Awkward Press

Independent publishers of imaginative fiction and daily meditations on the ridiculousness of the universe.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

July 28, 2009 By: Category: Publishing

Only Moz knows my pain.

You're the only one who knows my pain, Moz.

This is hard.

You might not know who I am. You may have come to this site because I found you on Twitter through other independent publishers that you have chosen to follow. (Yes, I’ve been doing that, and I’m not proud.) Or you may have known me for 25 years, as have most of the (two) people who seem to be posting comments.

My name is Jeffrey Dinsmore. I helped start a publishing company called Contemporary Press. You have probably never heard of that, either. Shortly after 9/11 (I think … I’m a little foggy on the details) my friend Jay came up with the idea of starting a modern pulp fiction publishing company. I jumped on board, as did five of our other friends. We threw a couple hundred bucks into a pot and started writing books. My stipulation before joining CP was that I be allowed to write a book called Johnny Astronaut. I didn’t know what Johnny Astronaut would be about, but I knew I had to write it. I wrote it under a pseudonym, which makes perfect sense if you read the book. The author becomes a character. It’s very meta. My own family didn’t get it and most of them never bought a copy. They knew I wrote it, but they didn’t want to read it unless my name was on it. That’s very meta, too. Today, Johnny Astronaut is out of print.

I wrote another book called I, An Actress: the Autobiography of Karen Jamey. I personally am more attached to this book than the other one, but a lot of people I know didn’t really care for it. There are 1,000 copies of I, An Actress available. You should buy all 1,000 and blow our distributor’s mind.

CP was fun. We went to publishing conferences. We were blurbed about in GQ. We got a kick-ass review in The Believer. We lost our shirts. We never had an office. We did all our business on Wednesday nights at a bar. We threw parties in New York featuring musical performances by soon-to-be semi-famous bands like We Are Scientists, Bishop Allen, and the Oxford Collapse. I put my heart and soul into CP, and it broke into a million pieces. Both my heart, and CP. We still owe our distributor money. We were really good at drinking, but we were not so good at business. We were also not so good at proofreading, as a visit to our now dark website will prove.

The lesson I took from that was that I should start another business. Only this time, I would use my own money. Money that I don’t really have. But whatever, no one has any money. If it’s good enough for GM, it’s good enough for me.

So now, here I am. Our first book is about to come out. I think it’s great. It’s a great book. It’s probably going to lose a lot of money. But maybe not. Maybe everyone will love it. I’m proud of it. It has a story in it that I wrote. I am proud of myself for writing a story and putting it in a book using my own money. Most people would call that hubris. I am proud to be full of hubris. Now when I die, I will at least be able to look back and say, “well, I did that thing that one time.”

But here’s the problem: running a business properly takes time. I don’t have any time. I haven’t written a real blog post since Friday, and as a result, our traffic has dropped from a discouraging 35 hits a day to a dismal 0 hits. It takes a lot of time to manage a website. It also takes a lot of time to manage a life.

Here are some things I have to do right now:

  • Write a book about green-collar jobs by December 1st. This book is to be 350 pages long. I have only written 20 pages so far. I am doing this because it is the kind of thing writers do to make money. However, I do not know the first thing about green-collar jobs. In four months, I have to learn everything there is to know about green-collar jobs and write a 350 page book about it.
  • While I am writing this book, I am also writing two standardized tests every week. This is another thing I do to make money.
  • I have also been contributing product descriptions and articles to a website that sells environmentally-friendly products. This has nothing to do with the green-collar jobs book. Total coincidence.
  • Write a 600 word article for a children’s newspaper. Every week. These articles usually relate to some topic that I know nothing about. Although these articles are aimed at children, they cannot be packed full of made-up information. I learned that lesson all too well when I submitted an article entitled The Disappearance of Portland: Forty Years Later.
  • I still haven’t written my aunt to thank her for those cool socks she knitted me.

Next Page: More Whinging

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9 Comments to “The Pains of Being Pure at Heart”

  1. Becky Yams says:

    Keep it up! I love your posts and I will be at the party!

  2. mediuminfinite says:

    It’s an awesome sight. My only advice would be if you could be a little more funny that would be cool. Other than that it is relatively entertaining, although I do have a lot of time on my hands right know, soo… Stay Ackward.

  3. I demand a re-printing of The Disappearance of Portland: Forty Years Later.

    And the death of CP makes me genuinely sad.

  4. Charlie P says:

    Hey Jeff,

    It’s Rebecca Platt’s husband Charlie. She forwarded this to me. I have to say, I find it quite hilarious.

  5. Hey, my dad actually just switched fields into a green collar job. I can put you in touch with him if you’re hard up for material.

    Don’t stop writing.

  6. Thanks, everyone! I really appreciate the support. And Jef, I’m totally going to take you up on that offer … I’ll get in touch through the usual channels!

  7. Is it too late to chime in? I realize this was written on July 28th, and this is the internet, after all, but what the hell.

    I am one of the random people who found you via Twitter! Though it was through Infinite Summer (which I’m now totally behind on, stupid school and stupid work, grr grr) rather than whatever you were talking about up there.

    I, for one, am very impressed with everything you’re doing. I love the content you put on this site, and I promise to add you to my Google Homepage right now.

    …Ok, done.

    I would attend your party if it were in Boston instead of NY. Can you move it up here?

    Good luck with everything, Jeffrey!! Keep on keeping on, man.

  8. Thank you, Yoshi! That’s really nice of you to say. I’m sure if this thing works out, we’ll get to Boston one of these days!

  9. I am way late commenting on this, but if you’re looking for more people to talk to about that whole green collar thing, my husband does water testing/planning for storm water systems and all that and I’m sure would be happy to talk to you if that’s something that would be useful.

    I will gladly buy the first awkward book when you get that shopping cart thing up and running!


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