I can’t write what I wanted to write.

Dear James Franco:

I want to know how you manage to star in films, direct films, write stories, and attend several universities simultaneously. A lot of people do. It’s a cliché debate by now. But let me ask: Is it drugs? A special form of methamphetamine that’s only accessible to cultural icons? Have you somehow discovered a way to manifest quantum superposition and wave/particle-duality at a full-body level? Is it a combination of drugs and physics? For instance, if I take ten Adderall pills, will the electrical impulses in my brain fire faster than the speed of light, thus bestowing upon me the ability to transcend time and space? Or will my heart explode? Will my dead body, still tweaking on speed, continue to shake and twitch and convulse for years? Will they bury me despite the clamor? Will my thumping appendages find a steady rhythm? Will it be faster than entropy? Does entropy obey a metronome? When people walk past my grave and hear the noise below, will they say, “What’s that? Sounds like someone down there has a drum set”? When my knees spasm and whack the inside of the casket, will it produce a timbre different from when, say, my arms knock at the sides? When the speed wears off and I cease drumming, will the birds finally return to the graveyard? Have you read Padgett Powell? It is OK to imitate Raymond Carver, but not Padgett Powell? If I take twenty Concerta, will I end up with twenty MFA degrees in Creative Writing? How about I just stick to the coffee? Can you tell me what you’d do without a secretary?   

Are you going to suggest I create some continuity between my sense of ambition and my time management skills? That I need to stop watching videos of 1980s hair bands on Youtube? Does Ozzy count? Is it wrong for an aspiring musician to imitate Ozzy? Can you run a fine comb over my activities? Or is it called a fine-tooth comb? Should I look it up? Will you recommend that I stop practicing my bass guitar? That I’m wasting time with this blog? That blogging isn’t an effective way to get attention, unless you’re swapping recipes?

A few months ago, I went to a conference. There were 10,000 writers there. I attended a panel on blogging. One of the panelists, Claire, said that new bloggers should pick a platform with a built-in community, and that we should blog every day. We should connect to other bloggers through comments and emails.

I have failed.

Three weeks ago, I started writing a new blog post, called “James Franco becomes a New York Yankee.” I haven’t put it aside; rather, I can’t stop fixing it. When first I read it, looking for grammatical errors, I thought, “This isn’t polished at all.” So I polished it up. Then I read it again and thought, “This is too damn long.” I pulled out the Gordon Lish machete. Then, “This is too damn sparse.” Then, finally, “This is a goddamn turd.”

I would like (for just one week) to think that everything I write is golden, to deem my every keystroke worthy of immediate publication. Pomposity and delusion would afford me the time to pick a platform with a built-in community, to blog every day, to connect to other bloggers through comments and emails, to post on someone else’s blog, “Hey, I read your rant on sexism in the New York Times Book Review, and loved it. I read the whole thing, beginning to end. I didn’t even need to take Adderall. That’s how well you held my interest! Update me next time you write something. Are we good friends? Or should we trade a few more comments before we start declaring things like that?  What do you think about my blog? Do you believe I’m cheating by using a famous guy as a creative writing prompt? I think it’s cheating. Get this: I just told you the truth. Are we good friends now? Are we close?”  

James, are we close? Can you now tell me how you’ve outsmarted time and space? Why doesn’t Advil affect me anymore? Why haven’t I seen a fox in years? When was the last time you cried at a zoo?

If I do that, will someone escort me out? 

About Letters to James Franco

My name is Don Peteroy. I'm a PhD. candidate at University of Cincinnati. My major has a long name, so try to say it in one breath: "English and Comparative Literature with a Creative Dissertation." I spent the majority of my adult years as a social worker. I decided it's pointless to help people, so I've devoted the rest of my life to reading and writing. Here's all my publications and works in progress: My novella, "Wally," published by Burrow Press, in the fall of 2012. Novella: "A World Without Owls" Unpublished. Novel: "My Helicopter Heart" Unpublished. A failed playwright stalks Kirsten Dunst during the Christian apocalypse. My short story, "The Circuit Builders" is the winner of the 2012 Playboy College Fiction contest, and will appeared in the October 2012 issue. Here's are more published and forthcoming short stories: "The Trouble With Hello is Goodbye": Arcadia Magazine 7, 2014. "Kurt Vonnegut Didn't Like Me" Online Sundries, 2/14 http://www.arcadiamagazine.org/4/post/2014/02/kurt-vonnegut-didnt-like-me.html "Because I Want to Know You" forthcoming reprint in Short Story America "A Hole Without A Rim," forthcoming in the Florida Review "Keeping it for Good," The Heartland Review. Forthcoming. “A Penny In A Pill Bottle,” Dislocate, Winter 2012. “Because I Want to Know You” Yemessee, 19.2, 2002. “The Sluggers” Santa Carla Review. Spring 2012. “Maps and Legends” Chattahoochee Review. Spring 2012. “Melinda, Listen to Me” Permafrost, vol. 33, 2011. “Rondo” Licking River Review, Fall 2011. “The Ugly Marriage Counselor” Eleven Eleven, vol.11, 2011. “The Healing Frequency” Newport Review, Summer 2011. “His Name Equals His Name” The Ultimate Writer Magazine, Summer 2011. “This Is How I Will Hold You” The Westchester Review, vol. 5, 2011. “In Accordance To The Needs Of A Canadian Literary Magazine” Worcester Review, vol. 31.1, 2011. “Too Much Anthropology” Cream City Review, vol. 34.2, 2011. “There Are No Fragments” Ellipsis, vol. 46, 2010. “Confessions of a Misunderstood Sidekick” Farallon Review, vol.3, 2010 “One Day, God Will Kill Everyone” Oyez Review, vol. 37, 2010. “When Hawks Make Love” The Susquehanna Review, Fall 2009. “Goddess Corpse” The Maynard, Fall 2009. “Misconceptions About the Nature of Blood” CRIT Journal, Summer 2009. “Go Up” The Cynic, Fall 2009. “The Misuse of Old British Words” Two Hawks Quarterly, Spring 2009. “Dead or Unlisted” The Rejected Quarterly, Spring 2003. “Sleep Log” The Timber Creek Review, Spring 2002. There are other stories out there, somewhere, but I've lost track. Awards: “From One Object to Another.” Finalist for the Glimmer Train Short Fiction Award, 2009. “His Name Equals His Name” Finalist for the Gulf Coast Donald Barthelme Award, 2009. “In Accordance To The Needs Of A Canadian Literary Magazine” 2011 Pushcart Prize nominee. "A World Without Owls." Finalist, Gold Line Press Chapbook Contest, 2011. “Confessions of a Misunderstood Sidekick” Sacramento Stories on Stage Series in California, June 2011. "The Circuit Builders" winner of the Playboy College Fiction Award 2012. "The Trouble With Hello is Goodbye" nominated for a Pushcart Award.

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