I was thinking about who you should get to edit my manifesto. I mean manuscript. My eleventh grade English teacher came to mind, but after she was accused of gross vandalism, criminal harassment, stalking, and destruction of property she kind of disappeared off the face of the planet. I heard she was living for a while with her sister in a big three-storey house in my home town, which, if you ask me, is a perfect beginning for pretty much any horror story ever written. She was a pretty good editor, I guess. She used a lot of red pen marks on my papers. Come to think of it, they rarely had anything to do with my spelling and grammar. They were more like addresses and dates and times and shit. But I learned a lot from her in class, like the difference between nouns and verbs and corporate and subjective clauses. I don’t actually remember most of it, so you’re going to need a good editor.
I tried to look up on Google who was the editor for Clive Barker’s books, because whoever did that was probably pretty good. I mean, he uses a LOT of words in his books, and his editor would have had to have corrected a lot of them, so probably it’s somebody who can read really fast. My roommate in second year University claimed to be a speed reader and she could get through an entire novel in an afternoon, but I’m pretty sure she was just flipping the pages to hear the sound they made because she couldn’t even pass first year psychology. It’s not like that’s a particularly challenging course, either. If you can read the textbook, you’ll get an A. If all you do is look at the pictures in the textbook, you’ll get a B. I only went to four classes for the entire term and still got a B+ (I only read about 3/4 of the textbook, and my professor was Quite Alarmed at my answers to the Rorschach test he administered to the entire class, which, if you ask me, was totally not my fault. If you don’t want someone to blurt out “a couple of dragons with huge tits juggling the head of an infidel between them on their tongues’, you shouldn’t show a picture of it on the overhead).
On the other hand, it’s probably prudent to go with quality over quantity, so you could get Alice Munro’s editor for me. I’d be okay with that. As long as she doesn’t make me change all the characters to pioneers or small town mothers or whatever, because the only experience with pioneers and small town mothers I have is with my own family and trust me, you don’t want to know about that. Besides, that doesn’t belong in a proper manifesto. Also, my mother told me that if I ever use her in a book she’s going to sue me. I told her that you can’t sue someone just because they put you in a book and she said you sure as shit can; haven’t you ever heard of Pring v. Penthouse? Which just goes to show you that my mother is a fairly well-read woman, and that baton twirlers are really good at fellatio. Or they might be. I don’t remember how that case was settled.
My point is that I don’t want to write about my mother, so the editor that you get has to be someone who’s going to let me use my own characters. Also, the editor you get should be pretty good at spelling. I use a spell checker a lot, but sometimes it spells ‘pubic’ instead of ‘public’, because they’re both, you know, actual words, but that’s the kind of thing a good editor show know the difference of and be able to choose which word you actually probably meant. You could probably give my editor my phone number in case she has questions like that. I don’t want her to just go changing things all willy-nilly, like if scene is set in space, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for my editor to say that the severed fingertips would fall upward if in fact they’d just kind of spread out in whatever direction they were initially set in motion. You’re going to need to find an editor with a pretty solid grasp of actual physics, I think. And someone who’s good at spelling.
I have another question, too. Do you worry about the page numbering or do I? I thought all I had to do was to send you my manifesto on DropBox and then you’d do all the other stuff. I don’t know how to add page numbers automatically, but I can just leave a few carriage returns at the end of every page and put a number at the bottom. It’s nothing to worry about, I took typing in both junior high school and in high school (because, seriously. That’s an easy credit if I ever saw one. The typewriters we had in junior high school for “business ed.” were all those old klunky grey ones without any white-out features. You had to actually roll the paper up on the carriage return and use your school supply white-out to correct your mistakes. And then the ribbons got all gummed up with white-out because that shit sticks to everything. Of course, if you make enough mistakes, you can get pretty high from using all that white-out, which was another bonus for taking business ed., until the headache set in right around the time English class started, so I don’t remember a lot from The Twelfth Knight or A Night to Remember. What was it with books about nights in grade nine? Do you think they were trying to tell us something? I didn’t become a goth for another four years after that, but probably that’s where it started. Typing class in high school was way easier because my best friend and I sat at the back of the room and learned that if we wanted to correct a mistake we just had to backspace and type Xs through the errors. This is why you do a proof copy and a good copy. Are you going to need me to do a proof copy and a good copy? But seriously, it was an easy credit, and in high school our teacher was a total dweeb who was terrified that some teenage girl would charge him with sexual harassment (nobody would ever let him get close enough to touch them though because he was SUCH A TOOL) so we pretty much got away with murder. Not, like, actual murder. I mean, my hometown was pretty rough, but I was actually talking about metaphorical murder. Anyway, it was an easy credit) so I know all about how to type a proper business letter and envelope and how to put page numbers on the bottoms of pages. But if that’s something my editor is going to do, then I’ll just let them do it.
I was thinking about adding a chapter in my manifesto about a guy who’s in prison. But it’s not a regular prison. It’s this crazy new-age radical prison that a bunch of hippies on a commune develop. It’s basically a cage woven out of willow branches and suspended overtop of a tailings pond, and the thing that holds it up there is a bit of rawhide so crows and ravens and whatever come and peck at that rawhide rope until it breaks and drops the bad hippie into the tailings pond. Then if the bad hippie makes it out of the tailings pond, he’ll be all toxic and shit but he’ll have served his time and will no longer be a burden to their hippie society. But in my chapter, the bad hippie escapes by trapping a whole bunch of crows and tying their feet to his cage with his dreadlocks. Then eventually the crows fly away and take his cage with them and he ends up in, like, the arctic or whatever. I haven’t really gotten that far yet, but I think it’d be a really good chapter. And you could get Tom Cruise to play the bad hippie because if there’s anything that guy can’t play, I don’t know what it would be. Or maybe Kevin Costner. Either way, is that the kind of chapter that should go in the beginning or in the middle of the book?
Am I going to need to use my own pen for the book signings? I was at a book signing and the author had this really nice pen that was kind of a mix between a ball-point pen and a fineliner. Which sounds weird now that I describe it, but it wasn’t one of those rollerball pens (that ink gel just gets all over hell’s tarnation and it’s really difficult to get it out of white underpants) and it wasn’t a sharpie, but it was somewhere in between. I kind of borrowed it for a few minutes just to see how it wrote, which made the author pretty mad because I guess the only people who are supposed to sign a writer’s books are the actual writers themselves, although that seems a little bit restrictive, don’t you think? When you set up my book signings, I’d be happy to let other people sign my books for me because my hand is going to get pretty tired after a while. Did you read that Neil Gaiman signs ALL OF THE BOOKS at his book signings? Like, five hundred books. Man, if you ask me, that guy should focus on writing books instead of signing them. I did like the one about the witches, though.
Anyway, I definitely can’t start my book until Sunday, but Sunday night I have a rehearsal so I probably won’t get much done until Monday night, except there’s a tweetup I’d kind of like to go to on Monday, so hopefully you don’t need my manifesto before, say, the middle of February. I have to take a trip down to my uncle’s farm for a few days – he built a dome for his house. It looks like two huge tits. Which is probably better than it looking like one huge tit because who would like to live in a lopsided boob house? I can probably get a lot done on the road, though. I’ll just take a voice recorder. Should I invoice you for that or will the cost of supplies be included with my advance.
Speaking of my advance, I was rethinking how much it should be. I know I said $250,000 would be good, but I think maybe rounding it up to an even $300,000 would probably be better because then I can pay off my mortgage and the renovations to my house (don’t worry; we started those before you offered me a book deal, and they’re nearly done, so I don’t need to spend a whole lot of time painting. Although, I did do a really cool treatment on the bathroom walls. I’m not big on design stuff, but I did learn that when you do something special to your walls it’s called a “treatment”, which kind of belittles chemotherapy a lot, but I guess words can be used different ways for different things. Speaking of which, do you know the difference between a homonym and an allonym? I guess that’s something my editor will know if you don’t have the answer handy). I’m not entirely sure how the advance works in relation to the royalty payments, but I’m assuming it’s basically that if you’re going to sell $500,000 worth of my books, you can divvy that up however you want, so a little heavier on the front end would really help out. I might even be able to put in that writing studio I want in the attic.
I look forward to hearing from you! I called my mom and told her about the book deal, and she’s super excited. She wants me to ask if you’re going to book the talk shows or if they’re going to be calling us directly, because (and I think she has a really good point here) we might want to get a second line installed for that.