1.06.2011

Fuck You And Your PhD In English Lit

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you might remember this tweet from December 20th:



We're all pretty friendly at my gym. You see the same people all the time, and thankfully, the vast majority of regulars are all pretty friendly, nice, good people. We get along. Some of us do stuff together, like cycling or running events.

What's really interesting though: most of us don't really know what each other do outside of the gym. For the most part, we all pretty much exist as the people we are when we're working out, and that's great. Occasionally, though, someone will find out what I do and we'll talk about it. Sometimes, its about web development. Other times, graphic design. And of course, there'll be times where folks find out I write.

So, a few weeks ago, a dude who works out at my gym chatting me up about publishing and whatnot. He'd been casually mentioning writing and whatnot the past few workouts, going out of his way to say hi.

This is a guy who, previous to this newfound interest in me, shared nods and a few smiles now and again. Occasionally, he'd make a comment about what I was lifting, or a cute girl. But that's about it.

Apparently, one of the people at my gym who reads my blog and stuff told him that I write for a living (which is only sorta true, because I also do a lot of other crap). He asked for my phone number so we could meet up and he could buy me coffee, which is bullshitese for "I really just want to get as much info as i can out of you to accomplish my own goals."

And that's fine. It happens. And I'm 100% okay with it, because that's part of my whole mission: telling people how to do this whole thing for themselves and get their writing out there.

And he did call to ask if we could meet up. But I couldn't make it out that day, because I had an assignment for a client due (which is actually kinda cool, and I'll share it with you guys on Monday). So, instead of understanding my situation and doing what he should have, which was say "Oh, no big deal man, when is good for you? Let's reschedule" (which I would have done), he just starts asking the questions he wanted the answers to. He probably thought it was one hell of a great thing that I couldn't make it, because I just saved him the price of Starbucks to get information.

Now, I don't want to be a dick (yep, contrary to what you may think, I actually do try to be a decent person), So, holding my phone between my shoulder and ear as I resumed working on the project, I said "Really, the only advice i have for everyone is just to sit down and write it out. Even when you think it sucks, or you have no idea where it's going, or how to get it there, just write. You learn on the way."

His response? "Well, I'm okay on how to actually write a book, I do have a PhD in English Lit. I wanted publishing advice."

Oh. This.

So, I told him that it was actually really easy -- he could go to cafepress, lulu or lightning source and set up an account, and put the sucker out there. Basically, all the stuff I put in the No Bullshit Guide.

He got really snippy. "I'm not interested in vanity press," he said with a snide bit of verbal italics around the words "vanity press."

Of course, I tried to educate him on the difference, and it wasnt' doing much good, he wanted contacts at Penguin or advice on how to make some. "Can you introduce me to your editor?" He actually asked.

So I explained that I made my contacts was writing my book on the internet, asking everyone who read me to tell their friends, publishing the paper book myself and selling thousands of copies to people who supported me. "Penguin came to me, I didn't go to them," I told him.

He was silent for a moment. "So it was luck?" he finally asked.

"Isn't everything?" I replied. "I'm lucky that people got behind me and supported me."

"Well that doesn't do much good for those of us with more skill than luck, I guess." He actually said that.

Wow.

I began grinding my teeth. "And that means..." I sort of asked with my trailing verbal ellipsis.

"You admitted yourself, you dropped out of college," he said.

"So you feel that having a degree makes you skilled in writing a book?" I asked pretty bluntly.

"Well, yeah," he answered.

"And that skill cost what, 40 grand? 50 grand?" I asked. And before he could answer, I said "Glad I paid absolutely nothing to learn to write and instead bought all those rabbits' feet."

"Wow..." he said. "That's kinda rude."

"Yep," I said. "And you're in luck. I just flipped a coin and it came up tails, which means I get another book deal. Look for this story in it when it comes out."

He sat there, stunned.

"I'll sign it for you, if you want," I added. "Do you want me to add the 'PhD' at the end of your name?"

He hung up.

So, today was the first day since that conversation that I've seen him at the gym. He came right up to me and said "Dude, I have to apologize..."

"Hey, doc," I said, interrupting him. "Get your book out yet?"

He chuckled that fake ass chuckle people chuckle when they'd rather be slapping you than chuckling. "Nope, not yet," he said, then continued on his original track. "I apologize, I was pretty rude the other day."

"Not at all," I said. "I've met self-important entitled people in the past. I know what you lot are like." I started putting weights on a bar so I could actually do something useful while in the building besides wasting my time with the guy.

He sorta stammered, then blurted out, "So, when can we get that coffee?"

I looked up at him. "Got a quarter?" I asked.

He patted his pockets. "No?" he replied.

I looked around the gym and caught the eye of a guy we both know. "Hey, got a quarter?" I asked him. He dug into his bag and produced a nickel. "Good enough," I said, and I took it from him. "Call it," I said to the good doctor, and flipped it into the air.

"Heads," he said with a strange look.

It came up tails.

"Sorry man," I said, "Looks like you're going to have to rely on that talent of yours, cause you're just not lucky enough."

He looked me up and down, smirked, and walked away.