The Stupid 365 Project, Day 74: Taking the Fifth

December 15th, 2010

Taking Stock.

Yesterday, as Gary was kind enough to let me know, marked the one-fifth point in this enterprise.  It strikes me that this would be a good time to take stock, especially since I can’t think of anything else to write about.

Let’s look at it from the Sergio Leone scale of evaluating all of creation:  the good, the bad, and the ugly


You guys (you know who you are) have continued to show up and comment, even when I was really scraping the sides of the Tub of Silliness.  I’ve appreciated it enormously.

I haven’t missed a day yet.  This causes me no small amount of amazement, given the number of times I sat down with nothing in mind but an unfocused panic.

The fact that a piece always emerged from that unfocused panic is something I need to remember in my other writing.  I’m not sure whether anyone has said this before, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.  Even when I absolutely know that what’s going to emerge will be unshapely, unsightly, and uninteresting, I have to try anyway.  if what I wind up with is mayonnaise — well, maybe I can freeze it and sculpt it into something.  A swan.  Put a few crackers and some grapes around it and make it look intentional.

I’ve now written (to take an average of 400 words per piece) around 30,000 words, right here on your computer screen.  Part of me says, “Wouldn’t it be nice if those were in a book?” and part of me knows that they’ve led me to a whole new work ethic: blog, edit book, write book, do odd jobs — for example, redoing this entire web site, which STILL doesn’t have The Queen of Patpong on it.

You’ve all made me laugh dozens of times.  Some of you have made me get momentarily teary.  (Only momentarily; I’m not a Kleenex Guy.)  Robb emerged from the depths of time with these hand-colored home movies of my misspent youth, which have fascinated me.

As a result of the new work ethic alluded to above, I’m (a) about to bring Madison and Simeon together; (b) most of the way through integrating Everett’s catches into Little Elvises; (c) working with Allen on the cover for Incinerator; devoting a certain amount of time each day to desultory promotional activities for Crashed; revising the site; making notes for the fifth Poke book; making notes for the third Junior book; and working on a time-devouring Unknown Project, which I can’t talk about yet.


Some of what I’ve inflicted on you was so devoid of value as to qualify as anti-matter.  I will NOT ask you to name the worst post, because your nominations would destroy my newly created confidence and reveal it as foolhardiness.

I will eventually drive some of you away with cosmology.

We haven’t seen the hoped-for incremental growth in readership, or at least respondership.  The overall numbers for the site are up, but this specific effort isn’t going to get me on Oprah or turn me into the next James Patterson.  (I never expected it to, but you know . . . )

Still fighting to get one more comma into my net worth.


Dick Cheney, forever and ever, amen.

Simon Cowell, ditto.

The fact that all sentences still have to be written one word at a time.  You’d think, some sixteen novels and approximately 1.6 million words in, I’d have worked out macros or something to create entire clusters of words with a single keystroke.  But no, and consequently, I have permanent carpal tunnel ouchness in my right thumb, which I use to hit the space bar.


Suggestions?  More of anything?  Less of anything?  Any wishes?  Anything you would like to place on the Abjured List?

19 Responses to “The Stupid 365 Project, Day 74: Taking the Fifth”

  1. Suzanna Says:


    HUGE congratulations on the 1/5 marker!

    Learn something everyday here. For instance, I didn’t know, or had never heard of the word abjured.

    Now that I know what it means, no, I don’t have a thing to put on that list.

    Everything you have written on this blog is fascinating, or funny, or sometimes both, and way before the Stupid Project started I had become used to expecting nothing less.

    I can’t think of a single reason that my input would help you figure out what to write about on a day to day basis since you are doing so well on your own. Stellar in fact.

    It has been my great pleasure to spend time reading your blog, the responses, and your responses back. A lot of fun, in fact.

    I truly appreciate the great effort that it takes to integrate this project into your already very busy life.

    Can’t wait to hear what happens with the Project-That-Shall-Remain-Nameless-For-Now. Until then I am imagining wonderful news streaming across this blog one day.


  2. EverettK Says:


    You’ve quickly gone from non-existence (in my awareness) to one of my top dozen favorite authors (and no, I won’t give you a specific number, and no, I won’t bore the follogers (followers of blogs should have their own name, shouldn’t they?) with my full list of favorite authors). And I haven’t even read all of your published books yet!

    I’m sure, if I went back and searched the blog since October 1, I could come up with one or two candidates for the “worst day,” but I can’t remember them off-hand. All in all, I’ve found this daily blogging of yours to be fun, entertaining, educational, and an introduction to some really neat people!


    You’ve had to put up with me and my HTML tutorials.


    Good luck getting rid of me any time soon! BWWWWWAAAAAAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

  3. barbara macdonald Says:

    I don’t comment every day but i do stop by and have a quick read – meanwhile my dorothyl digests are piling up unread, so that says something, although what i’m not sure…..

    don’t need pearls of wisdom constantly, just need something thought provoking now and again and amusing always a good thing….

    Tim, stop obsessing about the merits of your posts, what is a pearl to one is an oyster to another, stupid analogy but you get my drift….otherwise we’ll all have to start obsessing about our comments ‘omg was i witty enough, omg was i wise enough, omg was that deeply profound enough?????’ 😎


  4. Phil Hanson Says:

    Tim, if you want to be the next James Patterson, you’ll have to enlist the services of at least a half-dozen relatively unknown writers to do the heavy lifting.

    To add another comma to your net worth, just tack it on at the end; you can fill in the numbers later.

    Are you a glutton for self-inflicted pain and abuse? Switch hands, man, switch hands.

    If you need raw material for your mayo sculpture, I have a slightly used (only used once) jar of Best Foods cholesterol-free canola mayonnaise in my refrigerator that I’m more than willing to donate to the cause.

    Nothing for the Abjured List, nothing to refudiate (crap! Sarah Palin ignorantly coins a new word and now it’s part of the mainstream vernacular). Don’t start rearranging the furniture now, Tim, ’cause whatever you’re doing seems to be working for you. Seems to be working for me, too.

  5. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Thanks to all for the niceness.

    Suzie, SOME of the stuff I’ve written is neither funny nor fascinating (I noted a definite fall-off on “Disposable Razors, Part Two”) but thanks for overlooking those posts.

    Everett, you are one of the great discoveries of the year, and I’m not even quite sure how it happened — but I’m grateful that it did. And you’re right, this blog draws a very nice crowd.

    Barbara, it’s hard not to agonize once in a while, considering that as a novelist I can barely be coaxed with dynamite to let a book out of my hands – – there’s always something to fix, some sentence that can be better, some chapter that falls flat. Whereas with these pieces, the only way in the world to keep up is to just crank them out and set them afloat, like a paper boat, and hope they don’t sink under their own weight. (Meta-metaphor. No more coffee.)

    Boy, if I’m taking precedence over Dorothy L digests, I truly feel honored. The only time I ever miss one is when a book has me by the throat and I know I’ll miss yards of good material if I put it down even for a moment.

    Phil!!! You want to write my next book? I promise to mention you often, under my breath, in interviews and to see that your name is in type no less than four points on the dust jacket. It’ll be on the inside of the dust jacket, but it’ll be there.

    That’s totally unfair of me. Patterson fully acknowledges his collaborators, he really does think up the basic plot outlines for every book, and he’s a really, really nice man. He can’t help it that he can think up five times as many best-sellers as he can possibly write.

    I am going to voluntarily abjure Sarah Palin from this blog. At least, until I can think of something new to say.

  6. Gary Says:

    Well, if you’ve finally given me a little credit for noting the milestone, I suppose I’ll have to say congratulations. I suppose.

    As for which was the worst post – well, don’t start me…

    No, but seriously: SO glad it’s doing good things for your writing, Tim. Hang in there!

  7. Mae Mougin Says:

    Day 15- A good day to join the gang and add another old friend who always read pages and pages of your words, so best to start today while I can still join in.
    A book of a year of blogs, how much would that weigh? You could publish a large size Helmut Newton type that comes with it’s own stand.
    You could twist and shout about Super Mob as you suggested a great book to read. Los Angeles will never be the same thanks to you!
    Keep going you have 350 days left-instead of the blog being ” A Day in Life”…it will be a year in the life of our Tim…looking forward to the daily joy of y the letters that become words, that become stories of entertainment and mystery as to what you have to say each day. Mae xo

  8. EverettK Says:

    Tim said: Everett, you are one of the great discoveries of the year, and I’m not even quite sure how it happened — but I’m grateful that it did.

    No, no, ’tis the other way around!

    You can thank Amazon for my presence. You see, they sent out this email ad for “books I might like” (the usual Amazon marketing), which I USUALLY just ignore. I must have had some spare time that day, as I scanned down the list of 10 books, and at about 7 or 8 was “The Queen of Patpong” (a title that caught my eye for some reason). I read the one or two line synopsis which intrigued me further, and followed the link to Amazon and read more about the book, and became VERY interested. Upon realizing that it was part of a series, I decided I wanted to start at the beginning, looked up the Kindle editions… and hit a brick wall. ALL of them, even the oldest, was $12 for an ebook, even a 4-5 year old book.

    Now, I don’t begrudge YOU your due monies for your works, but I’ve been royally pissed at the games the publishers have been playing this past year with the ebook market. I composed an email to the publisher (knowing it would do no good, but if enough sand gets thrown in their eyes…) complaining about the pricing, and stating that I wouldn’t buy older books at that price, blah-blah-blah. I happened upon your website via Wikipedia and thus found your email address, and cc’d you on the email (figuring that if authors hear from enough disgruntled readers that they might also disgrunt at their publishers).

    You wrote back a very nice reply, explaining what I already knew (the realities of most author’s lack of any real power in the “old publishing establishment”), and also pointing out that you’d just released the first two Simeon Grist books on Amazon at $2.99 each. That sounded QUITE reasonable to me, and I thought, “Why not?” They’re not the books I was originally interested in, but worth a try.

    You’d been so nice that, as I started noticing typos in those books, I started writing them down, and emailed them to you when I’d finished each book.

    The rest, as someone said, is herstory.

    I still haven’t read the Poke books, the ones I was originally interested in, but soon, even if I have to go back to dead-tree format to do it. After all, I’ve almost exhausted all of your other published (and some UNpublished) works! 🙂

    That’s why I keep sampling a wide range of authors that I wouldn’t normally read: most of them don’t really pay off, but every once in a while, I hit the mother-lode…

    And that’s enough of that. Sheesh, this is almost as long as a blog post! 🙁

  9. Debbi Says:

    I am so impressed you’ve made it this far. But please do not become James Patterson. You’re an author, not a franchise.

    Just keep putting those Kindle titles up. You’ll get that extra comma soon. 😉

  10. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    Most of all, because this is fun for us, I hope it really does help your writing, and all your projects. This is a hang over from yesterday, but I also love these old movies. Thanks to TCM, I’ve seen many of those films (the ones they didn’t “colorize”), and you just taught me something. I was the lighting that made those movies shine, and the actresses so luminous. Avatar is a different breed of cat, but not as moving. My opinion, of course. Now I will watch differently.

  11. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    I BEG your pardon, Gary. You apparently didn’t notice my response to Everett on yesterday’s post — the lines that ran, “Gary told me the anniversary was coming up, and it’s shameful that I didn’t credit him. But I’m not going to.”

    On reflection, perhaps I shouldn’t have added the second sentence. But still, my heart was in the right place. I mean, if it hadn’t been, I’d be dead. And thanks for the good wishes. Jeez, you’re as temperamental as I am.

    Hi, Mae, and thanks for coming by. I do feel compelled to point out, though, that it’s day seventy-three or something like that, and if I had 350 days to go I’d be sawing at my wrists. The very words, when I read them, went through my circulatory system like ice water. As I figure it, I’ve got 292 days to go, not that the number isn’t daunting, but it’s less daunting than 350. Gasp, gasp.

    And I’s so glad you’re liking Super Mob — it changes the way you see practically everything about California. And Korshak is fictionalized (very fictionalized) in the next Junior, Little Elvises.

    Everett, I remember all of that. But you still took me completely by surprise when you wrote me after reading the first of the Simeons to point out 294,536 things wrong with it. On the other hand, I got to make my e-book producer, Kimberly Hitchens, completely crazy by passing the note on to her. In the seasonal spirit, Ho Ho Ho. And you’ve been an amazing friend and ally ever since.

    I have to wrap it up here — I’ve been working for about three hours on the December newsletter and it’s awful, and it’s 10:40 PM, meaning I sat down at this keyboard more than twelve hours ago. Will answer everyone tomorrow. Good night, and good luck, everyone.

  12. Gary Says:

    Of course I noticed it. That was the reason for my post – astonishment.

  13. fairyhedgehog Says:

    The Bad: Just because I don’t comment doesn’t mean I wasn’t interested in the post. It just means I have even less than usual to say! (I can’t be the only one who enjoys reading without always commenting.)

  14. EverettK Says:

    Tim said: …you wrote me after reading the first of the Simeons to point out 294,536 things wrong with it.

    Sheesh. Now I know why you’re so good at writing fiction. It was 100, maybe 150 tops. The story just keeps growing in the telling, every time you mention it. At this rate, by some time next year, people are going to start doubting your veracity.

    But keep writing, keep writing…

    (And take a break now and then. You can only pull 12-hour days for so long, and we do NOT want you burning out!)

  15. Gary Says:

    In fact, I not only noticed your failure to credit, I responded to it. But you were so busy BWA-HA-HAing my bold mistake that you didn’t bother to actually read the post.

    Everett, ain’t that the problem with today’s media people? They take style over substance every time.

  16. Laren Bright Says:

    Regarding the mayo sculpture, in the Alice’s Restaurant cookbook (I think that’s the one) she says, if you’re having a dinner party and you mess something up, don’t ever tell anyone it’s messed up. Tell your guests it’s a fabulous new technique. She says no one will know and they will likely enjoy it.

    I might add that your blogs are at the least interesting and reach into fascinating more frequently than you give yourself credit for. So far I haven’t read one where I asked myself why I was wasting my time with this. (Even disposable razors 2.)

    Challenging yourself to be better is fine. Beating yourself up with a baseball bat because you don’t meet some arbitrary standard you’ve set is… less than useful.

  17. Suzanna Says:

    I know I can appear to be over the top with my praise for you, but let me assure you it’s not just ’cause I’ve known you since I was knee high to a dandelion. You are pretty special, so just deal with it Mr. T. I means what’s I means, and dat’s dat.

  18. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    I’m back, rested and mean as a snake.

    Everett, I’m sending you the four Pokes, but not until after Xmas. Went to the Post Office today and couldn’t even park, so I just turned around and came home. But after the visions of sugarplums have finally receded for another year, keep your eyes open.

    FHH, comment or not, I’m just glad you keep coming back. Thanks.

    Gary, why is it that you and Everett have a tag team going and I’m all alone in my corner of the ring? I mean, I have my cape and my chupacubra mask, and they’re pretty cool, but I see the two of you over there, giggling and elbowing each other, and I feel . . . lonely. Guess I’ll have to break someone’s back and then make friends with the survivor.

    Everett (again) Fiction is the art of taking nothing and exaggerating it into something.

    Hi, Laren, and thanks for the tip. I always remember Julia Child dropping the turkey on the floor on live TV and picking it up, dusting it off, and saying, “They’ll never know.” And I appreciate the praise because you’re a discerning reader and also a funny one. I’m not so much beating myself up as I am goading myself toward higher standards.

    Sooz, dat is indeedie dat. No mo to say. Whuff!

  19. EverettK Says:

    No need to break anyone’s back, Tim. Just trying to keep up with all of your writing (blogs, books, etc) is back-breaking enough! (But it’s a pain that I’ll gladly suffer…)

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