Introducing My Ginger-Haired Writing Muse: Louis CK

On my fortieth birthday, I promised myself that I would work on the book I am writing every single day of this year.  Then I made another promise that I wouldn’t take that first promise so seriously that if I missed a day, I’d say nasty things to myself like you failed, asshole!

Together these promises draw me daily to the document currently named “Structural Edits of Novel.”  Riveting right? (Coming to a Costco book table near you in 2014 2015.)  I shouldn’t be counting the days I miss, but I am. Of course, I am because MASOCHIST.  I know you want to know the number so you can (1) judge me for being so lazy and/or (2) judge me for being too intense.  So far, since July 21, 2013, I have missed three days.

And to be clear, “working on my book,” many days has amounted to 10 minutes of editing one paragraph or a single sentence.  But ten minutes counts because it only takes 6 of those suckers to make an hour.

Since I’ve made this commitment, I’ve stumbled upon many things that have helped me soldier on the face of doubts that threaten to outpace my dreams and talent.  I’ve got writer friends supporting me and have plugged into writing communities. I talk about the process in therapy, but I’ve bored my therapy group so thoroughly they are all begging our therapist for stronger drugs so they can tolerate sitting through sessions where I talk about My Book. Most importantly, I show up at the blank page (or the shitty first draft) every day.  And some days, the sight of my words makes me want to drain all the body out of my body and donate it a “real writer.”

But as I slog through this latest round of edits/revisions, nothing has helped me more than finding a muse.  Maybe you know him: Louis CK.

Image credit:

Image credit:


Two weekends ago a friend lent us the first season of Louis CK, and I am hooked like a junkie who just discovered crack.  Suddenly, I can barely live until we watch the next episode.  Each one is insightful, a bit offensive, and compulsively entertaining. It’s possible his show is all the more appealing to me because I haven’t watched TV since June. (Yes, I am being sanctimonious about not watching TV all summer while you were plugged into Breaking Bad, X Factor, and Homeland.  Slap me in your fantasies, because I deserve it.)

But here’s why Louis is my muse: after you watch an episode of his show, you can watch it again with commentary from Louis, which I love more than the episode.  I can’t tell you how many times he says, “Oh, we shot this as whole scene and I just edited it down to the teensy weensy moment during the credits.”  Every time I hear that my whole body springs to attention.  I mean, my mitochondria yells, what the fuck? I have a hard time cutting scenes I’ve written– like that awesome scene where my protagonist goes on a date with a guy who she later learns is gay or the one where she buys a J. Crew coat that isn’t even on sale.  Those scenes suck but it’s been hard not to shoehorn them in the book because I can’t let go.

Listening to Louis, however, I realize how cheap it is to edit writing.  After all, I didn’t have to pay actors and camera operators and obtain permits from NYC to shoot in a public park or rent a school bus.  All I had to do was march some words across a page and then see with my own two eyes that standing in line at the DMV is more fun than reading them.

The cutting room floor is now littered with scenes that just don’t fit, either because they slow my story down or the writing is crap.  Or both.

Now as I watch my pinkie finger make its way to the DELETE button erasing the words that aren’t strong enough to stand up the winds of criticism, I feel brave, like a real artist.  Like Louis CK, except I have vowels in my last name.


39 thoughts on “Introducing My Ginger-Haired Writing Muse: Louis CK

  1. Louis CK is the MASTER. I am obsessed with his show and wish he would put another season out on Netflix. I’m with you in that editing is one of the hardest things; I get overly, needlessly attached to my words, too. Maybe it’s because I talk so fricking much in real life.

  2. I am glad you are still writing. Just three days, huh? Proud of you. I am not there. But it’s ok. I cuss at myself too but then I tell myself to shut the hell up and pass the damn chips already. As for TV, I haven’t watched a regular show since May/June when I finally started watching Scandal on Netflix and then the remainder of the series in real time. Before then I wasn’t watching anything regularly either. None of the ones you listed interested me enough to actually sit down and watch them (I’m being a snob, I know. Don’t care. But. I was sick this past weekend and had plenty of hours to lie around and watch tv. I watched HGTV. Because).

  3. I relate to all the book-writing masochism. I currently have several books I’m working on, because I’m directionless. HOWEVER – I knew nothing of Louis C.K. before. I might need to check him out now…

  4. I obviously relate to loving a show so much that you can barely live without watching the next episode. I think everyone should have that wondrous experience at least once. Also, I’m concerned that there isn’t enough TV in your life. An intervention may be required.

  5. I’m perpetually inspired by your commitment to your writing and the way you show up for it, and it shows in the product. It’s so awesomely cheap to delete scenes, isn’t it? I compare it to painting where when I want to paint over something I do, but then I’m always factoring in time spent on the work, studio rent, cost of paint and canvas, etc., and it can be harder to let go. But even with writing, I can get so attached it’s hard to delete. I think the more time that goes by since something’s creation, the easier that gets.

  6. Haven’t seen his show, but love some of his standup.
    Haven’t visited my Scrivener file more than three days since June.
    Have now added “work on That File every day until New Year’s Eve” to my list of things to do.
    Have also added “do yoga every day” and “run every day” and “practice mindful parenting every day” and “stop eating so much sugar” and “while you’re at it, stop eating bread” and “oh my god how am I going to exercise and write and be nice without bread and sugar” and “get therapist” to my to-do list.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

    • I just wrote a break up scene and it was so real to me that I need to go home and watch Beaches or Thelma and Louise. I may be losing my grip on reality, which wasn’t so strong to begin with.

      Thank you for the love and support, MollyB!

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