"There is an easy-goingness to Sel’s storytelling that is fascinating and endearing. [...] Sel the author puts a master-class on display for character development; [...] The Unlounging fosters the absurd, the philosophical pondering, the beer-drinking, the classic car fixing, and the shit-talking yet loyal friendships we all yearn for in one fun novel." Scott, Goodreads
Not yet thirty, and already Selraybob is beaten down and washed up. He spends his days on his lounger, drinking quarts of beer and talking to his buddy Herm on the phone. Until, during his wife’s long overdue kiss-off speech, he notices two clocks. They’re seven minutes off. And he has an epiphany. Time, he decides, is a count. It’s only a count.
Einstein was wrong.
And life on the lounger will never be the same.
STARTING FROM SCRATCH
Realizations from my journey of The Unlounging.
Anyone can write a book.
That’s what I thought, and still mostly believe. But I learned a few other things along the way.
Writing Is Hard.
When I sat down to start The Unlounging, with a sketch pad and a pencil, I had no idea what I was doing. I was still learning words and sentences and the idea of making a good chapter was as foreign as building a space ship.
It wasn’t that putting down one sentence and then another is necessarily hard. I could do that. But making a good paragraph that people will want to finish reading, and then putting another one afterwards that people want to read, is surprising difficult.
I was reading a lot at the time. That helped, because I got to reading and re-reading the parts I liked, and figuring out as best I could why I liked those parts. And then I wrote and rewrote and changed just about every word in The Unlounging at least a few times.
I’m saying I learned the secrets of great writing and that I’m going to spew them out in a thousand words. But great writing, even good writing, takes a lot more learning and practicing than I’d thought when I started out. Be ready for it.
Finishing Is Very Hard.
Even with all the learning, I knew that if I kept going, not quitting, I could finish.
Finishing is what makes a novel.
The first thirty pages went pretty quickly. I told about Joalene and a few of the beginning things that happened when I got my kick in the backside. As I kept writing, I started thinking that if I finished the whole thing, it was going to be a book, and if I did as my sometimes-pushy friends Herm and Susy Liu Anne wanted, then it would be a published book. “It’s easy to publish,” they said. “Lots of companies will do it. You just have to finish the manuscript.”
Great, I thought. Thanks. just finish. So people will read it. And people will criticize it. And people will make fun of me and laugh and send all sorts of evil juju towards me because of what I’d written.
Once that line of thinking kicked in, the writing slowed. My one page minimum, which was what I was shooting for, took hours instead of minutes. I’d get up, walk around, take the Corvair out so that I could think. I made all sorts of excuses to Herm, that I’d lost my pencil sharpener and that my pad got wet and crinkly and that I needed to learn some more words before I wrote more. Then, I’d take an extra shift at the library because someone was sick, or wanted a holiday. I was the auto-sub. Call Sel, he’ll take your shift. I even stayed late a few times, unpaid, just to get the women’s literature section organized and pretty.
This is my metaphor for the first draft cycle. It starts out bright and sunny and full of excitement. Then the fog comes in. Light at first, and it burns off. But it comes back a chapter down the road. Then the fog turns soupy and you can’t see so well. Then the fog turns to rain and the path you’re walking turns to goo. Your feet get stuck and books get sucked into the ground. Another chapter down the road and the wind starts blowing you backwards. By the final chapter, it feels like banging your head against a giant slab of lead. And when you try to go backwards, to quit, you find another wall. All around are thick lead walls that squeeze around you. Your head starts to hurt, and you pound and pound and sit and sulk and pound again, searching for the tiniest crack.
And then, when all hope is lost and the moment of despair feels overwhelming, you see way up high, a tiny sliver of light. And somehow, word by word, you squeeze the end of your novel through that crack to the sunshine on the other side. And then, poof, you’re done.
That’s how it was for me, at least. I was so bloody ecstatic at the end, I scared Herm half to death.
That lasted three and a half days.
So it’s all done, and you have a book finished and it’s typed and printed and a title page is staring you big and mean and you feel proud and want to take it to work and hold it up for all to see, get pats on the back and maybe even some applause. And then your buddy asks you, “You ready for the rewrite?”
Rewrites seem to start in the middle of the fog. The ground’s already wet and the your boots are mushy and you haven’t touched chapter one.
Now, I have heard that some people actually like rewriting. I don’t get it, because for me the first draft was WAY more fun.
But, and I repeat, if you keep plugging along, learning and writing and practicing, no matter how heavy your boots get, you’ll make it.
Marketing Isn’t Any Better.
Some people have the marketing gene. I don’t. And if you don’t either, I strongly suggest outsourcing. Marketing and writing are barely cousins. To me, marketing feels like a never-ending slough of last-chapters of final rewrites, with vinegar, and with dusk filtering through the crack and not sun.
So if some prima-donna-know-it-all tells you, But marketing is writing, tell them to finish their own darn book, sell a million copies, and get back to you.
The problem is, telling someone how good you are, or how great your book is, takes a certain kind of ego. Perhaps a better word—one of my favorite negative words— is narcissism. The more narcissistic you are, the easier marketing yourself is.
Marketing as a job for other people, though, is much easier. I could write a blurb about Herm and Susy Liu Anne and tell the world how they’re the greatest, most talented people on the planet. No problem. it would flow out. I could write sixteen blurbs. And that’s why you outsource marketing to someone who isn’t you. For them, the emotion is gone. It’s work.
I’m lucky. As grumbly as I get sometimes, if I didn’t have Herm and Susy Liu Anne pushing me every once in a while, I might still be on the lounger. But I do. And I listened, and I went along most times.
They’ll be times when your friends drive you crazy. Let them, and then leave before you tell them off. Many times along the way, you’ll want someone to complain to, and if they all want to dump you in the river—the real friends at least, who want you to succeed—then the mud will be thicker and the lead walls harder and the cracks fewer.
But, if you work and learn and have a friend or two, then sure as the river, you’ll make it.
About the author:
Selraybob is a philosopher, writer, and, given his modest Missouri background, one of the least expected deep thinkers on the planet. His theory of time—that Einstein and Hawking and the rest of the spacetime preachers are misguided to the point of lunacy—has invited ridicule and hatred and threats of violence. He has become, arguably, an iconoclast. Selraybob continues to pursue Time, related physics theories, and, with the help of his buddy Herm, Herm’s wife Susy Liu Anne, and a small but growing band of supporters, battle the narrow minds of the Time Fixers.