In May of this year, me and the Missus had a deep and meaningful discussion (ie: fight) about my creative priorities, or lack thereof. At the time, I had ten different ideas for things that I wanted to pursue creatively (book, short film, pro wrestling manager with spangled vest, etc), which caused me to prematurely overwhelm myself into doing absolutely nothing. To this day, I always find it interesting that the more good ideas I have, the less that I want to do any of them.
The Missus was sick of it, and rightfully so. She knew all about my obsessive, bipolar state of mind, and did what she could to get me back on track. She was probably getting tired of my moping, ruining of parties and utter refusal to wear pants, too. I don’t blame her. Having a reclusive, irritable jackass writer for a husband is hell, and having an untalented one to boot must be sheer torture.
“Just pick the idea that’s the most important to you, and go with it” she said. “Never mind all the other stuff. Prioritize, bitch!”
It was good advice. Typically, I’m the one dishing out homespun wisdom to her, but this resonated with me, and I took it to heart. I instantly knew that writing a book was the one thing I’ve wanted to do since launching the CDP in 2004, and I needed to free myself of distractions and throw myself into it. The Missus is a skeptic when it comes to people changing their lives and mindsets based on a few clever sayings and self-promises, but I’m a goal-driven guy that’s lived by that doctrine for a quarter of a century, now. Put me and Tony Robbins together in a steel cage, and there’d be nothing left of that waxy fruit but a busted headset and a handful of bloody, glistening teeth.
So, I went for it. I shut the CDP down for an entire month and went about compiling the best essays from the vast archives of the Communist Dance Party. Quickly, I realized that it would have been a lot easier to just write an entirely new book; the copy/paste excursion was almost too much monotony and pain to bear. It was like having to watch home movies of yourself at your most awkward and annoying, and being forced to memorize every line of dialogue. For someone who’s happiest when writing something new, getting stuck pouring over old stuff was akin to drowning in molasses. I felt like I was going nowhere, and I was all sticky for some reason.
For 30 days, I sifted through 600 essays and over 1800 pages of past material. There were classic stories, some hidden gems, a lot of filler and a few pieces of undeniable, irrevocable crap. It was up to me to pick what worked, make it better and pitch the rest. The goal was to take the best of the CDP and make it better; polish everything up, re-write passages and perfect each essay to resemble exactly what I was trying to convey. I was drinking whiskey and listening to the Smiths almost every night, as you would assume.
May turned into June, which turned into July. I had narrowed my compilation down to approximately 75 essays and 350 pages. Finally, this pile of text was starting to halfway-resemble an actual book. What I had forgotten was the old ’80/20 Rule,’ which states that 80% of the work takes 20% of the time, and vice-versa. I may have knocked out a tremendous amount of tasks in a very short time, but my progress was about to come screeching to a vile, disgusting halt known as ‘editing.’
In short, editing is like sitting on a throne made of thumbtacks and gasoline, while every mistake that you’ve ever made in your life parades by, spits in your face and reminds you of how much you suck at living. Finally, when you think it’s all over, the last failure in line tosses the lit match. Some of my older essays were barely coherent. Chock-full of spelling and grammatical errors, I was shocked at how much better I had gotten at hiding my lack of formal English training. I be much better pen ink man than before I write book.
But I pushed through, reading and re-reading every essay until they no longer held any meaning to me. Just a mass of letters and punctuation. Editing was like stretching out a Slinky until it lost its elasticity; it was broken and sad, and I could no longer see it for what it was worth anymore. And don’t even think about trying to make it walk down the stairs.
Time to delegate.
I took my 75 pristine essays and 350 glorious pages, ran off a mound of copies and sent drafts to my closest friends and loved ones. They were instructed to correct every mistake, voice every opinion and destroy me with their constructive criticism. They were the voice of the public; the masses that would eventually decide if my book was worth buying. By this time, it was October, and I had already missed my initial release date of late September.
For one month, they secretly clutched their copies of the draft, circling and crossing things out in red pen, making little notes in the margins and keeping track of essays that they didn’t think were funny. I wasn’t looking for an ego-stroking; I desperately needed to know everything that was still wrong with my book. And boy, did they deliver. I took it like a man, though. I listened to everything that everyone said, did several more edits of the book (with the Missus coming through for me once I snapped and threw the book in the garbage twice
) and come November 1, had the final draft that you will be hopefully purchasing in just a few short days.
In short, the book looks beautiful. 75 essays were cut to 65 of the best, and trimmed to a perfect 298 pages of goodness. Everything has been punched up, new introductions have been written for every essay, forewords and afterwords are all-new, the cover looks great and most importantly of all, it’s a long-term goal accomplished. Even if you’ve read everything I’ve ever written in the last four years, it’s completely worth your time, and it’ll ship before Christmas!
For the first time in this journey, the publishing process was officially out of my hands. I had done everything I could do with it on my own; I designed the cover, threw a ton of money into self-publishing fees and sent it off to the printing press. For the next few weeks, I had to wait for the US Government and the fine folks at Lulu.com to make sure that everything met the criteria for self-publishing rights and distribution. I guess they don’t want something available through Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble that’s terrible, but if you’ve been to either retailer lately, they clearly haven’t been doing a very good job of keeping the turds out.
I’m a DIY guy. Punk rock. We used to silk-screen our own t-shirts. Burn our own CDs. Handle our own mailorder. Hell, we once cut up Ben’s K-Mart vest to make patches before a show. This is an aesthetic that I carry with me to this day. The less people that are involved, the less perverted the project will get, and the better the chances are that it will be done right. Now that I was forced to shove my thumb up my ass while a faceless corporation decided the fate of my book, I wasn’t happy. Of course, I hadn’t been too happy throughout this entire process.
Everything worked out, however, and on November 30, you’ll be able to purchase 65 Poor Life Decisions through Lulu.com, like you would anything else on the Interweb. But because I didn’t like the impersonal feel of it all, I also made sure it were possible to mailorder books directly through CDP World Headquarters. It’s the DIY attitude; I just can’t shake it.
So, if you want to, you’ll also be able to purchase 65 Poor Life Decisions through me. Where the online retail price will be $15.95, you can go through me for $21, which includes the following:
A copy of the book.
Shipping to anywhere in the nation.
Free CDP merch with every purchase.
So yeah, it’s a sweet deal, and a little incentive to order through me. Again though, direct ordering through Lulu is safe, secure and a little less messy. You’ll get more through me, though.
I’m accepting money orders or well-concealed cash (at your own risk, I won’t be responsible if it never makes it to me), and purchased a PO Box specifically for this reason. Just the money, a return address and any names you want me to make the book(s) out to:
PO Box 865
Sun Prairie, WI 53590
Of course, any specific questions can go through me, and we’ll cover this more extensively as the days get closer. When it comes to ordering, all you really need to remember is:
I’ll have all the links set up for you on Friday, Scout’s honor.
Please sound off in the comments section with any questions, comments or concerns you might have. You can always e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, as well. I’ve done everything I could do to write a decent book that was super-easy to buy, so do not hesitate to ask me a question if you’re hung up about something.
Thank you very much.