So you want to know what writing a book is like? Well, Skippy, let me tell ya – it’s incredibly glamorous and exciting, a process that makes the average “James Bond” flick look like blue-collar labor. All one has to do is dial up The Muse ™, step aside and let her take over. And once The Muse ™ is in charge, it’s all downhill sledding, baby! The verbiage flows forth into prose that sings, moving your story forward at a gallop. Before you know it, you’ve constructed a masterpiece of narrative story-telling that critics will love and the reading public will buy. And all the children of the universe are moved to join hands in a song to the heavens praising your (apologies to Dave Eggers) heartbreaking work of staggering genius…
Um…No. It’s nothing at all like that. In truth, writing a book involves a lot of what Stephen King quaintly calls “ass-in-chair time,” in which the view is something like what you see here, as you try to wrestle an idea to the ground. That idea is your vision of what your book will be. In the abstract, it shimmers invitingly in the distance, a shiny palace. And so you eagerly approach that palace.
Getting this from your head onto paper should be a snap, right? Wrong. The closer you get to that palace, the more it starts to resemble a fetid swamp. Before you know it, you’re neck-deep in slimy water doing battle with nasty creatures, wondering how you missed them earlier. I’m not saying it’s not rewarding, because it is. But like most things worth doing, man, it’s really hard. For lesser mortals like me, anyway.
Thus we have “Ryan Adams: Losering, A Story of Whiskeytown,” a book that’s either been two years or two decades in the making, depending on how you reckon it. “Losering” is a biography of Ryan Adams, a musician of some note who tends to elicit strong opinions both ways – “mixed” is as close to neutral as feelings get when it comes to Ryan (a sentiment that goes for me, too).
“Losering” isn’t particularly long, about 56,000 words. But getting it done still drove me plenty crazy, and for better or worse it is now making its way into the world. I hope you like it. And even if you don’t, I hope you’ll let me know either way – here or at firstname.lastname@example.org.