by Scott Rothman and Mike Sacks
Thank you for taking the time to open this envelope. As you are no doubt aware, since you may not have had time to read my last three letters, time, the very whitest of white noises, is of the essence.
Anyway: I am a writer named Rhon Penny (silent h) and I am no longer married. I am writing to you today (again) with an exciting proposition that is going to be very difficult to decline. But first, a little background about this crazy “game” we call the “literary world”
Have you heard of a writer named James Patterson? Of course you have. He’s only the biggest selling writer in the book business (nothing personal), churning out two or three best-sellers a year! So, you’re thinking, what’s his secret? Guess what? He uses writing partners. This is where I come into the picture. It’s my thinking, that if we join forces—preferably right now—we can make this happen for you.
Being somewhat familiar with your oevre (I misspelled that on purpose as an “inside joke”), I realize that you might not be so quick when it comes to creating book ideas—but I’m incredibly fast. How fast? Since I started this letter, I have come up with three rock-solid concepts:
A “what if” premise. What if the United States had lost World War II and another country – perhaps Belgium – had somehow won? Would we all have strange accents and eat mussels all the time?
A more “high brow” literary idea: A man no longer loves a woman and vice-versa. Or so they think.I bet a lot could be done with this.
Something racial. A guy is bitten by a radioactive chameleon and wakes up to find he can change skin color depending on who’s standing next to him.
Can we now talk author to author? Are you worried about how we’ll split the payment? Or whether your name will go first on the byline? Or who will take the “lead” on talk shows? Me on Oprah, you on The View? Here’s my answer to all such questions: Let’s not jump the gun, okay?
Here’s my question for you, though: do you have any old ideas sitting around in your “trunk” that need freshening up? Most writers, as you no doubt are aware, are constantly working on a few things at once. This is what’s in my trunk:
A young man discovers a portal into another world…the vampire world. But there’s a twist: they are all werewolves. (Manuscript ends at page 52.)
An unauthorized biography of my mother.
A guy goes to modern-day Afghanistan for some reason and realizes he wants to leave because of all the current craziness. What does he need all of this madness for in his life?
For each of these manuscripts, I will give you what I have so far, along with a very detailed outline—I have plenty of time, as I’m currently receiving disability payments. You will do the same for your half-baked ideas. I’m sorry to be so brusque with you, but if we are to become literary partners, it’s better that you know my shortcomings from the very start. (For the record, I also become easily carsick.)
For other medical reasons I can’t get into, I must end this correspondence immediately. But I will not sign off without saying the following: Mr. DeLillo—Don . . . I am a very sick man. I happen to suffer from a little disease called optimism. Is it catching? I hope so.
Your future partner in the words,
Scott Rothman is a screenwriter living in New York City.
Mike Sacks is a writer on the editorial staff of Vanity Fair. His first book, “And Here’s the Kicker,” was published in summer, 2009.