“How to Write a Good Book,” by Cole Bellamy

Dec 20th, 2016 | By | Category: Poetry

First take a bath
A long bath.
Sit in the tub with your phone and
Send a text message
To someone you’ve never kissed
But would like to kiss.
Tell them you’re going to write today.

Dry yourself off and pet the cat a while.
If you don’t have a cat
Get one.
You’re a writer now.
You need a cat.
The parasites they carry
Help to kill the fear.

Rub essential oils into your armpits.
And put on something nice.
Wear a cardigan or
If it’s hot out
A thrift shop Hawaiian shirt
With hibiscus flowers on it.

Go down to the coffee shop where
You think there may be some people
Who you would like to kiss.
Order a coffee, and make sure
To let them know that you’re writing today
So they give you the secret special writer’s coffee
That they keep locked up under the counter
In most good coffee shops.

Take a picture of the coffee
Then go outside for a smoke.
Approach a stranger
And tell them not to talk to you
Because you have a lot of writing to do.

Turn on your laptop.
Go up to the counter
To get the WiFi password.
Login to Facebook and tell everyone
Not to bother you
Because you’re writing today.

Open a new Word file.
Look at it for a while.
Type: ‘George was.’
Delete this.
Type: ‘Mister Hoffman sat.’
Delete that too.
Type: ‘It was Spring time in Minsk.’
Delete this as well.
Type: ‘The rain in Brooklyn’
Type: ‘Project Omega’
Delete again.
Type: ‘The fury of Poseidon’
And delete.

Check your Facebook.
Post a famous quote
About how hard it is
To be a writer.

Get another coffee.
Have another smoke.
Pack up your laptop.
Go get some lunch.

Go home and pet the cat some more
Then turn on the TV
And take a nap.
Let the commercials
Mix with your dreams.

Wake up and go to a bar.
Bring a book. Order a beer.
Don’t read the book. Just
Show it to people.
Tell everyone you can that
You’ve been writing all day.
Tell them that your novel is
Almost finished.

If anyone asks what it’s about,
Just say “everything.”

Get nicely drunk and
Talk to people you want to kiss.
Don’t kiss them
Just keep telling them that you are a writer
Try to work it into every sentence you say
And soon they will not be able to control themselves.
They will throw their arms around your neck
Pull you forward and kiss you

Go home and go to sleep.

Repeat this process every day until
You find a manuscript
Growing like a mushroom
Under your kitchen sink.

Don’t touch it and
Don’t tell anyone
It’s there until
A cryptic title, something like
“Josephine’s Hat Pin” or
“The Cannibal’s Step-Child” or
“The Sparrows of September” or
“The Colonel’s Marionette”
Appears on the cover.

Harvest your manuscript
By carefully peeling away the layers
Of mucous and webbing from its cocoon
Let it dry for a day or so
Out on the front porch.

In a spray bottle, combine red wine
And cat piss
In equal parts.
Add a pinch of cinnamon.
Spray this mixture on your
Manuscript twice a day.
This will attract any literary critics
That may be in the area.

Do not approach the critics.
They can be dangerous
And are easily spooked.
Do not try to kiss them.

If a critic approves
And remains unspooked,
They will rub their scent glands
(located just below their tail)
On your manuscript.
This is called Advance Praise

If your manuscript
Gets enough sunlight and Advance Praise
It will begin to molt.
The plain paper cover will peel away
To reveal a picture of
A nightgown or
An insect or the
Silhouette of a famous bridge or
A sad-looking woman or
Just your name and your title
In giant colorful letters.

The back cover should say things like
“Groundbreaking” and

If you follow these steps correctly
Your book will begin to bloom
In bookstores and libraries and
In the hands of beautiful people,
That will lick their fingers
To turn your pages,
And show up at your house
Just to tell you how perfect you are.


Cole Bellamy lives alone with a cat and a synthesizer in Tampa, Florida. He teaches creative writing and English composition at the University of South Florida and Saint Leo University. He also writes, creates strange music, and tries to make fun stuff happen.

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