If you’re a writer and you’ve ever had the good fortune of experiencing someone who wants you to sign their copy of your book, this likely has happened to you at least once:
They walk up to you at a signing or a convention, or they send you the book in the mail. You have the book in your hands, and you ask them if they’d like you to personalize the book in some manner when you sign it. They say that’s cool, knock yourself out, and so on. Then, you maybe ask them if they want you to write anything in particular. Their response? “Oh, you’re the writer. Just put something clever.”
Now, depending on the book, I might have a cutesy phrase or something to accompany my signature. For Paths of Disharmony, for example, I’ve been using “Choose your path!” For What Judgments Come, I’ve written “Stand and be judged!” And so on. Other times, I might use something relating to whatever conversation we’d be having at the time and which sticks in my brain for one reason or another.
And then, there are the times I draw a complete, utter blank. What to do, what to do? I decided that I needed a backup plan, which I call “The Inscription Deck of Doom!”
What is it? Just what it might sound like: a deck of index cards, on each of which I’ve written some goofy saying. Whenever I’m confronted with a variation of the “Oh, just put something clever” line, I lay the deck face-down on the table, spread them out, and have the person pick a card. Whatever comes up is what I write when I sign the book. For example:
- Rock out with your Spock out! (usually just for Trek books)
- Don’t sweat the petty things. Don’t pet the sweaty things.
- tlhingAn HoL, Mother F*cker! Do you speak it?! (thanks to David A. McIntee for inspiring this one)
- Batteries not included.
- Pee into the wind!
- I am your internet girlfriend.
- What exactly is a magnesia, and how the heck do you milk one?
- No monkeys were harmed during the writing of this book.
- I’m the goddamn Batman.
- Reading this stuff will make you go blind. Wait…I mean…oh, nevermind.
- Never fry bacon when you’re naked.
- Be nice to your kids. They’ll choose your nursing home.
- You mean you actually read this crap?
- Some assembly required.
- Avoid the clap. – Signed, Jimmy Dugan
- SAN DIMAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL RULES! (added this one after watching Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure the other day)
- Best Wishes! Doesn’t this one suck? Go ahead. Pick another card.
So, now you know. Ask me to be clever at your peril.
(Suggestions for adding to the deck are welcome, of course.)