The Horrors of Writing

Thank you, Gillian Reagan, for revealing the horrible truth! Writing is tough work. There is more pain angst per square inch in Brooklyn than in any other place in the world. This is not because writers suffer any more than anyone else. It is because writers, by and large, have tremendous chips on their shoulders and bitch about inconsequential things more than anybody else.

I, Edward Champion, am a writer. And I am here to tell you how miserable my life is. I have not secured a deal with any publishing house as of yet, but I have been writing the Great American Novel for 67 years now. Never mind that I am younger than that number. That’s the number I’m sticking with. It’s the number that a man in the streets told me to stick with when I gave him a ten dollar bill. I’ll let all the grad students sort it out when my novel is, at long last, unveiled to the public.

As it so happens, I was one of the original writers to be featured in the article. Gillian Reagan and I talked for twenty minutes, in person with her photographer. I told her that I would pose, looking as if I had just got out of bed and holding a mug of coffee with a hand vacillating between manly and dainty, my right eye slightly more closed than my left eye (I offered to get in a bar brawl for the sake of photographic journalism), with handwritten pages of my novel on the table. The novel is now in its 132nd draft. All of this could be done at a Hungarian bakery. Gillian, with her trusted photographic colleague Elena Seibert, took one look at my pate and told me that she needed a writer who had floppy black hair. I had no hair. I had decided to shave it all for BEA: my failed attempt to be a bald ass-kicking motherfucker. Gillian then offered me a lollipop, which I accepted, and then kicked me without warning in the crotch. She said to me, “Who loves ya, baby? Nobody!” I pleaded with Gillian to get a quote in her piece. I groveled. I offered free-form cunnilingus. At the very least she could get an “Ouch!” with me in a minor paragraph for this remarkably long piece. But it was not to be. Nathan Englander had more hair than I did. And he always looked as if he had just arisen from bed. Plus, he was better at free-form cunnilingus.

I made a last minute plea, pointing out that I could wear a wig.

“We need natural hair. Nathan Englander hair,” said Elena, who threatened to kick me in the crotch again. Because, you know, Gillian normally did that sort of thing and she wanted to see how it felt.

But I was rebuffed by the Observer crew. So I am reduced to confessing the horrible life I lead on these pages.

To wit:

I’ve been working on the aforementioned novel for over 67 years.

I have never won $5.4 million, but I could live in a trailer at any time for the remainder of my life.

I just barely paid my Am-Ex bill, but I have never sex blogged. Perhaps I should try this and write a novel so that I will have some reason to give Am-Ex if I cannot pay my bill.

My diet consists of water and occasional saltine crackers. I do this because I will be emotionally crippled if I have to eat one square meal over the course of a week or if I Super Size anything.

I wake up feeling pain. I go to bed feeling pain. Every time I laugh or feel happy, I feel pain. Pain is necessary to writing in the same way that a seat is unnecessary on a bicycle. You can, indeed you must, sit where the seat should be and feel blunt metal tubing up your posterior. This is what writing is all about. Laziness. Ennui. Remorse. Stupidity.

I have lost track of all my friends. I can’t remember any of their first names anymore. I call each and every one of them “Bob,” including the sexy women. They still give me dirty looks.

I look down and see that I am wearing three shoes. How did this happen? I just woke up. I haven’t left the apartment in years. How did I get two shoes on my left foot? Did someone put these on when I was asleep?

And then there’s the self-loathing. I hate myself more than anyone — even John Freeman — hates me. So there.

I plan to barricade myself in a Lower East Side apartment with Rachel Sklar so that we will both finish our novels. Perhaps she will ask me to perform free-form cunnilingus. There, we will guzzle Diet Coke together and immerse ourselves in Jewry.

If you have at least one job, you should probably have two more.

I didn’t realize that I had money for ham sandwiches and Oreos. Perhaps ham sandwiches and Oreos will make me happier than paying the rent.

I’m going to cry. And then I’m going to cry again.

Thank you, Gillian Reagan. My crotch is sore from your swift and unnecessary kicks. But I will still pose and put on a wig, if you need me to. Perhaps it will make me less morose. Perhaps I will finish my novel and then feel morose again as I write another one.


  1. If you’re going to immerse yourself in Jewry you should probably avoid the ham sandwiches.

  2. The comment I posted at the NY Observer:

    I recently reviewed “The Diary of Petr Ginz” (Atlantic Monthly Press) for The Jewish Journal. Ginz wrote diary entries, novels, poetry and essays and also created evocative art (linocuts, sketches and paintings). He did this while in a Prague ghetto and then later in a concentration camp before being murdered at the age of sixteen in a Nazi gas chamber. Writers write because they are driven to do so. Period. If it’s too difficult, then do something else. I have little patience for writers who complain about their lives particularly those who land hefty book deals.

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