Publish This Book

It started over lunch with a friend.

Melissa is smart as a whip, well spoken, and deliberate with every thought and action.  But for some reason, she is still willing to occasionally meet with my grammatically challenged ass to discuss writing and gab about life in general.

Melissa:  “I have to tell you about this book I’m reading.”

Me:  “A novel?”

Melissa:  “No, it’s called Publish This Book.  I am constantly thinking about you while reading it.”

Me:  “Um, I think you’re really special, too?”

Melissa:  “He’s like the boy version of you.”

Me:  “Does he confuse ‘their’ and ‘there’?”

Melissa:  “He uses the word ‘fuck’ about four times a page and is constantly making dick jokes.”

Me:  “I don’t make dick jokes.”

Melissa:  “Uh huh.  He’s doing a reading here in Hoboken next week.  We should go.”

…and so we did.  Sadly, my copy of the book didn’t arrive in time for me to read a single frickin’ page before meeting the author, Stephen Markley.  To make things even more awkward, what I had thought would be a lecture-type event on campus with fifty-odd audience members turned out to be a tiny book club meeting of ten or so women in a private home.  Oops.

I shifted from foot to foot as these long time friends discussed last weekend’s crazy ATV race that took place at the upstate summer estate of one of the club members.  I tried to work my way into the conversation, throwing my nervous laughter into the robust cackles from the crowd.  Always a smooth operator, my faux chortle caused me to choke on my gum and spend the next five minutes red-faced and teary-eyed while attempting to subtlety work my way closer to the open bottle of wine I’d spotted across the room.

The author and his peeps arrived.  I used the distraction as a chance to pour myself a heaping glass of wine.  I took a big gulp and listened as the hostess teased Markley about his poor ATV driving skills.  He too had attended the wild weekend getaway.  Awesome.  I took another swig and topped off my wine glass.  Fortunately, Melissa arrived mere moments later.  She, too, seemed somewhat surprised by the setting.

I practically sprinted to her side, but before we could say two words, Markley was introducing himself.  It turns out the boy version of me is of average height, is in great shape, and drinks Heineken.  We can’t be THAT much alike, I thought to myself.  So far, I’m underwhelmed.

Then he shook my hand.  August 17th, 2010 is the day I found out a handshake could be sexy.  If I had made it any further through my Big Gulp of wine, I probably would have tried to see just how much of HIS fist I could fit in my mouth.  Sadly though, it didn’t seem like THAT kind of party.

After a night of truly bizarre Q&A with the group (and also because my copy finally arrived the next day), I sat down to digest the nearly 500 pages of what the boy version of me had written.  Markley (at least in book form) was kind enough to keep me giggling while I sat and waited over two hours to see Aloysius last week.  If you can make me laugh in an oncologist’s waiting room, you’re doing something right.

Here, I’ll let him explain what the book is about:

I can’t even describe this book, and I wrote the damn thing.  Basically, it’s like this: fed up with the Byzantine quest of trying to publish a novel, I decide instead to cut to the chase and write a memoir about trying to publish a book – this book, to be precise. …it’s about much more than publishing a book.  It’s about life and love and friendship; politics, pop culture, and basketball; sex, drugs, and mild, inoffensive, slow-tempo Christian Rock.

Reading the book I was struck by two things.  Well, maybe more than two things.  I mean, how long can a girl have “Sister Christian” stuck in her head?  Focus, Elly.  The time has come.  You know that you’re the only one…right ONE!

One – he is so fucking disciplined!  Back as a wee grade school kid, he was writing an hour every single day.  I write three or four hours a day and I only have four damn chapters done for my book.  (Oh bee tee dubs, I totally never told you that story before because it doesn’t have a vagina-related punchline, but I have a little side project I’ll tell you more about some day.)  Damnit, Markley.  That’s frustrating.

Two – he is so goddamned smart.  I gave up trying to take notes on the parts that resonated with me, because I’d end up transcribing the whole damn book.  Not only does he have real, insightful things to say (and some exceptionally funny dick jokes) he says it well.  Fucker.

But I was relieved to find he occasionally acknowledges that it’s hard, that he WORKS at it, that he has insecurities about his writing, too.  I relaxed a little when I saw a sliver of light through the crack of his pompous, overconfident, frat-boy-but-not-a-frat-boy front.

Want to know when he completely hooked me?  On page 276, way down at the bottom of the page while he’s visiting his drug dealer and taking in the scene at the dude’s apartment:

The big dude smacks a fist on the arm of the recliner, scuffing the duck tape that holds in the foam.  “Rod Stewart!” he barks.  “Rod fucking Stewart.”

Here’s the downside.  I’m not entirely sure Markley’s book inspired me to write more or write better.  Instead, he’s left me questioning if I have it in me (that’s what she said) to write a book.  But what does Markley have that I don’t have?  (Other than a penis, an impressively low BMI, and a solid command of the English language.)

I wasn’t laughing the entire book.  This passage, in particular, stuck with me:

It’s a funny thing, I think as I trudge through the cold that glitters on the pavement, the way you build a web of people around you, the way each of them occupies his or her own hub, and just when you think you can’t possibly care for any more people, they just come along, and pretty soon this new person has a view of the world that informs your own, that you want to cherish and protect.

Coincidentally, that’s how I think about you, Interwebz.  Thanks for all the nice thoughts last week.  I can’t even begin to tell you how much they meant to me.  You’re my favorite.

Oh and Markley is doing a reading tomorrow night (Tuesday, August 31st) at the Houndstooth Pub in Manhattan.  I’ll be there knocking back beers far cheaper than those fancy Heinekens, if you’d care to tag along.  If you’re nice, maybe he’ll even shake your hand.


  1. Oh, great. I go back to work tomorrow and now I need to get this book. Like I’ll ever find time to read it until next summer. Wait . . . we have two days of professional development. That’s two days of sitting in an auditorium. Hmmmm. If I can find it today, I just may enjoy professional development. Not as much as lying on my couch, but still.

    And also, the last paragraph you quoted? Perfect. And ditto.

  2. 1. sold! i’m buying this book.

    2. what andrea said, that last paragraph you quoted made me think of you and the glitter gang bangers. love!

    3. i feel about you the way you feel about markley – you have real, insightful things to say (and great vagina jokes) and you say it well. you need to write that book! you have exactly what it takes.

    1. Except he’s five years younger than I am. Though, based on his writing, it’s possible that he hid out in a womb that long. I don’t even know what that means. More wine!

  3. Dude. Forget this guy- YOU are writing a book? Christmas gifts? Check. Ok, wait. Maybe just for my sisters. My mom likes to read religious books.

  4. P.S. Sister Christian can last in your head just as long as Toto’s “Africa.”

    And I’m so jealous of your four chapters that you might just have to be the punch line for my next vagina joke. Dammit.

  5. I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!! I’m super jealous that you met him. I sort of doubt that he will be coming to Louisville, but maybe since you will officially be old friends this time, maybe he will let you put his fist in your mouth??!! If so, take pix!! Keep writing gf!

  6. I remember you mentioning something about a book… Did not realize just HOW much time you spend writing each day. I am extremely impressed! Four chapters is significant… at least, in my eyes. You are wonderful, as is your writing. I look forward to buying the book someday!

  7. Alright, I’ll give you the Rod Stewart aversion but is there a Bitchin’ Sangria recipe in there too? Does he play a Herbert? Does he have a gravitationaly pull for all things unicorn? Has he ever been the best matron-of-honor ever?

    Well then, keep writing, Cuteness!

  8. Hey! I have no idea how I found your blog, but I like your openness. I dont like the scrolling comments in the block of stuff at the right side of the page. They are distracting my reading. Have you seen the film “Wit”? I dont know how you could get a hold of it, but something tells me you might like it.

  9. ok, i just LOOKED AT THE CLOCK when i read this post because i was all ‘ can i drive up to Manhattan in four hours to see my ho and her cool author pal whose book i can buy and get signed’ ?!?? And then i was all FUCK! Two of my kids have goddamned soccer practice today and hubby is out of town. and GAH! wish i could be there. will buy book on amazon- he should be paying you commission! or letting you sit on his face. something.

  10. Wow. One more person to add to me “who I want to be like when I grow up” list. It’s okay because I’ll still leave you at the top. You’re right up there with Karen from “Will & Grace”. I’ll have to read the book before I decide if he joins you on the “people I stalk when I have free time” list though.

    I can’t wait to read your book. No pressure though,k?

  11. Do you think you can replicate the hand shake? I am dying to feel what a sexy handshake is like.

    And like the others, the last paragraph had me in tears. Ok. Maybe I am the only one crying after reading it. It should be hailed as the reason why the internet is so attractive to so many of us. Too often who you (get to) know and hang out with is arbitrarily determined by geography and job (and perhaps luck), with the internet I feel that the playing field has been leveled and the obstacles to find the limited pool of people who you feel KNOW you are eradicated. It becomes possible to locate these people a la Professor Xavier in X-Men… I’m rambling. Now go PUBLISH YOUR BOOK!

  12. OK, beautiful post. I felt like I was there (oh, right, I was). I must take TOTAL responsibility for discovering that you and Stephen were separated at birth, and five years apart, and for you having that cloud-parting handshake. All thanks to me. You’re welcome. You can bring me a cupcake.

  13. Hello God, it’s me Kelly.
    Please let Elly’s book have a friendly minataur, a helpful wise narwhal, at least two wood sprites with bad tempers, the ultimate world altering battle between good and evil unicorns, a deceptive and shallow princess and a well hung but sexually frustrated vampire.
    That is all.
    Good night and don’t let Stewart Copeland die.
    Love me.

    1. That’s it. We need to have tea stat. I don’t know why “tea” of all things but it just seemed appropriate. Maybe because Stewie is British? And I want you to have a chance to crumpet all over his face? Maybe that. Whatevs. I miss you.

      1. Just promise me I can read a rough draft and then watch me subsequently leak it over the internet causing you to pull a Misery by burning it on a charcoal grill while cursing me and fighting off literary agents.
        You know that’s how this has to go down.
        Tea it is. Let’s dance.

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