Posted by: theboyfromsmallville | July 27, 2006

Chapter None

I woke up one day and performed my everyday morning ritual: Head for the refrigerator to see whatever leftover food’s there to eat. There was a cup half filled with some Starbucks concoction that was begging me to finish it up. No problem, I told the cup.

I sat down on a wooden chair, one of four that surrounded a wooden table, thumbed off the lid from the paper cup and gulped away.

And then I asked myself: What am I going to do today? Besides work.

Then it dawned on me (Not exactly as quick as it took you to go from the previous sentence to the one that precedes this. It took about a couple of minutes longer).

I’m going to write a book. Simple as that. Boy, that sure got me excited. So this was how it happened for the Stephen Kings of the world. You wake up, the sun shines, the birds sing, the early worm smiles before shrieking as a winged predator dives at it and a voice from the heavens shouts at you: Write a book.

But every idea has a devil’s advocate. Mine came screaming at me faster than my morning drink lost its appeal.

Why the hell write a book? What for?

Being too lazy to plow through the garbage pile that used to be a decent living room for a pen and a paper, I started mentally listing the reasons.

It looked like this in my head:

Reasons to write a book:

1. To become famous. Imagine, my name on a bookstore shelf! What can be cooler than that? Besides, I’m not good looking enough to be on Pinoy Big Brother.

2. To continue the reign of the mediocre. If shitty singers and shitty shows can be famous, why not a shitty book?

3. To get it on with the chicks. I can already imagine my standard pick-up line: Hi, I’m a very famous author. I could make you the heroine of my next book if you would let your clothes join the crumpled sheets of paper on my bedroom floor.

4. To earn money. Then again, considering the decreasing interest in the art of reading, I better scrap this off.

4 (still). To be able to greet friends in the acknowledgement pages. Great marketing ploy, really. For every name I put, that’s one buyer of my book. So I’m thinking, half the number of pages, I would devote to acknowledgements. My family will get just one line. They’re not buying the book individually anyway. It’d just be one for the family library. Though I’m not sure if our clan has a family library.

5. To have something nice said about me during my funeral. Like: “He was a, well… a, uhmmm… Oh! He was an author! He wrote a book.”

Then, I asked myself: What would I write? I could write about my life, but who would care to buy a book about me? I haven’t killed a man, held public office, saved another human being’s life, won the Tour de France or gotten crucified. Nah, that wouldn’t do. I could write about my sexual conquests. Anything loaded with sex sells. The problem is I’d probably have more pages about my right and left hands than I would about actual people. Besides, how many things can you write about your calluses?

And then it hit me. Maybe I can talk about the importance of sleep. Sure, People will buy that. We all love to sleep. I do. I can do it for long hours a day. I once did it for 38 hours straight. No bathroom breaks. I once did it standing up. I once did it sitting on the toilet bowl. I once walked out of a press conference to do it for seven minutes.

I would call it The Importance of Sleep. Direct. Simple. Easily understood.

I tried to recall what I learned during science class about what the importance of sleep really is. I didn’t want to do any research or interviews with experts. I’m doing something as exciting as writing a book, why ruin the fun with such mundane duties?

Here’s how the book will go:

The Importance of Sleep

By (My name here)

Fly leaf

Dedication page (do they call it that?): To my pillows, don’t worry, your cases will be washed in this lifetime.

Table of contents:

Page 1—Acknowledgement

Page 347—Introduction

Page 347—Chapter 1: Sleep to repair the body. This is where all the scientific explanation goes. I’m sure I can think of enough details to fill half a page. Or I could lengthen the introduction.

Page 348—Chapter 2: Sleep for fun. Here’s where my authority stamps its mark in the book. I could go on and on here.

Page 352—Chapter 3: Sleep for peace. If everybody slept, who would have time to make war? Or rob a bank? Or cheat the public?

Page 353—Chapter 4: Sleep to escape from reality. Oooh… Psychobabble shit. I could probably go new age-ish here. That would appeal to the young minds of society.

Page 355—Chapter 5: Conclusion. I can come up with something. I swear.

Page 356—About the author

Page 500—(Hey, if they’re going to talk about the book and about its author, I’d better make sure they get the facts straight). Index.

There you go. 500 pages. Man, this is going to be a hit. Or is it?

Again, the Devil’s Advocate in my mind started rubbing his palms against each other and laughing in that stereotypical devil’s advocate laugh.

Listen, it said, to what the critics will say (Comments in parenthesis are the author’s):

“[My name] doesn’t know shit about the importance of sleep. This is nothing but a pathetic attempt to be famous (at least the motive was right). You know how some books are real page-turners? Well, you read the first page of this one and you want to stop (Not if you know that you’re one of the names in the acknowledgement section). Who even sleeps for peace nowadays? And 144 pages about the author? (I want to get the facts straight, idiots!). This is the worst (at least, it’s still a superlative) form of writing in the history of the world (Obviously, they haven’t watched a Filipino soft porn flick yet)” – Newsweek

“The Importance of Sleep is a book written without any thought process at all (Have you tried recalling the name of every friend you’ve made, asswipe?). After finishing the book, you’d still end up wondering what the importance of sleep really is (At least, they finished the book). What’s supposed to be an intelligent and analytical dissertation on the importance of sleep to the human body has turned into a farcical novel written for no absolute reason but to satiate a deep-seated egotistical desire to become famous (How about that? An honest piece of work. At least no one’s going to blame me for being hypocritical. I did say I wanted to be famous).” –New York Times

“Stupid. Ignorant. You wouldn’t pay a single cent to buy this book (Again, not if I listed you in the acknowledgement pages)” –So and So Book Critics Guild of the Universe

“Don’t believe what this guy wrote in page 433. He did not study in the University of Santo Tomas. He did not attend my creative writing class.” –Ophelia Alcantara-Dimalanta, poet extraordinaire and former dean, UST College of Arts and Letters

“[My name], who?” –Lourd Ernest De Veyra, poet and musician (I placed your name on the acknowledgement pages, damn you!)

Okay. So maybe writing a book about sleep isn’t going to be a success at all. Back to the drawing boards (Who said there was no thought process involved here?)

Why not write something you actually know about. Something work related?

Okay. I’m a journalist covering the sports beat. Maybe I could write about sports. I could write about the greatest basketball games ever played. Or the stories of the sports heroes who inspired a nation. But then, that would entail research on numbers and trivia. That would entail interviewing sports personalities. Too many hassles.

I could write fiction. I mean, how much work do you have to do verifying things you would make up anyway? Then again, that would take creativity. And every dot of creativity in my body you can fit on the dead nail of my little finger of my left hand (Hey, maybe there is something I can write about my hands!).

Let’s go back to step one.

I like to write a book. I plan to write a book. It has to contain something about everything. It must be something I am good at. It must be something people will buy and believe in. It has to be something critics won’t have a field day tearing up. It has to be something I can write sitting down, without having to do menial work and does not need too many doses of creativity. It has to be about something apart from my biography or my sexual (non-)conquests. It has to be something that I am an authority on. Something that very few people will contest (Religious topics are definitely out).

It has to have a little about sleep. About sports. A little bit about me and a little bit about sex (apart and different from each other). There has to be an element of fiction.

I got it! Or, to put it in a scholarly way, Eureka! I’ll write a self-help book. A Purpose-Driven Shit. I’ll call it: How To Live Life Without Really Trying. I’ll cover all the important questions about life and the quest for truth and unity in the universe. I’ll have a thesaurus by my side so I can use deep words that go beyond my usual three-syllable vocabulary.

I’ll include my own nuggets of wisdom and I’ll write it in some profoundly vague way so that people cannot exactly say if I’m right or wrong. Something like:

“Beware of the hurricane, for at the center of its storm, there’s an eye that cannot see.”

Hey, that sounds great!

Without bothering to wash my face and brush my teeth, I whipped out my Apple I-Book (If the book won’t sell, I better include a few advertisements to earn a little on the side) tossed the empty cup of Starbucks (Hah!) concoction to the growing pile in my living room and got ready to start.

But hey, I have all the time in the world. Why rush?

I decided to do the next best thing. I went back to sleep.

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