This video was taken when I’d just started writing my first book. Working on second book now. Going through it all over again.
Deadline: June 29th
Reply to this post or the original post with your answer in one sentence. Joe and I will go through them, find our two favorite replies, and send the two winners a signed copy of his album and a signed copy of my novel, Isn’t It Pretty To Think So?
Travel is little beds and cramped bathrooms. It’s old television sets and slow Internet connections. Travel is extraordinary conversations with ordinary people. It’s waiters, gas station attendants, and housekeepers becoming the most interesting people in the world. It’s churches that are compelling enough to enter. It’s McDonald’s being a luxury. It’s the realization that you may have been born in the wrong country. Travel is a smile that leads to a conversation in broken English. It’s the epiphany that pretty girls smile the same way all over the world. Travel is tipping 10% and being embraced for it. Travel is the same white T-shirt again tomorrow. Travel is accented sex after good wine and too many unfiltered cigarettes. Travel is flowing in the back of a bus with giggly strangers. It’s a street full of bearded backpackers looking down at maps. Travel is wishing for one more bite of whatever that just was. It’s the rediscovery of walking somewhere. It’s sharing a bottle of liquor on an overnight train with a new friend. Travel is ‘Maybe I don’t have to do it that way when I get back home.
Nick Miller, Isn’t It Pretty to Think So? (via ethereally)
This is certainly the most popular passage in Isn’t It Pretty to Think So? (at least according to online sharing). Long before I started writing that book—while staying in a small hotel in Munich, Germany—I scribbled these words into a Moleskine notebook about my experience abroad. I guess I’m glad I found a way to include them in the book later on.
"The novel is a thoughtful meditation on what love and loss is, and how the two wind around each other so tightly. Miller deftly avoids clichés by creating strong bonds between characters, which rise above the anthem of the age-old tale of the struggling writer.
The novel is highly relatable and powerfully emotional, and it begs for a second read-through.”
Need a Woman by Friday
My friend Joe King (you may know him from The Fray) just released a single—from his upcoming solo album—called “Need a Woman by Friday.” Joe is a brilliantly talented singer-songwriter, and we’ve have had some fantastic conversations about music and writing and the general artistic process.
(Here we are after some whiskey on a snowy night)
Anyway, I’ve been helped out by so many in the artistic community, and now I’d love to share the news of his new lovely creation with you all. Since his first single is called “Need a Woman by Friday,” I thought we could get a little creative and have some fun. Let’s say it’s Monday. Now let’s imagine that you have only until Friday to woo the woman or man of your dreams. What exactly would you do if you had once chance? Reply to this post with your answer in one sentence. Joe and I will go through them, find our two favorite replies, and send the two winners a signed copy of his album and a signed copy of my novel, Isn’t It Pretty To Think So?
You Can’t Go Home Again
While thumbing through You Can’t Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe—a novel about a writer, George Webber, who dreams of literary success and achieves it—I read this: “Every author’s first book is important. It means the world to him.”
Immediately intrigued, I read on and discovered this passage:
A man learns a great deal about life from writing and publishing a book. When Webber wrote his, he had ripped off a mask that his home town had always worn, but he had not quite understood that he was doing it. Only after it was printed and published did he fully realize the fact. All he had meant and hoped to do was to tell the truth about his life as he had known it.
Wow! The page I’d flipped to (282) was crammed with sentiments that really resonated with me, especially these two paragraphs:
He was to become convinced as he grew older that if one wants to write a book that has any interest or any value whatever, he has got to write it out of the experience of life. A writer, like everyone else, must use what he has to use. He can’t use something that he hasn’t got. If he tries to—and many writers have tried it—what he writes is no good. Everybody knows that.
So Webber had drawn upon the experience of his own life. He had written about his home town, about his family and the people he had known there. And he had done it in a manner of naked directness and reality that was rather rare in books. That was really what caused the trouble.
I’m not Thomas Wolfe (or nowhere near his achievements as a writer), but I can say that after my book was published last summer, the people closest to me began to act very differently around me.
In a social environment of familiar people, I was no longer “the guy writing a book.” I was “the guy who wrote about our lives.” These labels, I quickly realized, have very different meanings attached to them. The relaxed, jovial disposition my friends normally had in my presence was, after the publication of Isn’t It Pretty To Think So?, twisted into a more cautiously erect one—as if I were a reporter on the scene investigating a contentious issue.
“So are you going to write about tonight?” a friend might say, only half joking.
“Don’t make me look stupid,” another friend might say, again only half joking.
It is true that I wrote a novel based on my own experiences, but I never once wrote a true depiction of someone I know; all my characters were bits and pieces of everyone I’ve ever met, and all the people I’ve ever wanted to meet. Like George Webber, I cared about one thing: to create the truest, most honest depiction of the world I knew at the time. And I was so wrapped up in that challenge that I didn’t realize what it could do to my relationships (family, friends, old co-workers).
And now, after some reflection, I’m confronting the possibility that I’ve never really revealed much of myself to any of my “friends.” Do any of us? I’d be willing to bet that those who do, have much fewer friends that those who do not. Honesty and openness seem to have an adverse effect on popularity. But we don’t write to be popular; we write because we have to.
And whether one person reads your stuff or a million people do, if you write something “in a manner of naked directness and reality,” your world will change. But I think this is a good thing. To me, it’s worth it.
There’s this interesting idea that we make art to feel less alone in the world. Perhaps it should be that we make art to feel better about being so alone in the world.