where the writers are
The Big (First-Book) Mistake

The big mistake with my first book was writing it. Forty years later it is still in contention for the Worst Book Ever Published award. But I needed the money. And what the heck, with three small children and a husband who was more interested in booze than in holding down a job, a book contract looked pretty good. It was a putative biography of a highly unimaginative and thoroughly boring (burn this blog) corporate CEO who will remain nameless. The contract may have pointed out, in small print, that I was never going to be permitted to meet my subject; all I noticed was the $750, which, in the roaring 1960s was big bucks. The contract was arranged and delivered by the head of the public relations department of this thoroughly boring corporation. His name appears on the finished product in larger type than mine. I finally figured out he wanted to be sure he made maximum points with the subject, and more power to him. He would deliver puff pieces, I would arrange them into prose. The finished product, filled with photos of the important subject with important people doing important things, cannot be described in words but I’ll try: vapid, boring, pompous, overblown, tedious, did I say boring? The good news is that both of the above gentlemen have gone to their rewards in the big board room in the sky, utterly delighted (I was told) with the finished product. The further good news is that, barring the unlikely existence of any remaining copies of the thing on shelves of disinterested grandchildren, I now own the only extant copy of this book, and you will never see it in public. Unless, of course, it does eventually win the WBEP award and there’s money involved. (The children are grown and the replacement husband is without peer; still, money talks.) In that event, I will appear anonymously in my burqa.

Comments
12 Comment count
Comment Bubble Tip

I love this post

Your voice in this post makes me think you aren't capable of being boring in any situation whatsoever, Fran. Your honesty and/or self-effacing tone is very refreshing!

Shana Moore
Shana McLean Moore
www.caffeinatedponderings.com
www.sunnysidecommunications.com

Comment Bubble Tip

Good talks, bad books

Fran Moreland Johns

Thanks, Shana.  I hope I've gotten a little better since then.  I like your sunnysidecommunications site!  Check out True/Slant if you get a minute some time.

Fran

 

Comment Bubble Tip

WBEP Award

Sharon E. Dreyer

This is a great article. In addition, I doubt that you could write the infamous, Worse Book Ever Published. Besides, Money talks when you're trying to raise children. I love this story. Thanks for sharing the tale of the WBEP

Comment Bubble Tip

Photos

But did you share the fish? I've been following sad saga of Benson the carp, of some English lake. Lake owner upset over her (Benson's a she) demise. I say, caught-&-released SIXTY-THREE TIMES? She died of exhaustion.

Comment Bubble Tip

Brilliant!

It sounds as if you did a stellar job keeping two demanding bosses happy. Brilliant story, I love it. Thanks. I'm at the stage where I'd settle for my name on any book no matter how bad. Haven't submitted anything yet, just thinking about it but I'm not aiming for a Pulitzer prize winner, just something publishable:)

Comment Bubble Tip

First books

Well, there surely ought to be a good book in all that globe-trotting. I'm better at finding agents than my agent is with selling proposals, so let me know if you need my Find-an-Agent method.

Comment Bubble Tip

Hilarious!

Thoroughly enjoyed this! Thanks for writing it!

Perhaps my fave line (tho. it's hard to choose): "both of the above gentlemen have gone to their rewards in the big board room in the sky"!

Comment Bubble Tip

Japanese

Fran Moreland Johns

I'm glad you liked my story (you wouldn't like the book.)  I am so language envious.  But what's Japanese for mastectomy?

Comment Bubble Tip

Hmm?

Mastectomy?! Not sure how we got to that subject, but I suspect it's for a terrible reason. If so, I'm incredibly sorry. (Btw, I recommended your book--the one on dying, not the 1st one you wrote--to a friend who has just lost her father. She read the descrip. and thot it sounded very promising.)

Many Japanese words have a wonderful bit of wit or cleverness inside, and I was hoping that would be the case with "mastectomy" (a word I didn't know). Not really. Here it is:

乳房切除術 (nyuubousetsujojutsu)

And this is what each character means:

乳 (breast--clearly this is not one of those cases where the character resembles the object in question!)
房 (chamber, cell)
切 (to cut)
除 (to remove)
術 (technique)

Comment Bubble Tip

You're dear

 

I just went from chest to mastectomy, which I had not long ago but no big deal.. You live long enough, you get Stuff, and I'm a very healthy, & lucky, Old Person. Thanks for recommending Dying Unafraid; it's about a lot of great people who did that, and we, mortals all, can learn from their zest for living into the end. Or on to the next place, wherever it is.  I wish your friend peace.

Fran 

Comment Bubble Tip

Sane perspective

Thanks for your sane perspective on Stuff and Life and the End of Life. But sorry anyway to hear about your mastectomy. Hope all is well now.

Comment Bubble Tip

'tis good!

 Thanks. And I hope all continues grand with you and Japan.