An Author Outsmarts His Editor


I ain’t much of no writer, see, so you done best bear with me as I write down the wild things that happened to make me — a farmhand with no more education than a common crow — wind up governor of Missouri. I’ll do my best to tell my tale here on these pages, but know that I never did make it to the end of one of them books the folks in the cities read. I done did use ’em as doorstops and fire-starters and once clocked a thief in the nose with one so good he left a trail ‘a blood all the way to the hospital. But read one? Never did. Therefore, this here tale may be full ‘a what city-folk call typos and grammatical mistakes in addition to broader narrative issues. Critics writing in the Gazette and Herald-Times and various websites — assuming that word I just done did invented becomes a platform for book reviews hundreds of years after my story takes place — may accuse my writing of lacking coherent structure, having a series of repetitive scenes, and featuring flat characters without satisfying arcs. But as I clearly mentioned before, I ain’t never did done read no big-ol’ book, and therefore the sloppy, unpolished state of this novel is a historically valid symptom of my standing in society here as a poor farmhand in 1840. To put effort into editing what some may call an unfocused first draft in need of substantial cuts and changes would betray the truth of my character. See, I’m a very stupid man and if you say my book is stupid then you have correctly analyzed it. Because of who I am, that’s not a criticism, it’s a positive review highlighting the accuracy of my portrayal. As I set out to write my story, I ask that Tom Fairbanks — the name you see on the cover of this here novel — not change a single word, chapter, or sequence after he finds this collection of papers buried in the woods outside Jefferson City about two hundred years from now, when I am writing this. Tom Fairbanks, of course, will be a brilliant writer capable of crafting his own rich, layered, profound, and coherent novels that do not contain glaring errors that confuse readers and take them out of the story. On this one, though, he is merely a shepherd guiding my papers to the publisher. If anyone tells him to edit any of this work, you are betraying me and my authenticity as a moron from the 1840s.

All that did done said, I’ll do my best to start this tale with whatever comes to mind, then continue to make things up as I go and never backtrack to fix any plot holes or jarring continuity issues. Because, again, consider the man writing this and how stupid he was. Or is. Sorry. Yes, is. Alive now, writing this.

So, from the top. The tale begins when I ate all them bitter berries in the woods, which made my brain go foggy and I lost the ability to craft what I imagine a 21st century book editor would call a “publishable manuscript.”