It is, I note with genuine awe and awkward humility, something I have heard from quite a few people over the years: "You should write a book!" I know that this is a very high compliment indeed, and I am always very touched that people like my writing so much that they encourage me to bring it to a wider audience (and a fuller bank account, assumably). But no one likes my response; they always look so disappointed when I answer, thank you so very much, that is so cool and kind, but I am not that special. This isn't so much a lack of confidence or low self-esteem as solid pragmatism on my part.

For any writer to be published anywhere is a wonderful thing. But the brass ring was always the "book deal." If you secured an agent, who secured you a contract to write a book that you would be paid for and that other people could actually buy and read, you were one of a tiny minority of scribes that "made it." Who wouldn't want to be able to hold a real book in your hands with your own work inside it, and your own name on the cover, right? That's pretty nifty, and was something I used to think about.

I guess you could say I had an epiphany a few years ago while strolling around in a huge Borders bookstore. It went on and on and on and on, thousands of books about every possible subject you could think of. As a reader, it's exciting to wade through all that delicious brain candy. But when you view the same place as a writer, you aren't are drowning. What a nightmare! EVERYONE HAS WRITTEN A DAMN BOOK, or at least it sure seems like it. So many, many does YOURS ever have a chance to stand out and be noticed at all? I looked at all those books differently then, all of them competing for attention and consumer dollars, and almost all of them never even getting a single look.

So many books...and then the independent bookstores started closing. And then the big box book retailers. Bye bye, Borders, hello Amazon, and hello Internet, and hello fractured attention spans and fractured wallets of the public. The book market, like the music market, is grossly over-saturated with product. Publishers, in order to stay in business, must choose very wisely. If vampire romances sell, vampire romances are what will be published. If you don't write vampire romances, and you aren't already famous or have a TV show or some other kind of built-in PR for your writing, you probably won't be offered a contract, unless you come up with the NEW trend, like teen retro "Mad Men" romance novels or "Celebrity Beach Butts." Do excellent writers with excellent books get published? Of course they do. But most of them make very, very little from their work.

I wondered, in that Borders, if going to all that effort to write and sell a book wasn't just one giant vanity project after all. In sizing up the market and my own style and skills, if I were to secure a publisher, it would be very unlikely that the project would be profitable. What does it mean to have a book that no one but a few friends and family and some of you nice readers here would buy? It's kinda cool, but it's not life-changing. In the end, all you get to say is, "I wrote a book once." Self-publishing is a rapidly growing trend, but again, what you are selling has to be something that a lot of people are willing to buy. I don't think it's worth doing just to wank out over your own name in print, to be blunt.

I think if you want to write a book, my advice would be the same thing I would give to musicians: only do it if you MUST do it, if it's your passion and your burning goal in life, and if you would suffer more from not doing it than by living with all the huge sacrifices you will have to make to pursue your dreams. It's never the wrong thing to go with what makes you happy and whole, and in that case the work itself is the real payoff, not the contracts. Go for it, and I wish you the best of luck.

But for me...well...I have written a book. Several, actually. They are all right here living in this website in the 2232 posts I have made. There's a short fiction and poetry book. A family life collection of essays. Essays on politics and law and social theory. Let's not forget music and photography and goats! Parodies and humor and photoshops of terrible greeting cards and old children's books re-writes! Everything I have to say is here already, albeit all jumbled up, stored in the ether. Is any of it any good? Maaaaaybe. Book-worthy? Maaaaybe not, or maybe not now; I don't know.

What I realized was that having my own book (or record, or whatever other creative stuff), wasn't anywhere near as important to me as having a life where I could enjoy making things I liked without worrying that they were "good enough" or "commercial enough" to be sold. I could never even express how grateful I am for all the amazing opportunities and beautiful friends that have come my way just because I write on this very modest site. That has been life-changing, and I don't think I could feel more successful even with a New York Times best-seller. No, really. It's been really awesome being not that special, and I hope to remain in a few folks' hearts while I'm still bangin' out the posts.

Thank you.