Eat Pray Love and a Shit-ton of Vodka by Mike McCrary

Mike McCrary
I’m pleased to welcome Mike McCrary back to the site today. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mike on his books Getting Ugly, Remo Went Rogue, and his latest, Genuinely Dangerous, out now. It’s no secret that writing is often a frustrating endeavor. Today, Mike shares the story of how he found himself at a crossroad, facing the decision of whether to keep going or throw in the towel.

Eat Pray Love and a Shit-ton of Vodka

Okay. Fine. It wasn’t EAT PRAY LOVE. It’s written by the same author, Elizabeth Gilbert, and the title is BIG MAGIC, but EAT PRAY LOVE everybody knows so it works better as an eye-grabbing title. It’s all about clicks, dammit, and Elizabeth A. Fucking White didn’t have me on here to not put asses in the seats, so I went with EAT PRAY LOVE in the title. If I have in some way offended you, you should probably stop reading now.

I’ll wait.

We good?

Awesome, glad you stayed.

Look. I’m not advocating anyone to run out and drink a shit-ton of vodka. First, a shit-ton is not a recognized unit of measure and what’s considered a shit-ton to me may or may not be a shit-ton to you and so on and so and on. What I’m about to discuss here is what happened to me.

Keep in mind I’m a professional.

I was frustrated. I was annoyed. Fine, fuck it, I was pissed off. Pissed off about how things were going with screenwriting and me. There were several near misses, minor successes and a couple of major mother fucking disasters all in a row. I was considering quitting the writing thing all together. I was fried, chewed up, spit out and left for dead. I felt I had given writing my best shot and it just wasn’t in the cards for me. I thought the world of writing had passed me by or worse, maybe it was never meant for me in the first place.

During this time I had also written a few short stories, some flash fiction, a novella, and a book. While I loved writing all of them and I’m extremely proud of those works, I still felt like there was this huge bastard sitting on my chest telling me I should just tap out. The bastard would tell me about how it was all too much work, it’s too hard, and how it was stupid for me to keep at it. Why are you doing this to yourself? You’re a smart guy, you can do other things. I had heard this bastard before but I always managed to ignore him through the years. For the first time, I was listening to that bastard and that bastard was making sense.

For the first time in my writing life I was considering giving up.

I’d started writing a new book but was stuck. Really stuck. Stuck because I just didn’t have the heart for the fight anymore. Then a couple of things happened. Fairly random things.

I accidently came across an old file on my laptop that contained a Word doc full of scatterbrained ideas that I had jotted down over the years. Little nuggets of things. Most of them were dumber than hell, but there were two that stuck out. Something about Gene Wilder’s character in Bonnie and Clyde having his own story and then another about a documentary filmmaker with some bank robbers. Two separate ideas on two different pages, but for some reason on that day I decided to jam them together. So I tucked that combo-idea away at the back of the old brainpan and went on with my self-loathing.

My pity party for one.

Then a friend recommended an audio book called BIG MAGIC. Now I’ve never read EAT PRAY LOVE—nothing against it, it’s just not my jam—but I heard great things about Elizabeth Gilbert’s writing and I respected the person that recommended it. I was also looking for something to listen to while I looked like an idiot on a treadmill. Almost every word in that book resonated with me. A lot of it was Liz Gilbert. (I feel like I can call her Liz. Not sure why, I just do. She probably hates people calling her Liz.) Anyway, she has this very charming, calming manner to her. She also had some really clear, important, no bullshit things to say about writing, failure and failing at writing. Things I needed to hear. Things I needed to hear right then and there and I needed to hear them from Liz.

Sorry. Elizabeth.

I also didn’t tell writer friends that I was thinking about giving up, mainly because I knew I would just get the well-intentioned advice of “Hang in there, bro” or “You’ll turn it around. You’re really talented.” All nice things to hear but sometimes you need a neutral third-party to tell you some things.

She can’t be mad about being called Liz, right?

Next thing, Bouchercon in Raleigh, NC was coming up. For those unfamiliar with it, Bouchercon is large conference where readers, writers and those who want to become writers all gather together over a few days to learn about and discuss thrillers, crime, mystery and other genre fiction. It’s also a great place for writers to hang out with fellow writers and drink. I mean drink. Like a lot. For me, this is where the Shit-Ton of Vodka part of the story comes into play. I had already registered for the conference prior to my little mini-depression and I almost didn’t make the trip to NC. Then I determined that if I went one of two things would happen to me.

I would either be inspired to keep writing or — I’d quit.

I was inspired.

I don’t want to get all mushy, but those clowns and misfits of Bouchercon saved me. They’re good people. They’ve let me into their world, their tribe, and I am so, so damn grateful to all of them. Hopefully they know who they are because I’ll never tell them. I’m far too cool for that. Ask anybody.

What came out of all this is a book that was just released called GENUINELY DANGEROUS.

I couldn’t be prouder of this book. It’s fun, funny and filled with more twists and turns than you can count. It’s an insane read and it’s the book I set out to write. It’s the book where I told self-loathing, self-pity, and the void taking up real estate inside of me to all go fuck themselves. Told them to go dig their claws into someone else. I’m done. I’m done with them and that bastard they sent to talk to shit to me, and if they come back — I’m ready. I’m going to be just fine.

I’ve got Liz and a shit-ton of vodka.

I’m not going anywhere.

Mike McCrary is a screenwriter and author. His short fiction has appeared in ThugLit, All Due Respect, Dark Corners, Out of the Gutter, Shotgun Honey and The Big Adios. Mike barely earned an Economics degree, somehow got an MBA, and has been a waiter, securities trader, dishwasher, investment manager, and an unpaid Hollywood intern. He’s quit corporate America, come back, been fired, been promoted, been fired, and currently writes stories about questionable people who make questionable decisions. He lives in Texas. You can catch up with Mike on Twitter.

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