Friday, February 24, 2017

Dazed and Confused, but Too Tough to Die

If your writing process/life could be summarized as the title of a song – what song would it be? i.e. Born to be Wild, The Long and Winding Road… And why? 

by Paul D. Marks

Well, I’m not sure if this song would cover the entire process or life of a writer – this writer – summarized in a single song, but at least part of it would be the Beatles’ Paperback Writer*. The song opens with these lyrics, “Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book? It took me years to write, will you take a look?” and I always wanted to open a query letter with just those words. Never have, but you never know.

The song goes on to tell the story of someone who wants to be a ‘paperback’ writer. He’s written a story of a dirty man, who has a wife who doesn’t understand. He has a steady job, but he wants to be a paperback writer. He’s even amenable to the editing process, willing to change the length. And he tempts the editor he’s writing to with the thought that his book could make a million for them overnight. Who doesn’t want that, right? Though we’re told not to do things like that in a query letter. And on top of everything else, the song has a great guitar riff.

But it’s not the only song that comes to mind. At various stages of my life all of these song titles (below) could have described my writing career and writing angst. And, as Cathy said earlier in the week, it’s really just the titles or a line or two that applies. That said, here goes, my writing life in a succession of song titles (in no particular order, that would take too much concentration):

Hooray for Hollywood
Celluloid Heroes
I’ve Seen That Movie Too
Too Tough To Die
Long and Winding Road
Trouble is a Friend
Not Fair
Comfortably Numb
No Expectations
Gimme Shelter
Let it Bleed
Rip This Joint
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
Yer Blues
Low Budget
Living on a Thin Line
Stop Your Sobbing
No More Looking Back
Iron Man
Dazed and Confused
Good Times, Bad Times
Don’t Let It Bring You Down
The Loneliest Place on the Map
My Enemies Have Sweet Voices
For No One (when a story gets rejected)
Break on Through
Art Fails
Only the Lonely
The Long and Winding Road
The End

Well, you get the idea. There’s been ups and downs, good times, bad times and I’ve often been dazed and confused. Times I wanted to throw in the towel and times when I felt on top of the world. So, despite all the turbulence, you just have to stick with it, believe in yourself and do it because you must, not because it will “make a million for you overnight”.

And when you’re done with your story, and to bring it full circle with Paperback Writer:

“If you must return it, you can send it here, But I need a break and I want to be a paperback writer.”

Paul McCartney performing Paperback Writer

*“Paperback Writer” written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney


And now for the usual BSP:

Episode 2 of Writer Types from Eric Beetner and Steve W. Lauden is here, with a bunch of great stuff. Interviews and reviews with Reed Farrell Coleman, Joe Lansdale Jess Lourey, agent Amy Moore-Benson, Kris E Calvin, Danny Gardner, Kate Hackbarth Malmon, Dan Malmon, Erik Arneson, Dana Kaye and……….me. Be there or be y'know. 

Also, I’m over at the ITW Big Thrill—Thriller Roundtable this week talking about “How long does it take you to write a book? Why do some stories flow so much faster than others?” along with Karen Harper, Jean Harrington, David Alexander, Heidi Renee Mason, Winter Austin, Adrian Magson, Susan Fleet, A.J. Kerns and Ronnie Allen. – Please come and join in the discussion.

Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea is available at and Down & Out Books.


Art Taylor said...

I figured this question might be a good one for you (or was it one you came up with yourself?)--either way, nice post here. And "Paperback Writer," of course!!!!

Unknown said...

A most mesmeric list there, like a life flashing by.
Paperback Writer!! I was pulled out to Karaoke night in December and had my friend sing that one for me. IT was terrible but I felt like royalty.
Also I checked the links, and have them bookmarked. Cool!

Harley Mazuk said...

A friend sent me this the other night--"Raymond Chandler Evening" by Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians. That song suits me.
Find on YouTube at

GBPool said...

Most of the songs that inspire me come from the last century. To say that I am totally square is an understatement. But when I'm in need of kick in the literary pants, I go for "The Impossible Dream" to let me know this isn't a cakewalk. Then I might hum "Luck Be a Lady" from Guys and Dolls. That let's me know writers need luck, too. Then venturing into this century, I go for "You Raise Me Up" because it's so good. And the kicker is "The Sound of Silence" by Disturbed. God is that good, and then I go back to writing. I have 17 books out there. Something must have worked.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Art. Funny thing is I didn’t really think about as I came up with the question, but of course it would have to be Paperback Writer.

Thanks, Rachel. I kind of felt that way too, like life, at least writing life, flashing by. And next time it’s your turn to sing Paperback Writer at Karaoke ;-)

Thanks, Harley. Don’t know that one but I’ll check it out.

Like you say, Gayle, you have 17 books out so something – those songs? – must have worked. And wish I had thought of The Impossible Dream!

Susan C Shea said...

What a playlist! Sorry to be a bit late responding. Friday was busy, but I had to check in with you, knowing you were 100% more likely than me to have a rich selection of material to draw on for this Q&A.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Susan. I guess I've felt what all those titles say at one point or another. And as I said on Monday, I really liked your selection of Hotel California. Wish I'd thought of it.

Anonymous said...

I'm so tired by the beatles would top my list, followed by pink floyd's animals album for sci-fi endevours.