I hope we get to see more sketches like this from the Good Neighbor guys on SNL this season. (Note: Video is less filthy than it looks.)
Last night, like some people who weren’t immediately satisfied by the Breaking Bad finale, I was nearly convinced by Norm MacDonald and Emily Nussbaum's theory about it (recommended to me by Bilderberger Ben Stadler). It’s a fascinating and well thought out interpretation, but I think it’s wrong––or maybe it’s more accurate to say I think about it very differently.
This is possibly the best “bit” they ever did on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. This aired about 4 years into the run, and I think it aired in the middle of an episode. It’s fantastic!
The sound quality is not great. But don’t let that stop you from watching this.
(I should probably have posted this during the week, because now a lot of people who don’t check the internet on the weekend will miss out on watching (or re-watching) this classic piece of comedy)
Recently I made the decision to cease work indefinitely on the YA novel I’ve been working on since early 2011. Here are some things that suck and some things that are great about that:
- It sucks to spend two and a half years working very hard on your follow-up YA novel and then have to admit it’s still not good enough. As you might imagine. I put a lot of hours into this thing. I love the characters, and the experiences they go through, and the themes, and the audacity of some of the plot choices, and the title I finally came up with that seemed like such a perfect fit. There are so many things that still excite me about this book, even after so much time and exertion. Unfortunately, those various things still don’t quite fit together into a larger, readable thing. And I am exhausted trying to make them do that.
- What’s great is that this feels like the exact right course of action. After a day of anguish some weeks ago, spent furiously brainstorming ways to fix what was still wrong with the manuscript and estimating how much longer it would take me and how stressful it would all be, I lay in bed that night and had a revelation that I could just stop. Stop making my brain hurt. Stop trying to make an impossible thing be possible. Stop behaving as if my happiness and career depended on this one thing working out. For the first time, that seemed like an actual possibility, and it felt AWESOME. And it still does. Really, the strongest and most enduring sensation I’ve had through all this is one of tremendous relief.
- But I’m embarrassed, too. A couple of weeks ago, I was hanging out with two YA authors, people who are prolific and successful and whose writing I greatly admire but, more importantly, are old friends. And I couldn’t bring myself to tell them what had happened. Maybe it was too fresh, maybe it was the wrong venue for it. But I know I felt intimidated by my own sense of failure, and my sense of their success. Even though I’ve been at this long enough to have learned not to define my own goals and satisfaction in relative terms, I did it anyway. It’s a continual struggle, and I’m a human being just like you, assuming you aren’t a literate porpoise. So I wish I had a new book deal to announce, instead of a no-book deal to announce, not only for my sake but for my agent and publisher and fiancee and small but highly valued fanbase. And of course, eventually I will. But for now it kind of sucks.
- I’m okay. I’m fortunate to be a pretty resilient and optimistic kind of guy. And a lot that has to do with the all the support I have, from my parents, who brought me up right, to my agent, who’s been both necessarily honest and graciously encouraging about the whole thing, to my fiancee, who on that aforementioned day of anguish, asked wasn’t it me who’d given that talk to a bunch of Brooklyn 8th graders last year about failure and how to spring back from it (liberally sprinkled with timely-at-the-moment One Direction jokes)? Ohhhhh, right!
- But I’m worried about taking the wrong lesson from this. One thing that got me into trouble in this manuscript was my propensity not only throw all my big, ambitious ideas into one story but also to treat them all as integral. I think I can definitely learn something from that, but I don’t want to become a timid writer, or end up writing something totally conventional.
- I’m going to try new things, anyway. Outlining, for one. Since I know I have a strong tendency toward length and breadth, I figure it’s worth trying to contain and focus those tendencies, rather than letting myself roam entirely free. Will it help? Maybe, maybe not, but I’d rather try to improve my process than assume I have it figured out, which is the attitude I think I leaned on too hard for this book.
- Now I have to start over, completely. And I don’t know whether the next one will be a flop too.
- Now I get to start over, completely. And I have a good idea of where to begin.
- Plus, a bonus thing to tip the scales toward Great: I haven’t given up on this book forever, I’m just letting go of it for now. In my fevered, anguished rethinking of the novel on that dark day/weekend a while back, I came up with what I thought were a number of very good ways to fix the thing. Whether they are actually any good or worth attempting will be up to Future Lucas to decide. But I will note that there is at least one example of an abandoned novel(s) that ended up being repurposed to somewhat huge success. What I’m saying is, this book will likely end up being the favorite book of every teenager in America and many other countries around the world. But in case that it, instead, never gets published at all, I’m still in pretty good company.
tl;dr — I’m officially making a serious attempt at a beard.