Thursday, June 5, 2008

Guest in Progress: Richard Goodman

I’m excited every time I see a message in my email inbox from Richard Goodman—eagerly opening it to find some words of wisdom, encouragement about my novel revision, or—best of all—something new for the blog!

This piece made me laugh out loud, gasp in horror (4:30 AM!!!), and nod in understanding sympathy.

And if you’ve missed Richard’s previous submissions, please do check them out:

--Being mindful of readers
--titles (very helpful for the titling-impaired!)
--collections of letters
--the “audacity” of writing a writing book

While you’re at it, please also look into his memoir, French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France (one of Steve’s faves), and his new book about creative writing, The Soul of Creative Writing.

Now…prepare yourself for--
By Richard Goodman

4:30 a.m. Get up and scream. Lower back out again from stress. Crawl to bathroom in advanced yoga position.

4:40 a.m. Go to living room. Wake up dog and beg him to brew me coffee. He declines.

4:50 a.m. Sit down at desk and fire up computer. Try to think of something to write to sell to pay this month’s rent. Instead, I go to personals and see if anyone has left a message for “Warren Buffettt.”

5:12 a.m. Read somewhere that Tennessee Williams began each writing day with a martini. Have no gin or vodka, so drink a half glass of milk instead, with an olive.

5:29 a.m. Begin memoir, “How a Gay Soccer Mom Found Love as a ‘Bloods’ Gang Member.” Decide it would be too humiliating to be unmasked on Oprah.

6:13 a.m. Wonder if a name change would help my career. Ponder the idea of calling myself “Giuseppe,” “Zorro,” “Curly,” “Fifi,” or “Cuba Gooding Senior.”

6:36 a.m. Decide to write novel entirely in fourth person.

7:14 a.m. Make a long, rambling speech about inflation to my dog.

7:34 a.m. Decide daylight savings time in an inherent evil foisted on the public by Michigan dwarves. Consider pitching it as a film idea.

8:01 a.m. Begin writing short story tentatively titled, “A Heartbreaking Work of Even More Staggering Genius.” Need to rest after writing title.

8:30 a.m. Check to see if my self-published novel, “The Angst Beaters,” has climbed from number 6,456,789 in sales. In fact, it has dipped slightly. Write glowing review for book and post it with signature, “God.”

8:55 a.m. Decide giving works titles before I even begin is a bad idea. Start writing novel with the working title, “Untitled.” Stare at page for an hour with no idea of what book is about. Abandon it.

9:55 a.m. Call agent. He asks for loan.

10:12 a.m. Call mother. She asks for loan.

10:32 a.m. Decide to take up blogging. Spend next hour thinking of titles. Consider “Read Me, I Beg You,” “If Jane Austen Were Alive, What Kind of Piercings Would She Have?” and “Me, Me, Me.”

11:32 a.m. Give up blogging when I discover I can’t figure out how to post my name, or anything else.

11:33 a.m. Decide to take a break. Surf websites looking for people with my same name who are wealthy.

11:43 a.m. Wonder if converting to another religion would open me up spiritually and allow my creativity to flow, or even trickle. Consider Hinduism, Sufism, Lunar Worship, and Cannibalism. Nothing clicks.

12:15 p.m. Decide to celebrate reaching afternoon with a glass of wine.

12:21 p.m. Lunch. Anchovies and generic cereal.

12:59 p.m. Watch clock shift to 1 PM. Note to self: Get quieter clock.

1:12 p.m. Get second wind. Decide to write biography of someone I hate, with idea that rage will motivate me.

1:23 p.m. Too angry to write.

2:34 p.m. Power nap.

5: 19 p.m. Decide to watch TV to research overall cultural zeitgeist and sociological trends. Turn on “Clifford, the Amazing Red Dog.”

11:19 p.m. Finish watching twelfth episode of “Law & Order” in as many channels.

11:59 p.m. Watch clock shift to 12:00 AM. Crawl into bed. Begin reading Sidney Sheldon novel with idea of becoming screenwriter tomorrow. Say prayers. Reach for pacifier. Fall asleep.~~Richard Goodman

About: Richard Goodman is the author of The Soul of Creative Writing and French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France. He has written for the New York Times, Harvard Review, Creative Nonfiction, Saveur, Vanity Fair, Commonweal, Ascent, Louisville Review and the Michigan Quarterly Review. He teaches creative nonfiction at Spalding University's Brief Residency MFA in Writing program. Please see his web site for more information.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.