What do you do when your agent sends out manuscripts? Do you pray to something? Do you huddle in a corner with your favorite blanky and pray to the great god Bacardi? Maybe you just sit back and ignore the whole process, as if it's way beyond you and nothing you can do could help serendipity either way.
I go through 99 stages of anticipation every time this happens. Here they are.
Stage 1. There's a moment when I feel an unholy elation as if in a matter of seconds I will be transported to the mountaintop where all the real good writers live and I'll be told the secrets to publishing. Later, we'll sit around smoking a blunt, drinking red wine from bota bags, listening to Donna Summer and telling stories about when I was but a struggling writer.
Stage 2. Reality hits me square between the eyes and I remember that the odds of getting hit by a car are better than being published.
Stage 3. I act nonplussed, too-cool-for-school, what-me-worry, who's-afraid-of-the-big-bad-wolf-bad-ass and stare down my nose at the world like I'm French and you're not.
Stage 4. I begin looking at traffic wondering if getting hit by a car will make me feel as if the universe knows I exist.
Stage 5. I tell someone, usually Yvonne, who acts authentically pleased, but my mind creates a maddening cartoon visage over he face that says something like, "You poor poor sap. You want to be famous. Take out the garbage. That will make you famous. Write a note to the trash collector. You'll be even more famouser, asshole."
Stage 6. I believe in god for 7.2 seconds.
Stage 7. I email my agent, realizing that only an hour has passed, delete the email, retype it to try and act as if I'm not desperate, delete it, retype it again, the close out the email program before I can actually press send. Then I sit back feeling pathetic.
Stage 8. I play in traffic for awhile.
Stage 9. I consider praying to the dark gods, getting a fetish, learning a new religion, trying yoga, painting henna tattoos on my body, and running naked in the moonlight. I don't actually do any of these things because I'm dreadfully afraid that I might, in a moment of weakness, stumble into the one religion that actually works and be trapped forever.
State 11. I slam my head into a sink filled with ice water.
Stage 12. Fuck it. I grab a glass of wine and begin praying to all my writing fetishes. I pray to my statue of Grifter. I spin my dangly stuffed pufferfish. I touch my Velvet Jesus. I turn on my animatronic Elvis and pretend he's talking to me. I wobble my hula girl. And I whisper dirty little sex secrets to Shardik Jones and his Harem of Barbies, wondering if when become rich and famous if he'll still be the same old stuffed bear lech that he always is and act them out on the floor of my office.
Stage 13. I wake up in a pool of vomit, an imprint of B-H-N-J-M-K on my face. Wine bottles litter the floor. Barbies are splayed everywhere. Shardik looks satisfied. I feel strange and I can't find my underwear.
Stage 14. I throw up.
Stage 15. Three hours have passed since my agent submitted my novel. I email him and ask him if he's received anything yet. He responds a little too quickly with the word "no." I feel pathetic, but act French so no one can tell.
Stage 16. I write a blog about Writer's Anticipation.
Stage 17. I pick up the Barbies before someone actually sees them, but I can't look them in the eye. Shardik grins wickedly the whole time. I wonder if he has pictures.
Stage 18 - 98. Repeat some variations of the previous seventeen stages over and over again, until I either get arrested, my wife begs me to stop, or my agent emails me with news so I can move on, or some combination thereof.
Stage 99. By now I've literally forgotten what I wrote so if it's accepted it comes as a surprise to me that I even wrote it, and if it gets rejected, who cares because I forgot about it anyway. I continue to act French. I still can't find my underwear. But all is good in Weston Land. There's a new book to write and verbs to conjugate. Barbies are all in bubble wrap until the next submission. Shardik sits on the shelf and every now and then I can hear him whisper, "Hubba Hubba." My keys begin to clackity clack as my writing gets back on track. "Hubba Hubba," I whisper back to Shardik. Welcome to the Jungle jumps out of my speakers. Fuck anticipation. If it happens it happens.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Weston Ochse is a former intelligence officer and special operations soldier who has engaged enemy combatants, terrorists, narco smugglers, and human traffickers. His personal war stories include performing humanitarian operations over Bangladesh, being deployed to Afghanistan, and a near miss being cannibalized in Papua New Guinea. His fiction and non-fiction has been praised by USA Today, The Atlantic, The New York Post, The Financial Times of London, and Publishers Weekly. The American Library Association labeled him one of the Major Horror Authors of the 21st Century. His work has also won the Bram Stoker Award, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and won multiple New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. A writer of more than 26 books in multiple genres, his military supernatural series SEAL Team 666 has been optioned to be a movie starring Dwayne Johnson. His military sci fi series, which starts with Grunt Life, has been praised for its PTSD-positive depiction of soldiers at peace and at war. Weston likes to be called a chaotic good paladin and challenges anyone to disagree. After all, no one can really stand a goody two-shoes lawful good character. They can be so annoying. It's so much more fun to be chaotic, even when you're striving to save the world. You can argue with him about this and other things online at Living Dangerously or on Facebook at Badasswriter. All content of this blog is copywrited by Weston Ochse.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
The 99 Stages of Writer's Anticipation
Weston Ochse is the author of more than twenty books, most recently the SEAL Team 666 series which has been optioned by MGM Films. He's also the author of the Grunt Life series, a military science fiction series concentrating on the lives of PTSD survivors. His first novel, Scarecrow Gods, won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in First Novel and his short fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His work has appeared in comic books, and magazines such as Cemetery Dance and Soldier of Fortune. He lives in the Arizona desert within rock throwing distance of Mexico. He is a military veteran with more than 30 years of military service and currently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan.