I spend an inordinate amount of time whining about stuff that isn't happening--where's my award, where's my conference invite, why didn't I make this or that list, where's my movie deal, why aren't my books selling more copies (or, more accurately, why aren't my books selling as many copies as this or that book which is not as good as mine), waah waah waah.
It's unseemly to do this in public as I sometimes do, and I'm even more of a whiny pain in the ass in private.
So today, in an effort to shake off some career dolrums, and to get into the spirit of next week's Feast O'Gluttony, I'm focusing on the great and cool stuff that my writing has brought me over the last ten years and trying not to think about the stuff I haven't gotten.
First and foremost, the fact that I got a big advance for DONORBOY allowed me to stay home and write during the period right after my late wife Kirsten's death. This was great for a number of reasons, but especially because I didn't have to put my daughter into both before and after-school programs when I suddenly became a single parent.
That would be enough, really, for me to feel like my writing career has been a tremendous success. But wait! There's more!
Here are the cities I have visited, at no expense to me, because of my writing: London, Chicago, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, New York, Washington DC, Atlanta, Wichita, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, and Memphis. Not too shabby!
I stayed for free in all of those places, and in some of them I stayed in really nice, top-notch luxury hotels that I could never have afforded to pay for in real life. Sweet! (if problematic: once you've seen what a really nice hotel is like, it's very hard to go back to the Days Inn where you belong. Oh, who am I kidding. Super 8. Okay, okay, Motel 6.)
One surreal morning in New York, I woke up early, had a delicious breakfast, and appeared on the Today Show and the Rosie O'Donnell show in one two-hour period.I sat on the dark set while Matt Lauer made jokes he couldn't have made on the air. I remember being at Rockefeller Center where Rosie taped her show on the same floor as SNL. (They had me wait in Horatio Sanz's dressing room.) I went into the bathroom and thought, "hey, I bet Belushi did lines in here!"
(By the way, I will not stand for any hatin' on Rosie, who was incredibly kind to me and my family and who actually read and really liked my book. She is a very cool person.)
I have met some really cool people, some of whom I've been lucky enough to become friends with. At the Broward County Literary Feast, Kristin Jacobs and her family opened their home to me and served an amazing, HOW YA LIKE ME NOW-themed dinner. I met and hit it off with Tasha Alexander and Lauren Groff. Emily Franklin and I have formed a great working partnership that has evolved into a great friendship as well. On the recent tour for The Half Life of Planets, I became friends with Dan Waters and Liz Rudnick. My wife's best friend Trish Cook is now my writing partner and friend as well. I'm very lucky to have met all of these cool people.
And then there are the readers. I get the occasional email or facebook message from someone who has read and really enjoyed my work, and these are always amazing. I mean, most of us in most jobs don't get this kind of praise nearly enough. "Hey, you know that thing you worked really hard on? It was great! Thank you for doing that!" Probably we'd all be much more content with our work lives if we were able to get that kind of message, even at irregular and unpredictable intervals like I do.
So I leave with this message for myself: Quit your incessant whining and try to remember what a great ride the last ten years have been. You did totally get screwed on the Sexiest Man Alive thing, though.