Yesterday afternoon it became official! Any typos that I, my publisher or book editor may have missed are now on their way to the printers, where they will live forever in black and white to haunt me at book festivals, workshops and conventions.
“Hey Mr. Hickson! Will you sign my book on page 50, right above where it says ‘If you want to be a writer, you can never give up dope?'”
All joking aside, after reading through it for the final time before signing off on it for my publisher, I pushed the “send” button feeling truly excited to share this book. While my weekly columns and blog posts are certainly an extension of me, this book is even more personal because it’s an opportunity to take what I’ve learned over the last 16 years and share it directly with other writers (as opposed to just sitting in a bar and mumbling to whoever’s next to me).
In my acknowledgements, I mention my high school freshman English teacher, Mrs. Phillers, who flunked me out of her college prep class. She did it as a way of getting my attention; she wanted me to take my writing more seriously.
I was devastated when I went to see her.
“You have talent,” she gently told me. “But it’s wasted if you don’t learn the tools. Even a gifted mechanic can’t fix a car if the only tool he knows how to use is a tire gauge. You need to decide if you’re going to take your writing seriously enough to move beyond a tire gauge and some duct tape.”
While writing this book, I thought about her and all the people who have impacted my life as a writer, providing insight, encouragement, opportunity and the occasional push when I needed it most…
This book is a way of expressing my appreciation to these people and, hopefully, giving something back to other writers out there when they need encouragement, insight or the occasional push in the right direction. I wrote it as if it were a one-on-one conversation over a beer or cup of coffee (depending on what time of day we’re having this conversation.) I kept it to 100 pages to avoid feeling like a text book; I wanted it to look inviting and be something that can easily kept next to the keyboard or used to wedge the door open on a hot day. It’s written sequentially, from that first story idea to publication and — echh! — promotion (*blink blink*).
Here’s a look at what’s in it:
I was fortunate enough to have Tom Cherones, the Emmy Award-winning director of “Seinfeld,” read an advanced copy and write a testimonial for the back cover. When he told me he had already incorporated some of the advice I offered into his writing routine — such as actually having a writing routine — I took that as a good sign that the book had turned out as I had intended: As a shameless promotion for myself in the event of a new Seinfeld series.
Oh, ha ha! And helpful to writers, too!
That said, I also want to thank all of YOU for your incredible support of this project, and as a writer in general. I thank the heavens each day for the opportunities I’ve been given and the support I’ve received since that life-changing day when Mrs. Phillers challenged me to get serious.
And no, the irony that I “got serious” by becoming a humor columnist hasn’t escaped me.
Neither has my appreciation for everyone who has shared a laugh with me here or through my columns. I look forward to sharing something just as special with this new book.
(To pre-order a signed copy of “Pearls of Writing Wisdom: From 16 shucking years as a columnist,” click HERE.
Orders will be shipped out at the end of September.
An eBook version will be available soon (but they are a lot harder to sign).