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March 12, 2007

Oh, Okay, One More Thing

Bill Peschel's Scalzi on Writing, Digested, in which he boils down my writing book to 500 very amusingly snarky words:

To be a writer, be just like me. I’m goddamn brilliant. I work hard, have lots of contacts in the industry, and I never, ever rewrite. I work it all out in my head, with the help of hour-long showers. You need to work hard and be confident in yourself. I’ve been told I have my head up my ass. They’re probably right, but I’m a published author. I make over $100,000 a year and have for several years. Do you? No? So shut up.

That sounds nothing like me. Nothing!

Posted by john at March 12, 2007 10:10 AM

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Ray | March 12, 2007 10:18 AM

Either dude is extremely jealous or he is having a very bad day. Whats his deal? Was he joking or serious?

John Scalzi | March 12, 2007 10:22 AM

Bill's been a reader of my work before (note the "Agent to the Stars" on his shelf in the Web site picture) and we've had friendly correspondence. I doubt he's got it in for me in any real way. It could be he's just having fun, or that the book rubbed him the wrong way -- which is entirely possible, since no one likes everything I write.

Either way I'm not attributing it to ill will on Bill's part. I think it's funny.

Chang, dejected at no Scalzicce on the East Coast | March 12, 2007 10:24 AM

Wow. Did someone check for the bug in his ass?

John, wouldn't you drown in an hour long shower with your head in your ass?

Steve Buchheit | March 12, 2007 10:48 AM

Hmm, somebody put on their grumpy-pants today.

And how did he get a copy of your synopsis, John?

Joe Hass | March 12, 2007 10:56 AM

You're absolutely right, John. That article is nothing like your book.

For one thing, I didn't pay $24.50 for his article.

(FWIW: I have Messer Peschel tone as "loving smart-ass" on my scorecard)

Shawn Powers | March 12, 2007 10:57 AM

He should have entered the Scathing Review Contest, and he could have won a copy of... Oh... Um, nevermind...


andrew | March 12, 2007 11:14 AM

The criticism, if true, is valid.

While in law school I picked up a copy of F.L. Bailey's book on being a trial lawyer. I stopped after the first chapter where he told people to study English in university and learn how to fly a plane. Why, well F.Lee Bailey studied English at Yale and then went into the U.S. Air Force as a pilot.

I figured if the rest of the book was like this, it would not be worth reading. I turned out fine without being exactly like F.Lee Bailey.


John Scalzi | March 12, 2007 11:22 AM


"The criticism, if true, is valid."

Well, I don't think this is criticism, per se, it's snark. And in fact I don't think all writers should be like me or do as I have done; that's silliness. In the book I note what's worked for me; I also note that people should recognize what works for me might not work for them.

Christian | March 12, 2007 11:27 AM

Never trust men with strangely cultivated facial hair.

Justine Larbalestier | March 12, 2007 11:40 AM

Ha! That's so funny. I do love The Guardian's digested reads. (It was wise of Mr Peschel to use them as a model.) I long to one day be digested at The Guardian . . . Almost as cool as making Thog's Masterclass.

SupRspi | March 12, 2007 12:50 PM


I like it.

It's the campbells soup version. Condensed for mass consumption.

At least I got to read one version of it. Now to wait for the second printing.

Chad Wright | March 12, 2007 01:01 PM

Is it bad that I thought it was the funniest thing I'd read all day?

It's the mark of a true genius that you do your best thinking in the shower. I know I do, so clearly that makes a genius.



Lisa | March 12, 2007 01:02 PM

I thought that was goddamned hilarious. I should check out the Guardian column. And yeah, you should shoot him a free copy of Coffee Table as an unofficial honorable mention in your scathing review contest.

John Scalzi | March 12, 2007 01:03 PM

Chad Wright:

"Is it bad that I thought it was the funniest thing I'd read all day?"

Since I linked to it because I thought it was funny, I'd have to say no, it's not bad.

Jim Wright | March 12, 2007 03:56 PM

I'm with Shawn, Peschel should have entered that review in the Scathing Reviews Contest. Then Tim (damn him to hell) would have had some competition. At least he called Krissy "hot," so you know, he can't be all bad.

Thought your comment on his blog post was fairly funny too.

Jim Wright | March 12, 2007 07:16 PM

As long as we're talking about Coffee Shop: John, on page 97 you say that the first SciFi book you remember reading was RAH's Farmer in the Sky, that's nine kinds of cool since that's the first SciFi book I remember reading - except my version was called Star Scout. I was a Boy Scout and Heinlein made that seem so cool. I love his Juveniles to this day, and reread them all ever couple of years, Farmer in the Sky is still one of my favorites.

And despite Peschel's snark, I'm enjoying the hell out of Coffee Shop. As I have some ambition to become a professional writer eventually, I'm enjoying the frank insight you've provided into the process. Thanks, John, I wish more writers would be so candid with their advice.

Chuck Wahl | March 12, 2007 07:42 PM

As a newcomer to the works of Mr Scalzi, I must make an addendum to the paragraph in question.

Every book needs a scene that involves Jumping Shoes of Death.

It obviously worked for Android's Dream.

Kelsey | March 12, 2007 07:55 PM

Bill Peschel digested...

I'm not fooling anyone with my mutton chops. I wish I could write like John Scalzi.

Maybe I'd fool some editors, agents, or publishers with a Franz-Josef. Read my blog.

Write snarky things about popular bloggers and you'll get linked to by their popular blogs and maybe discovered so all of your unanswered prayers of literary fame come true.

Love me.

John Scalzi | March 12, 2007 07:57 PM

Now, now. Let's not be mean. Bill's a good guy.

I believe Bill understands I can handle snark.

Martin Langeland | March 12, 2007 08:17 PM

So, if Bill spent as much effort on his own stuff...

would I recognize his name from all the stuff he wrote in the last year?

Does he have tenure someplace which allows him to spend his time doing cricketism?

Is he a really funny stand up comedian building his rep?

--*Scratches head*--

--*Closes tab*--



J at The Dundies | March 12, 2007 08:41 PM

There was a mention of coffee shop writers on Family Guy last night. Can't find it on Youtube yet.

DonBoy | March 12, 2007 08:54 PM

I just YouTubed it here.

John Scalzi | March 12, 2007 09:25 PM


Kelsey | March 12, 2007 09:40 PM

I enjoyed Bill's piece and I can see where he is coming from to some extent.

There are a bevy of how-to / writer's life books out there and to a struggling, aspiring writer they can be annoying.

I've read more than my fair share.

I relish the first chapters about the struggles with rejection, but then badda-bing the author stumbles across a career and starts talking about things I wish I had to worry about: contracts, advances, appearances, getting hit by a car while walking and then writing a best selling book about the experience.

Must. Fight. Back. Bittterness...Ugghhh!!!!

In the matter of full disclosure, I did enter the Coffee Shop contest and was disappointed when I didn't win.

Also, I wish I had half the testerone that Bill has to grow that fine bit of facial hair he sports. Honestly, for me a beard really isn't an option.

Some people can write. Some people can grow facial hair. Bill seems to be pretty good at both.

TCO | March 12, 2007 10:05 PM

It's you, channelling me. Steroids for the pugnacious ego.

Jim Winter | March 12, 2007 10:37 PM

Actually, I know Bill. He's being snarky. It's a parody on a bit The Guardian does to books all the time. Sort of the print version of Starz' Movies in 30 Seconds Performed By Bunnies.

That said, Bill, I give you a wag of my finger.

Don't make me put you on notice.

Josh Jasper | March 14, 2007 04:40 PM

I make over $100,000 a year and have for several years. Do you? No? So shut up.

Actually, that'd be a selling point for the book even if you did come out and say it point blank. Who'd want to take advice on making a living as an author from someone who wasn't making a living as an author?

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