Guest Post by Aaron Michael Ritchey: The Horror of the B+ and the Terror of the Pretty Good

What’s good, peeps? Today I have something super dooper special–a little somethin’ somethin’ from my dude Aaron Michael Ritchey, author of The Never Prayer. Check it out, and make sure to give his book a gander.

Scott J. Clemons.  Yes.  That is his name.  However, it might be my name, too.  What’s the old song?  John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt?  I’ll stop now.  If you know the song, you are already singing it in your head, which is a sign of madness.

Scott and I hit it off because we just might be the same person.  When he offered me a chance to guest blog, I thought it would be kind of redundant.  But then we talked on the phone for an hour, and I had a flash of what I could write about.  And here I am.

I’m a complicated man.  Like Shaft, no one understands me but my woman.  And even she might be jivin’ me.

When I get done writing, I am either the most brilliant author to ever string words together, or I am a hack who should be muted and stuck in a hole.  I am either on top of the pile of writers, lording over them, or struggling underneath, looking for more mud to eat.

My wife videotaped me saying I was a good writer.  She had to.  Because when I’m in the dumps, I truly don’t remember anything good I’ve ever written, and it drives her insane.  John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt madness.  It’s a diagnosis in the DSM V.  I’m a child of a psychotherapist.  I know.

Talking with Scott, he said something similar, but I won’t out his crazy.  I’m here to talk about my own.  Yes, there are times I have wanted to throw in the towel, leave writing forever, and do something constructive with my time, like watch more baseball, or rescue puppies from burning buildings.

Because again, I’m either the best or the worst.  I should either quit my job and write full time, or I should never write again and look into a career as a puppy rescuer.

The truth is, I’m pretty good.  Not great, but definitely not in the “I should be killed for writing” camp.  Pretty good.  Which is a hard place to be for me.  In school, I either wanted an A+, or I wanted an F-.  When I got a B+, I would rage.  B+!  What the hell is a B+ good for?  Absolutely nothin’, say it again.

I’m a good enough writer to be published.  My debut novel, The Never Prayer, was shoved out into the world on March 29, 2012.  And you would think my stupid head would be satisfied.  But here is the lesson I’m learning—my stupid head will never be satisfied.

My mind is a tool.  It can help me plot my stories, it can create wacky characters, it can help me with the craft of writing, but it can’t help me with meaning.

Call it spirit, call it soul, call it what you want, but there is another part of me, not my mind, that knows the truth.  How I stack up in the grand pile of authors doesn’t much matter in the end.  I need to embrace the books I write, love them, and sing my songs to the world.  Yes, my voice might crack.  Yes, the Simon Cowell’s of the world might criticize me, but when I write, I am taking part in the sacred art of storytelling.  That transcends the stupid extremes of my thought-life.  It transcends me.  As it should.

Henry Miller said that the only reward for writing is writing.  If I’m good, I should write.  If I’m bad, I should write.  If I’m pretty good, I should write.  If I have a story to tell, I should write, no matter what.

And if you read my book, The Never Prayer, and give me a B+, well, logically speaking, that’s better than a C.  And if I touched you at all with my story?  That’s better than any grade ever.

Thanks, Scott, for letting me invade your blog.  Have you seen the other sock we wore last Saturday night?  I can’t tell if it’s in Colorado or Tacoma.  Or someplace in between.

For more about me and The Never Prayer, you can visit us both at www.aaronmritchey.com.  And of course, I’m on Facebook, as is the book at http://www.facebook.com/TheNeverPrayer.  And I tweet – @aaronmritchey.   If you are at all curious about the novel, our friends at Amazon.com would love for you to visit them!

If you are a try before you buy type of cat, hit me here for an excerpt: http://crescentmoonpress.com/books/TheNeverPrayer.html

Aaron Michael Ritchey

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8 thoughts on “Guest Post by Aaron Michael Ritchey: The Horror of the B+ and the Terror of the Pretty Good

  1. Well, I’m not a dude, but I can so relate to the philosophy. Being the eternal overachiever, I’m never satisfied with anything less than the A+++; yeah bonus points – gotta have all of them. Those moments of brilliantness should be recorded – thanks for that idea – because when the hours of medicrity linger on – we forget, and slide down the slope to the waiting pit at the bottom!

    • Ah, Ellie, we are all dudes in the eyes of the lord. Just kidding. Thanks so much for the comment. Bonus points. I keep wanting bonus points in the writing game, but not sure there are any to be had. No, wait, meeting people like you and Scott and Jeanne and Andrew below, those are the bonus points. Yes, record the moments of brilliance to remind yourself of the feelings. And be your own biggest fan!

      • Well that does seem logical – I am my own worst critic after all. Itwould do well to be my biggest fan! I am after all brilliant, insanely humorous, and I do have a certain sagacious wit that either leaveds my audience rolling , holding their sides, or sctaching thier heads in wonderment. Yes, all about the bonus points! I am NOT a dude – dudette maybe, LOL!
        BTW – On your blog – my husband’s main comment was – needs more Black Widow.

  2. Hey Aaron– you said: When I get done writing, I am either the most brilliant author to ever string words together, or I am a hack who should be muted and stuck in a hole. I am either on top of the pile of writers, lording over them, or struggling underneath, looking for more mud to eat.

    You’ve just described what every author I know has felt at the end of a project. We just don’t always say it out loud. You are an A+ writer, my friend.

  3. That’s a great way to put it, Aaron — I like that. I’ve seen so much of your greatness, and I’ve heard you have done some mud-eating, too. It’s nice to know you can just keep moving on, sharing all of it with some storytelling.

  4. Reading this, I’m reminded of that John Lennon quote:

    “Part of me suspects that I’m a loser, and the other part of me thinks I’m God Almighty.”

    My problem is that most times, too much of me suspects that I’m the loser. It’s so comforting to know that other writers grapple with similar doubts.

    Congratulations on the novel!

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