Oh boy. You’re interested in becoming a musician, huh? All right. I think you’d better sit down, we need to have a little chat.
I’m sure it seems cool to be a musician. You get to write songs about motorcycles and jukeboxes, call beers “brewskis” and have sex with a lot of women. It’s the ultimate life of no regrets. I mean, look at those debauched rock stars we see living the high life: Mick Jagger doing the “Harlem Shuffle,” Jimmy Buffet appearing barefoot on album covers, or even Kid Rock wearing those outlandish fedoras. Who wouldn’t want to live the life these freewheeling superstars have?
Well, it’s pointless to try. It’s just not a practical career choice in this modern world full of illegal downloading, music-less MTV and a Rolling Stone magazine no longer being edited by Joe Levy. Imagine if Bruce Willis released his album The Return of Bruno in this day & age…it’d be a flop! And if Bruno’s return couldn’t even get people to buy music, what chance do you think you’d have?
That’s why I’m going to tell you what I tell all my clients foolishly trying to do what they’re passionate about: you’ve got to write a religious conspiracy novel.
It’s not hard. Look at the shelf behind me — see those books? Yeah. I wrote all of them. The Magdalene Continuum, Apostle Protocol, A Conspiracy of Arks and Citizen Christ were all big hits, each one featuring a new religious conspiracy for veteran linguistics expert Donald Crane to solve.
Are they good? Not particularly. Did I make enough money off of them to buy a pontoon boat and start my own fledgling life coaching business? Yes. Religious conspiracy novels made my dreams come true and they can make yours come true too.
Don’t think you can’t do it. Anyone can create a religious conspiracy novel. Have you been to a bookstore recently? As soon as you open the front door you’re crushed under an avalanche of novels that have pictures of angel statues crying blood on the front cover. Look, here are the covers to all my books: each one just has a different species of snake wrapped around a cross!
Coming up with a cover image that blends religious iconography with an inanimate bleeding object or a mysterious animal is the toughest part of the job and even that’s not difficult. I can think of some stuff right off the top of my head: what about a close-up of a lion’s eye with the reflection of the Vatican in it, or maybe a cherub bleeding onto an ancient parchment and his blood is forming the image of a monk assassin holding a gun. Wait, that one’s pretty good, I call dibs on it.
You don’t have any writing experience? It doesn’t matter. Ninety percent of any religious conspiracy novel consists of fifty percent banal investigations of tombs/crypts/churches and fifty percent ridiculously implausible revelations. Here, let me read you an excerpt from Citizen Christ:
* * * * * * *
Donald slowly crept along the edge of the room, lightly tapping his gloved knuckle against the ancient wooden walls. Donk. Donk. Donk. Thonk. A grin grew across his face as he knocked against that part of the wall again. Thonk. He silently motioned for the priest to bring him a high-powered pneumatic drill, which he then proceeded to use to quickly and violently punch a massive hole into the church’s wall.
“Looks like this holy place just got a lot more holey,” Donald joked to the priest as he pointed to the hole in the wall to explain the joke.
After he finished laughing, Donald grabbed a lit torch that happened to be sitting on a pew and carefully made his way through the hole. A cold chill filled the room on the other side and the distinct smell of religious history wafted through the air. He swung the torch to the far corner of the room and there in the darkness, he could make out the shape of an old wooden bed. The same wooden bed that was mentioned in the missing pages of the Bible he had found in the diamond mines under Jerusalem. Dried blood coated the bed, soaked so deep into the wood that it would never be wiped off. Jesus’ blood. This was it. This is where they held him captive while his twin brother was being crucified.
* * * * * * *
You know what Dan Brown did before he started writing religious conspiracy novels? He was a musician. That’s right, like you, Dan unsuccessfully tried to follow his terribly misguided dreams. He released three albums in the early nineties, writing should-have-been-hits such as “976-LOVE,” a synth-and-sax-filled pop ode to telephone sex. You know where that song debuted on the Billboard charts? Negative four. It actually went into the negatives because four people paid to not have to buy it.
Sure, the fact that he was awful at it might be the reason he failed as a musician, but it still doesn’t change the fact that Dan didn’t find success until he wrote a religious conspiracy novel. Do you really want to toil away unsuccessfully at something you’re passionate about or would you rather just skip to the part where you make gazillions of dollars writing fluff disguised as spiritual gobbledygook?
It’s time to give up on your implausible ambitions and time to put on a turtleneck sweater and sport coat. You’ve got a lot of awkward back cover photos to pose for.