Monday, March 10, 2008

Me and Me2

Let me be very clear about this: I did not write the novel Me2. Yes, the book certainly sounds like a book I would write: a unusually constructed tale about queer identity, human existence, and the horror of having your life copied and stolen from you. Certainly it's with a publisher I have worked with many times before, having edited many anthologies, written one novel - Running Dry - and three previous collections of short stores - Dirty Words, Speaking Parts, and Filthy. Absolutely the style of the book - surreal yet lightly conversational and easily comprehensible - is very similar to styles I've used in past, for instance in my recently released gay vampire novel The Very Bloody Marys (from Haworth Books).

But I did not write Me2. Someone else did: someone who is attempting to steal my identity as a writer. Through devious means this shadowy impostor is attempting to supplant my career and even my existence. Rest assured that even though he at first appears to be my equal or even - I must grudgingly admit - my superior with regard to writing ability, I will not rest until he is exposed for the impostor he is. I want my life returned to me.

But if I did write Me2 here's how I would go about it.

I have to admit that I've always been fascinated by the illusion of individuality; how every one of us clings to the idea of being unique in the world yet feels comforted by a crowd of strangers who might share only the most superficial of interests with us. I also am interested in situations were lives are stolen: identity theft, impostors ... notions like that. What does it say about us if our 'selves', our identities, can be stolen, replaced, or sold off?

So if I was going to write a book like Me2 the proposal would come first. Then, with fingers firmly crossed, I'd submit it to, say, the great folks at Alyson Books. If luck and potential sales were on my side, Alyson Books would agree and a contract would be sent.

Then would come the fun -- and the hard -- part. That is if I were to write a book like Me2. Which, as I've said, I did not.

But if I had, I'd then break the book down into eleven or so pieces, each a set length -- say 5,000 to 6,000 words. After doing 5,000-word chapters for my first book, Running Dry, I swore I'd only do 3,000-word chapters going forward, which I did do for The Very Bloody Marys, but there's something about the idea of a book like Me2 that lends itself to longer chapters. In fact, what I might do -- if I were to write a book like Me2 -- is start each chapter with a brief monologue from a character trying to explain the presence of the double (Robot? Alien? Clone? Doppelganger? Evil twin? Long lost brother?). That way the reader would have their own guesses about what's happening tossed out until it gets to the wonderfully weird ending and final explanation to What's Really Going On.

Even though I didn't write Me2, I imagine that writing it would be a lot of fun, giving me the chance to have a lot of crazy, strange, surreal fun with the story. So crazy, strange, and surreal that I would never tip off a reader by, say, going into too much detail in a How I Wrote The Book piece like this one. Instead I'd only drop vague hints as well as warped and twisted tricks such as claiming not to have written the book, blaming the whole thing on a mysterious impostor ... which, naturally, is what the book is all about. That is, if I were to write something like Me2, which, as I've said, I didn't.

I usually write about 3,000 or so words a week, which is what happens when you have a day job as well as friends and family, so I'd probably have the book done in about six or so months. With Running Dry, I practically rewrote the book after I'd finished the first draft but since then I rarely touch the finished manuscript except to give it a final, careful read. Even so, no one can proof their own work, so I'd then send the manuscript over to my cherished partner-in-all-things Sage Vivant, who'd then read and copy edit the manuscript for me.

I should probably mention an interesting fact about writing a book like Me2. The book, if I were going to write it, would technically be a gay horror novel, as it would be written with a gay male focus and would be published by Alyson Books, which publishes gay and lesbian fiction as well as non-fiction books. Even though I did not write Me2, the one that has recently come out from my impostor, I would have no problem with it being a gay book as I am extensively published in that genre. Running Dry and The Very Bloody Marys are also gay horror books and three of my four collections were queer-specific.

But I'm straight.

I've never hidden my orientation. Far from it: I've written several essays and such on being a straight man writing gay stories. How it happened, and for that matter why it still happens, is simple: I'm a writer. I love to write, more than just about anything else. What it's about and who the stories are for really doesn't matter to me: having an audience who likes what I do, and gives me chances to write more, is what gets my motor going, so to speak. As I like to say, I might be straight but my orientation really is writer.

Starting out, I wrote a lot of queer porn. It was wonderful to sell what I wrote, and to have readers, editors, and then publishers want more of it. In fact I consider it a glorious compliment that I've worked with so many gay and lesbian writers, editors, and publishers who look beyond my own orientation and see just a writer who lives to tell a fun story.

A fun story like Me2. If I'd written it, that is.

After the book would be copy edited, it would then, naturally, go out to Alyson Books for their final thumbs-up. After that the novel would enter Alyson's pipeline: editing, cover design, back cover copy, promotion, distribution -- all of that.

Then it would be finished: from an few bubbling ideas to a proposal, from a proposal to an agreement, from an agreement to a manuscript, manuscript to finished book. From nothing to a few megs on my laptop's hard drive, then from bits and bytes to something you could go out and buy and, hopefully, enjoy.

But I didn't write Me2. I don't know who did. I've read the book, of course. And while I have to admit that it is well written, clever, haunting, disturbing, but also witty and evocative, I am still very disturbed that there is someone out there who is not only attempting to steal my life and writing career but is somehow doing a better job of being me than even I could have.

So I implore you: buy this book! Read it for yourself and discover the horrible truth of Me2!

I just wish I written the damned thing myself.

-- The REAL M.Christian

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