Here’s the continuation of Monday’s post about how to craft an inspirational back story that will garner the sympathy of readers. It tells the saga of my life growing up in a rough neighborhood.
Have An Inspirational Back Story, continued
Allow me to loosen the belt on my story-telling kimono, and let my tale flop out. My own path was filled with class warfare, racial tensions, and social embarrassments. To know why I am the way I am, we must traverse time and space to the 1980’s in New Ulm, Minnesota. It was during this dubious time and place in which my spirit chose to materialize from the ether. And yes, it is the New Ulm you are thinking of. If Las Vegas’s slutty sister gang-banged penal colony era Australia, the half-lit offspring would undoubtedly be New Ulm. A vile, lubed-up, stick-it-anywhere discotheque of a town where police are sometimes forced to send two, and on rare occasions three, firmly-worded overdue notices for parking tickets. Teens wear black t-shirts with logos of rock and roll bands on them. My friend’s older brother once heard about a guy tripping on marijuana just a couple blocks away from my house.
My time there began under less than desirable circumstances. The night of my birth, my parents were at a cocktail party across town, when my Mother went into labor. Making it to the hospital was out of the question – it was time to improvise. The host’s in-house governess was forced to perform the delivery – in this family’s so-called “library.” The first things I saw were paperback copies of Tom Clancy novels. Four years later my first word was “tacky.” This was only the beginning of a childhood marked by fantastic disappointment. On the night of Halloween in 1991, my family was out of town, so we left a bowl full of candy on our porch with a sign that said “Take ONE.” We returned to find the bowl empty. We knew for a fact that there had been 47 fun-size Snickers bars in that bowl. We also knew for a fact that there were only 31 youth of trick-or-treating age in the neighborhood that particular year. Treachery was afoot. We looked at our neighbors differently after that. To this day, we don’t know who robbed us that night. We added second locks on all our doors, and a coded keypad on the garage. The night before I was to begin middle school, my Father looked through his binoculars across the train tracks that separated the good and bad sides of town. He witnessed an interracial couple kissing. Can you imagine? A German boy necking with a Norwegian girl. And that was happening on the good side. Just think of the dimwitted half-breed such a union would produce. I had to grow up in these surroundings. It only got worse from there. After witnessing that depraved scene, my Father said he was going out to buy a pack of cigarettes. I didn’t see him again. Until later that evening. I don’t know what he was really doing in the two hours he was gone. The gas station was just right up the street. I guess the stress of working one job at a pharmaceutical company with strong regional influence coupled with the arguments that he and my Mother were having over what color their new car should be just got to him. Even the most galvanized of men show rust from time to time. In 1997, the year I entered eighth grade, the private school I attended made us start wearing uniforms. Uniforms with navy blue shorts. A blatant fashion disaster. When I was waiting for the bus on the first day of school, a guy in a Camry rolled down his window and called me “fancypants.” I was being talked down to by a guy in a Camry! When I turned 16, my parents refused to by me a car. I had to use their Ford Focus hatchback if I wanted to go anywhere. Every time I drove, I put on a wig, sunglasses, and fake mustache. I knew what I had to do. It was time to leave my hometown and discover what it really was to be me.
Here’s the beginning of Chapter Two of my self-help book about how to write a self-help book. It’s all about how to show your readers why they should listen to what you have to say.
Have An Inspirational Back Story
Now, we come to a crucial point. You must, I repeat must, have a tale of hardship that you overcame in order to impress your readers. This is the fountainhead of “street cred,” a valuable commodity that can mean the difference between a desperate loser buying your book, or that desperate loser moving on to the next chowderhead on the shelf. You can always go with an “urban” anecdote – you were the youngest of five children, you survived a gunshot wound, your step-dad burned your nipples with cigarettes while you were locked in a dog kennel, and so on. If you’ve heard one of those stories, you’ve heard them all. Bo-ring. But, if you absolutely insist on going with a tale like that, embellish it. You are now the youngest of ten children, and on your sixth birthday, your parents traded the two-room shack your whole family lived in for a jug of moonshine that was brewed in a prison toilet. Lonely housewives (a demographic we will discuss later in the marketing section – those plagued by existential ennui, with nothing but time and hubby’s cash on their hands) eat that stuff up. It’s lazy, but it works.
However, if you tread down that route, at some point people are going to tire of you talking about your burnt, deformed nipples. Janet Jackson has the heavy market share in that department already. Instead, try to focus on the scars that people can’t see. Topics that people can relate to. Most of us didn’t “grow up in the projects” or “bang with the Vice Lords” — achievements that are perpetually set on a high pedestal in the “street cred” community. I don’t know anyone who has watched their cousin bleed to death on a bus stop bench, and then fought off the crackheads that swarmed in to field-strip the dead body. We can thank Hollywood for perpetuating these disgusting stereotypes of inner-city hardship. I’m willing to bet that if we were to travel to Compton right now, we would witness nothing more than a roving squadron of West Side Story-esque nancy-boys, prancing about, dance-fighting each other. And this is where “tough guys” come from? I don’t know if I should cry or fart.
Psychological conflict trumps physical pain any day of the week. Example – childbirth is said to be the worst earthly torment there is. Look at how many mothers are out there. They’re a dime a dozen. Would you buy a book written by a mother, just because she endured the agony of labor for what, like 16 hours? Of course not. True pain is everlasting. The greatest artists always have a hidden, deeply-rooted internal suffering that manifests itself in the form of a song, painting, or book. Kurt Cobain didn’t write a little ditty called “I Hate Myself And Want To Die” because his crotch hurt from pooping out a kid.
Tell your readers about your “invisible” scars. If you don’t, you can’t maintain the image of a brooding, deeply-pained martyr who wants nothing more than to keep others from experiencing the tragedy of becoming a brooding, deeply-pained martyr. Psychological suffering is, and always will be, totally hot to those lonely housewives we talked about earlier. Let them know what molded you. Maybe your trust fund turned out to be smaller than you thought. Maybe your skeezy older brother wrested control of your family’s privy purse while you were away on holiday in the Caribbean. Maybe you walked in on your yachting instructor having violent sex with your squash coach when you were just an impressionable youth of 12, and now you can’t get aroused unless your partner is spanking you with a racquet and ordering you to mind the starboard aft. Maybe you were forced to use a second-class Finnish masseuse (the Finns are vastly inferior to Swedes when it comes to massage) during that one year your father had to slash the family budget when his oil rig in the Alaskan wilderness was overrun by hippie squatters. These are the disappointments and embarrassments that leave entrenchments in the psyche. They also leave entrenchments in the bank accounts of clueless losers who can’t get enough of the drama. How do I know all of this? I lived the mythical character-shaping existence of which I speak. Traumas, dramas, baby mamas – it’s all here.
Part Two of Chapter Two will be up on Wesnesday.
Here are the previous entries:
This Blog is two years old today.
Introduction – How I Became An A.S.S. C.L.O.W.N.
Good Influention: The new paradigm which society and culture as a whole can and should be living by in these trying times.
What exactly is Good Influention, and how did I achieve it? Listen – when influence, confluence, and intentions come together and are at the same time good, the product you have in front of you is Good Influention. How do you reach this state of inner sanctity? It is a long road of self-discovery, sacrifice, and transgenderal foundations of self-confidence. Sounds tough, doesn’t it? What would you say if I told you that you can do it all on your own, and in the process, also teach others? And what if I also told you that it comes at no monetary cost? (I would like to take this opportunity to point out that there is one monetary cost, that being the cost of this book, but look at that small nominal fee as an investment, a superfluous expenditure on your launch into the fountainhead of self-help tutelage.)
It is my sole purpose in this book to show you how I achieved the Good Influention mindset all by myself. For what would self-help be if others were there to show you a path, when it is much more enriching to blaze your own trail through the thicket of this jungle that we call life? Come, let me show you how I arrived at the pedestal on which I now sit – a towering vantage point from which I can face all the problems of this early 21st century with the ease and comfort of a seasoned professional.
I attribute much of the Good Influention mindset to the training I have had the pleasure of partaking in. During the course of study and research for the preparation of this book, I skimmed through eight different self-help books, thought about attending some success seminars, and briefly browsed through a list of recommended motivational tapes and videos.
After going through that meat-grinder, I now consider myself an Authority on Self-Sufficiency. I would also like to inform you that, for the sake of brevity, I will employ the use of acronyms throughout this book in order to save time and ink. So, after becoming an A.S.S., I perceived that the only natural extension of that title would be to continue my exploration of the world of self-help. I set sail on a journey to seek out others who have also helped themselves to the spoils of success in many fields, including, but not limited to, life-coaches, financial gurus, weight-loss experts, and so on. Eventually surpassing them in knowledge and credentials, I felt that I had now taken control of my own personal vessel of destiny, becoming a “Captain,” if you will. Thus, I branded myself a Captain of Life, Opportunity, Wealth, and Nourishment (C.L.O.W.N.). Sitting here writing this introduction, I can’t even begin to tell you how good it feels to be an A.S.S., as well as a C.L.O.W.N. So much hard work and perseverance were put into the effort of becoming an A.S.S. C.L.O.W.N. that I wanted to share with the world what it means to me. It becomes more and more rewarding each and every day. I am truly blessed.
Here’s part three of the self-help book about how to write a self-help book that I’m writing. After the cover and blurbs, you’ve got to be smart and take into account the legal ramifications of what you say about the people around you. Too many talented self-help authors are reduced to rubble by lawsuits after their loser friends get jealous of their success and try to get in in that sweet action.
Chapter .25 – Disclaimer
Throughout this book, I will occasionally reference people I know. To protect their identity, I have changed their names. But not all of them. By using this technique, you, the reader, will be none the wiser as to which names have been changed and those that haven’t. For example, later on in the chapter about relationships, I briefly mention what a depraved harlot LaShandrell is. Now, you will have no way of knowing whether this woman’s name actually is LaShandrell*. This plan of mine works on many levels. Maybe some guy named Bill that I refer to in an upcoming chapter actually is named Bill, but because I’m telling you right now that the names might have been changed, you’ll think that his name isn’t really Bill, because it sounds generic and fake. And this way, if there is a person I know named Bill (which there is) that ends up reading this book, he won’t think I’m talking about him, because in real life Bill and I are distant acquaintances at best, so why would I bother talking about him when I have so many other better, closer friends? But there is that outside chance that I am talking about him, because I said that some names have been changed and some haven’t. He’ll think that it’s just a coincidence that I used his name and that I’m talking about someone who isn’t him. But if he sees this part he might realize that I actually am talking about him, while it’s still possible that I’m not. After reading this section, Bill will be extremely self-conscious as to whether the Bill I’m talking about is in fact him or not, which it kind of isn’t. Either way, Bill will learn something – if I criticize him, he can learn from his faults. If I praise him, he can take pride in knowing that he is a gleaming figurehead of virtuous character traits.
*Note to LaShandrell – if you’re reading this, I’m actually not talking about you. I love you. There are only so many names out there, so I picked one at random, and LaShandrell came to be the fake name for Sharon**, who is just a dirty, dirty streetwalker.
**Note to Sharon – the Sharon I talk about is a name I made up for that one broad you got in a fight with at the club back in ’03. I couldn’t remember what her real name was so I used Sharon.
After the cover of any successful book, we always turn that cover over to find the first few pages occupied by blurbs about how great the book is. Under ideal conditions, these are written by someone at a respectable publication, a notable expert, or a celebrity. I have access to none of those, so I wrote them myself.
Praise for Help Yourself
“When all is said and done, you could probably get by without reading this book. That is, if you’re a homosexual (not that there’s anything wrong with that). So go ahead, put the book down, homo.” -Michael Cedarwood
“When Cedarwood writes, people read. 10/10. I clapped nine times. Eight million copies will be sold. Seven chapters full of sheer genius. You should read this book at least six times. Five years from now, it will still be a classic. Four stars. Three. Two thumbs way up. Number One. You are a zero if you don’t read this book.” -Michael Cedarwood
“I had no clue that writing a self-help book could actually help me write a self-help book. I highly recommend it.” -Michael Cedarwood
“Vintage Cedarwood.” -Michael Cedarwood
“Literally everyone who reads this book will write a best-selling book.” -Michael Cedarwood
“A great bathroom book. Keep it near your toilet, to be referenced when there is no definite timeframe for exit. Defecation will no longer be a painful, shame-filled experience. This book makes pooping fun again.” -Michael Cedarwood
“In lesser hands, this book would have sucked. An astonishing debut.” -Michael Cedarwood
“This book hasn’t really improved my life – I’m still really poor and stuck in a dead-end job. But remember, I haven’t read the book, I just wrote it. Imagine the boundless possibilities if I did read it.” -Michael Cedarwood
“Cedarwood feasts upon the wisdom of centuries past, digests it, and excretes it in a manner that is edible for those who have higher aspirations than just reading a book. He helps them write it.” -Michael Cedarwood
“I would give a copy of this book to every single one of my friends and family as a gift this holiday season, but I hate them all too much to want to see them succeed in life.” -Michael Cedarwood
“I wish I could travel back in time and kick Cedarwood in the dick for not writing this book earlier.” -Michael Cedarwood
“Allow me to give you a glimpse as to what Cedarwood has to offer. Values. Convictions. Fundamentals. Convinced?” -Michael Cedarwood
“Synergy. Lasting Results. Conquering Challenges. Still not satisfied?” -Michael Cedarwood
“Patterns of Success. Management Parables. Ambition. If that doesn’t get you off, I don’t know what will.” -Michael Cedarwood
“Influention. Conversationalistic understandment. Inventional Achievement. I think I’ve got your attention now.” -Michael Cedarwood
“And just to be sure, principles, paradigms, and penmanship. Booya.” -Michael Cedarwood
I don’t like working at jobs anymore, so I’m going to get rich by writing a massively popular self-help book. It’s being written under my pen (and porn) name, Michael Cedarwood, because that moniker exudes the raw sexuality and heavy intellect needed to help myself help other people help themselves write a self-help book. I’ll post a few updates in the next week to show you what I’ve got so far. It all begins with the cover, which you should judge this book by.