fixing typos

7 Oct

I will never be a novelist. I don’t write novels, and even if I did, they wouldn’t be any good. Or aren’t any good. Unless you’re a super sleuth, you’ll never know. And I’ve only encountered one such specimen, whose skills were unsurpassed even by ME: the sleuthiest sleuth that ever did sleuth (formerly). This point is one of contention between my fantasy and real selves. The pretend self — the long haired adult in plaid, knee-length skirts, expensive wool tights and turtlenecks, the one that keeps a secret writing studio equipped with a mini-fridge full of bottled Mexican Coke and cold straws (one of life’s greatest joys; try it) — and the actual self — legging-ed, hair frizzy in the damp weather, eater of burritos, always tired. The latter is a hanger-on, if we’re being honest. An editor and finisher of others’ abandoned work, when I can even be bothered to do that. To be a writer, you’ve gotta write. And I do so with such inconsistency that, for the first time in my life, I really can’t get away with using the title.

When I imagined myself at thirty, even as recently as five years ago, I thought I’d have finished more of my own work. Not to great acclaim or anything. But finished, published, period. This has sort of come about in ways I don’t necessarily mind, but not in the ways I had hoped. I like self-publishing, control enthusiast that I am, but it’s a fucking pain, you guys. My letterpressed covers are amazing, true, but a finished book just arriving in my mailbox would be really, really awesome right about now, when I’m still figuring out how to fit a shower into my schedule.

It was with a sense of entitlement and snobbery that I registered for the Stumptown comics fest this year. Tim and I haven’t participated in a few years, occupied instead by APE and (me) having babies and (Tim) being in college, and I’ve become unaccustomed to “trying out” for this sort of deal. We usually just send in our registration at the last minute and hope our check clears, then kind of run in to the convention center/whatever at the last minute with spilling coffees to take our places among tables of friends. Small press and comics expos are like my own version of summer camp. The same cast of characters. At the end, everyone trades (books instead of addresses) and hugs and you see each other again next year. But a lot of those friends have moved on to (much) bigger things. Crazy art careers and design jobs that mean I stumble upon their work on the cover of, say, Michael Chabon’s books. And I am still eating the same (albeit amazing) fake salami sandwich from the same lunch counter down the street from the San Francisco Concourse and answering with the same feeble, “no, there’re no illustrations” and waiting for the inevitable Matt Groening encounter. Even when I’m making money, it feels a little pathetic.

This book I’m working on, to be ready for Stumptown, will be good, I think. And I hereby swear that I will not shrink a little and act nonplussed when the guy from Powell’s wants to buy a bunch like he always does. I’ll be confident in my product. I’ll maybe even wear some expensive tights and drink bottled Coke. Twenty nine was my threshold for total control, for being poor and keeping my “integrity” intact by not shilling. No more fixing others’ typos.


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