Hey, everyone. Mailer here. I’ve been asked to let the conformist mass in on the secrets to my success as a writer. It’s easy for me to write the way that I do because I have such a keen eye for all of the suffering in the world. Life is a size thirteen in the balls, my friends. It’s just one crushing disappointment after another until finally, you find yourself lying on a bed of other people’s money, completely naked, drunk as a skunk off of a bottle of 18-year-old Scotch that you swiped from Vonnegut’s liquor cabinet. I don’t know why the hell you would want to write anyway, given the rejections that probably lie in wait for you. I wouldn’t even write this damn thing, but I’ll smear my name all over whatever I possibly can so here goes:
1. Assume that everyone in the world is living better than you are. Assume that they are all more privileged. Assume that, if need be, they could literally get away with murder. Then, ingest enough Quaaludes to kill a family of monkeys and sit down in front of your typewriter. At that point, you should have enough angst to sufficiently carry you through your novel. Remember, a novel isn’t good unless it’s angry enough to make even the most benign of actions seem offensive.
2. It’s not paranoia if they are really following you. Everyone in power is out to get you. They are trying to obscure the truth from you. It is your job to educate the conformist, consumer masses to the depth of their misapprehension. They’d be more than willing to live the rest of their lives in a deluded fog, with their debit cards and their soymilk chai tea lattés. Let the truth be you guide.
3. Do not be afraid of publicity. Your name should be all over this thing. If you are going to make a documentary film, be sure to credit yourself as writer, director, producer, costumer designer, grip, and craft-services coordinator. In your novel, it should be totally obvious that you are your main character. In my new novel, the main character’s name is “Gorman Tailor.”
4. Work only between the hours of 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. You will end up feverish and over-exhausted. Ignore these symptoms. They only mean that you are doing well.
5. Make sure that you use liberal use of the comma, semicolon, colon, and apostrophe as much as you can to extend the length of your sentences and, thereby, create the illusion of deep thought and/or great revelation in order to convince the people of one or more of the following: that you know what you are talking about; that you have any solid footing in what they call “reality”; that they are one of the little Japanese people, running frenziedly, futilely, for they are about to get squashed by a figurative Godzilla.
And there you go. Five quick tips from Norman Mailer on how to succeed in writing without really giving a shit. I mean, look at me. I’m an aging, neurotic, psychotic conspiracy theorist who hasn’t written a novel worth reading in 35 years. Do I let that stop me? No, because I have a plan. I have a formula. Yes, I have a formula, but I won’t tell, because all you people are out to steal it. Give it a shot, you pansies. You want some of Mailer? I’m right here waiting for you, and I’ve got my boxing gloves on. I pounce when you least expect it. Bring it on. Good luck, suckers.
P.S. Up yours, Updike.