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Your words in print, your name in lights

In May of 2005, Ariel Gore’s friend Allison Crews sent Ariel an e-mail asking her to be Allison’s mentor. She agreed to Allison’s request, but the two were not able to get together for the mentorship to begin. One month after she sent the e-mail, Allison had a seizure and passed away at the age of twenty-three. How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead was born from these sad circumstances. It’s everything Ariel wishes she had told her dear friend.

It’s a writer’s guide like no other, as it doesn’t focus on the mechanics of writing. The book includes interviews and exercises from Dave Barry, Dave Eggers, Michelle Tea, Julia Alvarez and other stars of the literary world. They dole out practical advice for conquering real-life obstacles that stand between you and your dream. It’s funny and irreverent, as well as informative and inspirational.

We all know the lit game has changed. It’s not enough to write a great book. There are millions of great books sitting in slush piles at this very second. Most of us aren’t lucky enough to have big-time agents for friends or a big-house publisher in the family. We are only regular folks chasing a dream. The good news? There’s never been an easier time to self-promote and/or self-publish. The dream is ours for the taking my friends, viva revolution!

It took me some time to admit that I wanted to be a lit star. I like to believe that I merely want to earn a decent living doing something I love. I would humbly deposit my royalty checks and use the money for practical purposes like groceries and utilities instead of new shoes and vacations. While even modest success would be great, it would be undeniably awesome to be a famous writer. There’s nothing wrong with aiming for the sky.

How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead left me with the feeling that I CAN DO THIS! It’s a must-read, but you can’t borrow my copy.

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Penni Jones is the author of The Utopia of Noah Lazarus. She spends her days chasing preschoolers (her own children, not random preschoolers) and spends her nights reading and writing until she passes out from exhaustion and red wine.

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5 Responses to “Your words in print, your name in lights”

  1. Nate says:

    Hmmmmm, I too have an interest in becoming famous for my timeless prose. This could be of use to me, if I could just get it away from Penni… *twirls mustache*

  2. Melodie says:

    You don’t have to lend it to me, Penni. I will TAKE IT FROM YOU.

    Everybody’s got to sleep sometime.

  3. Penni says:

    I sleep with it under my pillow and when I shower it’s in a sealed plastic bag at my feet.

  4. Penni says:

    I love Bird by Bird, too. I think it’s time to read that one again.

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