Reality TV. Just...stay with me for a minute.
I hate reality TV as much as anyone--more so than most people, maybe--but it draws eyeballs. My wife sent me a video of a celebrity chef the other day who is (hold on to your goddamn hat) on tour, selling out auditoriums, hawking his bestselling books and t-shirts, and, well, cooking food. In the video, he stormed and stomped across the stage like a rock star, flames shooting up from the risers, his "backup band" (prep cooks) chopping scallions and mushrooms behind him while the crowd roared insanely.
And I thought: c'mon! This guy is a chef! He cooks food! If he can do it, why not celebrity writers? Why can't Grisham or Rowling take the stage to Metallica's "Wherever I May Roam", throw up the devil horns, growl a few choice lines from their latest tome, wink at groupies in the crowd. Awesome. People would flock. People would go home and read.
I now present a few minutes of the pilot episode of my new show called, simply, The Writer. Here's the setup: ten aspiring writers are locked in a Manhattan flat, all competing for a three-book deal with Simon & Schuster. There are literary "coaches" hanging about who offer encouragement, advice, and tough love.
INT. MANHATTAN LOFT - DAYTIME
JULIE SMITH (competitor) frets over a laptop.
My God, I just can't get myself out of this plot hole! Why did I decide in the fifteenth chapter to make my Franciscan Monk a pimp-turned-spy? Why? Why do I hate myself?
HARLAN ELLISON (coach) slinks up behind and rubs her shoulders. He is standing on a step stool and working her over with the intensity of a teenager on prom night.
There, there. You just put that mean old story away for now and let Uncle Harlan make it better. Say, did I ever show you my Hugo? I have it in the back room. Why don't we just-
TONI MORRISON (coach) enters, flicks HARLAN on the ear.
You old pervert, leave that girl alone.
What? What? I was just trying to help her out.
Mm hm. Help her out of her dress.
STEVE BAKER (competitor) enters, looking confused.
Hey, what's going on in here? Harlan, are you messing with my girlfriend again? I already told you, man...stay away, you little creep!
HARLAN scampers to the top step of the step stool, takes swings at STEVE. STEVE and HARLAN engage in a slapfight.
Bring it on, motherfucker! I'll take you apart and use the pieces to make an asshole carousel! Did you mother have any kids that survived childbirth? Come back here! Pussy!
Jesus. I can't take this anymore. I need fifteen hundred more words today, and that bitch Shawonda keeps sneaking adjectives into my manuscript while I'm sleeping. Where in the hell did I put my percocets?
Um...did you check Hunter Thompson's corpse? Dead for a decade, and he still managed to sneak into my room twice this week and get into my stash of Valerian root and Chablis.
HUNTER THOMPSON'S CORPSE (coach) sits motionless in the corner. A cigarette burns from the end of the cigarette holder clenched between his blue lips.
You're not worth my time, you two-bit steampunk punk. Where the hell is that guy from PublishAmerica? I feel the need to disembowel someone before dinner. Ooo, and we're having mostaccioli alfredo tonight!
HARLAN rubs hands together, leaves the room.