Open book. Read random selection of reviews, some by other writers, some by other critics, turn page. Think about who you would dedicate your book to, wonder if that makes sense, wonder if any ex-girlfriends should make the cut because, technically, the idea for that one story about eating sushi while high on Ludes came from the night you were with her, eating sushi and high on Ludes. Did the people you would dedicate your book to really help you to produce the work, or did they merely put up with you while you were doing it? In that case, should the barista at Starbucks be there?

Page one, experience stream of jealousy that someone who wrote this drivel even got recognized at all.

Page forty, start to get okay with it.

Page two hundred and fifty-seven, think about putting book down in favor of newer, fresher book; tuck bookmark in, look at the top of the book and try to gauge how much of the book, in fraction form, you’ve read, and how much you’ve got left to read. Go and wash the dishes, go to CVS and buy Swedish Fish, come back home and think about reading, watch HGTV instead.

Think long and hard about how this book isn’t following any of the standard advice you got in your MFA program: Show-don’t-tell, narrative arc, flat characters/round characters, Jesus there are a lot of similes just in that one paragraph.

Finish book, put it in a stack with other books you’ve finished/decided to give away without finishing. Wonder if you should hang onto it in case you get hired as a writing professor somewhere and you need something to decorate your office with. Get real, all of a sudden – for every five you give away, ten more will take its place.


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