February 27, 2012

An Open Letter to Myself

Dear Greg (if that is, indeed, your real name),

I, perhaps more than anyone, know about your inability to take advice or criticism from somebody other than yourself. Thus, there is nobody better suited for writing you this open letter than me. Why an open letter? Because I am well aware of your need for external validation. By addressing your shortcomings and character flaws publicly, I greatly increase the chances of you making a concerted effort to be less of a schmuck going forward.

Be warned; this letter will likely be painful for you to read — perhaps even more painful than it has been for me to write. Please don’t think me a masochist. You must know nobody wants you to succeed more than I do. However, you have been going about your life all wrong up to this point, and it’s high time somebody intervened.

First, and most importantly, you simply must stop throwing away all those egg yolks. Just because you prefer the taste of egg whites doesn’t give you the right to waste such a nutrient-dense food item each morning. Find a way to donate your discarded yellows to your local food bank or to an organization that specializes in distributing food to starving nations. If current laws prohibit these entities from accepting discarded yolks, start lobbying to change those laws. Just because you aren’t man enough to ingest a little extra cholesterol and fat doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference in the world.

Secondly, you must find a way to incorporate a vampire, zombie, werewolf and/or wizard into the novel you are currently working on. You failed to do so in your debut book, and look at how meager sales have been. It’s time to let go of your fantasy of being a real writer and instead focus on being a writer of real fantasy. Nobody cares about your piddly little picaresque literary figures with their existential angst and disdain for the modern world. John Kennedy Toole wrote the last great book of that ilk five decades ago, and he ended up killing himself. If you positively insist on continuing your feeble foray into fiction, the least you can do is deliver something inane enough to succeed.

Okay, that takes care of the big issues. Here are a couple of much less critical items you might also want to work on:

You could try being a better father. So what if your 11 year-old daughter lives in a different city; it doesn’t mean you can just phone in your paternal duties. Maybe instead of concentrating so selfishly on your writing “career” and strengthening your core at the gym you could schedule a few more visits each month with your daughter, or, better yet, drop everything on occasion and surprise her with an unscheduled one. And how about trying a little harder to come up with activities that will truly captivate a girl of her age whenever you two are together. I’ll be straight with you — she’s bored to death of Thai food and browsing at Barnes & Noble, as well as with watching Netflix while you prepare your fourth vodka soda of the afternoon. One more thing: Stop patting yourself on the back for having never missed a child support payment. That’s merely the price of admission, not a medal-worthy accomplishment.

You might also think about paying more attention to your wife. She married down, so you owe it to her to pick it up. Start thinking long and hard about how you intend to hold on to such a sharp and stunning younger woman once your body and mind begin to break down. By the way, the breaking down began about two years ago. Yes, you still know how to make her laugh, but no harder than she does while watching Portlandia sketches whenever you’re lying in bed reading Delillo or Pynchon so that you can appear smarter than her and everybody else.

There’s plenty more I could add, but my intention with this letter was not to overwhelm you. Once I see you start to make some progress on the issues I’ve mentioned, I’d be happy to send additional correspondence highlighting how else you might be able to suck significantly less.

Fondly,

Me

P.S. On a more positive note, I’m proud of you for getting off your medication. It’s really helped to make conversations like this one happen. TC mark

Greg Levin

Greg Levin is a professional writer based in Austin, TX. He has been getting paid to put words together since 1994, …