Friday, July 06, 2007

Muse Review: How to Become a Famous Author Before You’re Dead

How to Become a Famous Author Before You’re Dead; Ariel Gore; Three Rivers Press; 2007; 265 pages; Trade Paper

I borrowed this book from the library for two reasons: 1) I heard Ariel Gore on the Writers on Writing podcast and she was a fun, engaging speaker. 2) How could you not like the title of this book?

The title sets the tone for the book which is casual with an anarchist streak. Her advice, presented in short, packed sections (most of which are no longer than 3 pages long), crackles with energy. She also supports her beliefs with quotes, details from the lives of other writers, and interviews with writers that she admires.

Ms. Gore shoots out of the gate with a roar, advising all writers to write at all costs, because as her inspiration for writing the book, her friend Alison Crews (who died of a seizure at age 23), never got the chance to do so. Here is some of her advice for the student who complains that she cannot find the time to write:

“If you don’t have time to write, stop answering the phone. Change your e-mail
address. Kill your television. If you don’t have a baby, have one. If you have a
baby, get a sitter. If you work too much, work more. If you don’t work enough,
work less. If there’s a problem, exaggerate it… The shock of the new—shake
yourself awake. There is only this moment, this night, this remembrance rolling
toward you from the distant past, this blank page, this inspiration yielding
itself to you. Will you meet it? You don’t need money and a room of your own, you need pen and paper…”

Within the Q&A style interviews with other authors, each of which ends with a writing assignment for the reader, Ms. Gore doles out a plethora of good advice. (Sorry, Ariel, the word might be stupid, but it is a fun way to say “a whole buncha.” Pleh-thuh-raa! Plethora. Don’tcha just love how it rolls off the tongue?) Many of the authors she interviewed encountered a lot of resistance from the traditional publishing industry and fought through it to become literary stars.

I think the best part about this book is that it radiates energy like you’d expect of a lit star. Every page crackles with impatience and raw willpower. Do it now. Don’t wait for tomorrow or someday. Do it now! The book jumps from chapters with practical writing advice (i.e. Write; Fight for Your Time; Get Your Heart Smashed, but Just Once or Twice), to the do’s and don’ts of publishing (i.e. Be Nice to Interns; How to Piss Off an Editor; Be an Anthology Slut) and to, of course, brazen guidelines for self promotion (i.e. Demolish Arrogance; Grab the Mic; Stand Out on the Corner in a Gorilla Mask and a Pink Tutu).

How to Be a Famous Writer... is as much about the business of writing as it is about the writing process. Without promotion, you can write works of utter brilliance that will be read by no one, so Ms. Gore encourages us (typically extremely introverted) writers to get out there and learn how to tap into our inner diva/lit star, or as she so cleverly puts it our “superhero alter ego,” and use it to help us produce work and share it with our audience in however we can.
This book is entertaining, offbeat and filled with inspirational advice. Check it out!

Rating: **** (Buy on Sale/Discounted)About Ratings: ***** -- Well Worth it at Full Retail Price; **** — Buy on Sale/Discounted; *** — Buy Used; ** — Borrow It from the Library; * — Waste of a Good Tree

Thursday, July 05, 2007

New Flash Writing column posted on

My latest Flash Writing column has been posted on It discusses the insideous ways of the inner critic or "monkey mind." Check it out.