Stuey Takes a Holiday (on writing a book)


I’ve discovered I’m an aberration. Apparently, the old adage about “everybody has a book in them,” applies to me in the exponential. Because I’ve got two or three. And they might be interesting.

By that, I mean “two or three that do not in any way have templates or trajectories that are anything alike.”

And by that I mean, “Steve Berry has really only ONE book in him.”

Me? I’ve a got an idea for a novel. Suffice it to say it would be labeled “an existential farce that draws into sharp relief America’s genuine musical heritage.” At least that’s the blurb I’d put on the back of my own book. Of course, I’d also put Groucho Marx’s quip, “from the moment I picked this book up, I could not quit laughing. Someday I hope to read it.”

A few years ago, I picked up First Draft in 30 Days. I fooled with it. I brainstormed. I ruminated, cogitated, contemplated and regurgitated.


At least I came up with the name of my antagonist—which is actually the protagonist if you use the bent calculus I’m using to craft the whole idea anyway. His name is Stuey, and he’s an incompetent little Mephistophelean nitwit.

That’s all I’m saying for now.

There’s something about my brain that will bog down with too much attention to the machinations of craft. And the structural schematics that grease the skids for others seem to pour sand into my WD-40. And yet, the processes laid out in the book seem to make all the sense in the world—and illuminate the more opaque issues one might not consider when running towards print.

So I’ve decided to READ the book again, and allow my all-too-stunted proclivity for rudiments and fundamental paroxysms to absorb it all in spirit. Chances are, I’ll never fill in the notebook-ish blanks getting to my goal. I’m simply going to have to just buckle down and do it.

I remember when I started to play with something magicians (at least some) call the “memorized deck.” Now, in the spirit of non-disclosure, I will say this: It is a particular situation in which a mixed up deck is completely memorized. This random “order” is achievable time and again—the advantage given to the magician insofar as they can keep a cyclical count of a card’s location (Okay, that’s it in terms of disclosing this underused gambit).

Magicians forums are glutted with this question: What method of memorizing a deck did YOU use? This follows with the names of card sharks that have published mnemonic ramp-ups. But it was a man named Darwin Ortiz, in his book Scams and Fantasies with Cards that took the vinegar out of it all: Take a deck, shuffle it. Memorize it.

Nuff said.

As to the great novel, I wonder if C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, King, Crichton, or any of those guys sat around troubleshooting their work against a schematic. Or did they just re-read their own drafts and “feel” for the gaps? George Harrison wrote Here Comes the Sun while walking around Eric Clapton’s garden—not at a Liverpool songwriter’s workshop (No slam on workshops, btw. Chances are you’ll meet me at one, or at any rate watch me launch a probable cause search for panhandling).

Either way, this writer’s beginning from the beginning; the In medias res? Got it covered. The resolution to my witty caper without plowing the car into the deus ex machina phone booth? No idea.


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3 Responses to Stuey Takes a Holiday (on writing a book)

  1. Amy Jensen says:

    I can’t wait to watch your journey (and read your novel)!

  2. Steve says:

    You hit the proverbial nail on the head… you just have to buckle down and do it. Most writing books I have read, when all is said and done, distill down to this: Just write! Write when you don’t feel like it. Write when you do feel like it. Write, write, write!!! I read somewhere that John Grisham wrote his first novel by getting up early and going to his office and writing when no one else was around. I recently read another quote where someone said something like this: “If you enjoy writing, then I probably don’t want to read what you’ve written.” While not an absolute across the board aphorism, I believe the point the person was trying to make is that writing can be “blood, sweat, and tears” (with apologies to Al Kooper and Johnny Cash). Anything I have ever achieved on the guitar (or really, anything of value in my life) has come with hard work. Getting into Csikszentmihalyi’s flow” has been an elusive (though not totally unknown) experience for me. Anyway, write on! I’ll buy something you write.

  3. Pingback: In which I blatantly use an accordion-player’s cheekiness for my own pathetic attempt at self-promotion. | Master Of None


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