The Fratire Retirement

August 28, 2019

"There is no good in anything until it is finished."
-Genghis Khan

If you read Hilarity Ensues (or the big profile on me in Forbes) you know that I am now retired from writing anymore stories about drinking, partying, fucking, and hooking up. In case you haven't read that book yet, here's what I said:

"As I sit here putting the finishing touches on this book, it's September 2011—exactly nine years to the month since I launched When I got to the literary world, it was like a great big pussy, just waiting to get fucked—and I stepped up and fucked the ever loving shit out of it. I've cherished almost every moment of this past decade. All the successes I've achieved are humbling and amazing to me; they surpassed every dream I had for myself when I started. In the nine years since I started, I've entertained countless people, sold millions of books, invented a new literary genre, and had a movie made about my life. And I haven’t even turned 36 yet.

This is not to say I haven’t made mistakes or done stupid things I wish I hadn’t. Of course I've done things I regret—how could I not?—but I wouldn't change anything, even the setbacks and failures I've had to endure. Good always comes with bad, and both have been beneficial in their own way.

But as awesome as my last nine years writing these stories has been, I think it's time for me to move on. There are a lot of reasons, but the big one is pretty simple:

This is not who I am anymore.

When I first started in 2002, I was writing stories about the way my life was at that moment. But over the last couple years, I’ve realized that I don’t do all the funny but stupid shit I did when I was 25 anymore, and I find myself writing about the way my life used to be. I'm not the same person I was when I started writing these stories, and I don’t live the same life I did then—so it no longer makes sense for me to keep writing that way.

Plus, even though I had a blast and I racked up some great stories, you’ve read them all now. With the publishing of this book, I've told all the great fratire style stories I have about drinking, partying, and fucking.

Given that, I think it makes sense for me to step off this stage and leave fratire behind, forever.

Three final things:

1. I'm only done with fratire, not with writing or life: I am retiring from fratire, but I am NOT "retiring" in the sense that I am done with life. I'm not going to lay on a beach and count my money, or stop drinking or having sex with girls I like, or stop doing the things I love doing--that's bullshit. I will NEVER stop being who I want to be. I'm not done as a writer either. I have a shit ton more things I want to write about (in fact, I’m already working with Nils Parker on an advice book that'll come out soon), I'm just done writing the "Tucker Max" style stories that I made famous. These stories invented the “fratire” genre, but my run in it is over; it's up to someone else to pick up the fratire torch and carry it to new places.

2. Thank you: I want to thank all of you. Seriously, I cannot express enough how much all the support from you people has meant to me. You aren't really a writer until someone pays to read your work, and millions of you have paid your hard earned money to read my writing, and that is awesome. I sincerely thank each and every one of you who supported me (and make sure you get your free copy of Sloppy Seconds, which is my tangible thanks to my fans).

3. More to say about retirement, just not here: I have a lot more thoughts about retiring, my career, fratire, etc, but most of them are self-indulgent, weepy bullshit, so I'm not putting them here. My books have always first and foremost been about laughter and entertainment, and that's how I want to keep it. The deeper, emotional, self-reflective parts of my life are very important to me, but I've never really put them in my books, and there's no reason to change that now. If you care about the rest of my thoughts on this subject and want to read them, I've posted them on my website:"

The "Self-indulgent Weepy Bullshit"

So this is it...
This is what I wished for
Just isn't how I envisioned it
Feigned to the point of imprisonment
I just thought the shit'd be different

When I wrote that I had more "self-indulgent weepy bullshit" to say about my retirement in Hilarity Ensues, I had a ton of notes I thought would end up turning into a 20,000 word screed. Then I sat down to write it up, and for possibly the only time in my life, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say. I have a lot of emotions about moving on from this part of my life, and some are complicated and difficult to process, so please understand that this piece will ramble, not be very funny, and might not even be interesting to anyone but me. I would say "buyer beware," except this is free.

When I stop and think about what the last ten years have been like, I don't really think about the success I have now. I think about what it took to get here, and how hard it all was. How I started in complete obscurity and total poverty. The struggles I had to face and the obstacles I had to overcome on the long arduous journey from rejected writer to best-selling author and cult hero to a generation. No one else sees this, because I don't write about it and because it's not part of the narrative that media use when they write about me, but it’s what I think about.

I'm not saying other people should care about this when they read my books--my struggles are mine, not theirs--but that's what I think about, what I really relish, what matters to me. The hard work I put in to turn nothing into something and achieve my success.

I don't think about the shit everyone else talks about, all the drinking and the fucking and the partying I did in my stories. It was fun as hell while I was doing it, but now, I don't care much about it. I'm glad I did it, but none of it matters that much in the long run. Everyone parties, everyone gets drunk and acts like a slut and does the same crazy shit I did. So what? What mattered was what I did with it. I turned my experiences into a series of writings that brought laughter and entertainment and joy and inspiration to millions of people, and brought a ton of success to me.

In some ways, it doesn't feel real. If you look at it objectively, what I did is preposterously difficult and basically impossible, like winning the Powerball lottery (yes, someone has to win it, but it's essentially statistically "impossible"). No one comes out of nowhere--untrained as a writer, without the support or endorsement of any established media--to sell millions of books and entertain a whole generation of young people. That's not a realistic or even plausible dream for someone to have...but it's what I did.

But in other ways, it's not a shock to me. I always knew I could make it, regardless of the odds. I always had a deep and unshakable belief that one way or another, I was going to do something awesome. I guess that's how I made it. I refused to accept anything but success and kept working through my failures until I had what I wanted.

But I'll tell you this: success isn't what I thought it would be like. Before you become rich and famous and all that bullshit, you have an image of what it will all be like. Then you get there, and its nothing like that. Some parts are better, some are worse, but it's all so different. I'm not sure how to describe this to someone who hasn't been through it. Even though you know it's a ridiculous notion, part of you still assumes all the problems you have when you're a poor nobody will vanish when you become a rich someone. And a lot of them do...but they're replaced by a new set of problems, problems that are in some ways kind of awesome (like having to cut a six figure tax check to the IRS), and some that are awful and difficult to manage (like how fame drastically alters your ability to have normal personal relationships).

That's the weird curse of celebrity--you no longer have any of the problems everyone else has, but you get a whole new set of issues that no one can understand or empathize with, which ultimately creates a gap between you and them. It's like the classic problem of the king--his job is to know everything so he can rule properly, but his position isolates him from all the problems of the kingdom.

See what I mean? This is self-indulgent weepy bullshit that no one but me cares about. Whatever. I have so much more I could say here, but it's all like this, and it's starting to annoy even me. These problems are mine, not my readers, so I'll figure them out and solve them myself. On to the things more relevant to others related to my retirement:

Not Repenting Or Recanting

"If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner."
-Tallulah Bankhead

Let me be clear about this, lest anyone misunderstand me:

I am NOT recanting or repenting or taking back anything I've done. FUCK THAT.

I am proud of who I am and what I've done, I had a fucking blast the last decade, I will never try to disavow who I was or what I did, nor will I ever apologize for having the balls to be the person I wanted to be.

Furthermore, you will never, EVER hear me repudiate my old lifestyle, or disparage those who live in a similar way now that I'm not doing that anymore, like some fucking born again Christian. I had an amazing time the last decade or so, and I wouldn't trade those experiences--even the bad ones--for anything. How else could I know what I want unless I try everything? How can I know who I am until I test myself and see where I succeed and fail? I am who I am, and I did what I did--right or wrong, it's the reality of who I was then and am now. To sit here, after I went through it and benefitted from it, and then try to take all of it back would be the worst kind of hypocrisy. I will never do that.

Some people have thought that the Forbes profile about me being in psychoanalysis means that I am now against the way I used to live. That is just wrong, and I never say that in the piece, in fact, I say the opposite. I will never tell you to not follow my lead, and not to live a similar life to the one I led in my twenties. I am not living the way I used to live anymore, and I won't go back to it, but if you want to get drunk, act like an idiot and hook-up with a bunch of randoms just like I did, then please by all means: Go do it. God knows it worked really well for me for a long time, and if that is a phase you need to go through, then go through it. The only way you can know if a path is right for you is to walk it.

Just because something will eventually come to an end, doesn't mean you shouldn't start it.

But That Doesn't Mean I Think Everything I Did Was Right

"Good judgment comes from experience, and experience often comes from bad judgment."
-Will Rogers

Of course, this view needs to be balanced with that fact that, I understand that I made mistakes. A LOT of stupid mistakes. As much awesome shit as I did, I also did some awful, fucked up shit in my twenties; no one denies that, especially not me. I did mean things to other people and myself, I said cruel shit to other people and to myself, and I made pretty much every mistake a person can make. I acknowledge that--in fact, I made a career out of writing about most of these mistakes honestly and without pretense.

I didn't live my life perfectly, I did some things I probably shouldn't have, but I'd do it all again. God knows I have failed many times and in many ways, but our successes grow out of what we learn from our failures, and our victories come with scars. You must be willing to accept both, or you get neither. My mistakes are as much a part of my success as my achievements are.

That's life though--if you don't make any mistakes in your life, if you don't have any failures, then you aren't risking anything or exploring new things. That's not living, and if there is one thing I have demanded from life and will always demand, it's to live it to the fullest. The only true success is living your own life in your own way. That's what I've done in the past, that's what I'm doing now and that's what I will always do, and I'm not sorry about that part.

Why Retire Now?

"Do not wait till you are a setting sun. It is a maxim of the wise to leave things before things leave them. Wise trainers put racehorses out to pasture before they arouse derision by falling on the course."
-Balthazar Gracian

This was an easy decision to make; like I said, I've told all the great fratire stories I have to tell, and I'm not really making anymore because don't live like I used to. Of course I could keep going out and getting drunk and acting like an asshole just to find something to write about, but I don't feel like doing that anymore, so I'm not going to.

While the decision itself was easy to make, actually executing it in my life was a different matter altogether. I had to look at my life and my career--on top, publishing #1 best sellers that sell millions of copies--and willingly decide to walk away from it. The fact is, I'm selling more books that I ever sold, I get more readers every day, more famous every day, and make more money every day. I'm doing better now that I ever have by almost all measures of success. That is incredibly hard to do, to leave before you have to, to walk out on top. Just remember Michael Jordan in a Wizards uniform, and you understand how hard it is to let go. I could conceivably continue pumping out best sellers for at least five more years, so why stop now?

First off, I've never been motivated by money or fame or just accumulating more crap. Money matters of course, but it's not what matters most, and it's not what motivates me. I would never do anything just for more money, which at this point would be the only reason to keep writing new fratire stories.

When I started writing these stories, it was out of joy. They were fun to entertain my friends with and it was exhilarating when other people who didn't know me enjoyed them. It's not like that anymore. It's not fun now. The things that are amazing at twenty tend to get tiresome by thirty. At thirty-five, they are fucking stupid and boring.

I have always ruled my life by a very simple principle: I'm not going to do what I don't want to do. I wanted to live this life and write about it for a decade. So I did. And it was awesome. Well, the fact is--I just don't want to do it anymore. My life has shifted and I've started to find meaning and value in new things, things that aren't represented by what I have written about or the way I used to live. The stuff I wrote about in my books, that was a moment in time in my life that's now over. I've told every funny story I have to tell, I've made all the jokes I wanted to make and said everything I want to say about that period of my life.

Responding to Critics and Haters

"Getting a lot of people to hate you is easy--all you have to do it become really successful at doing something you love."
-Hugh Macleod

Another thing I learned in ten years of going from no one to someone in a very public, confident way, something that might apply to you in your life: If someone that doesn't know you and has never been impacted by your actions feels a strong emotion about you--especially if it’s hate--it has nothing to do with you. This applies to all haters everywhere; people who hate on someone they don't know who hasn't done anything to them or in any way affected them, then the hate is 100% about the haters internal, unresolved emotional issues. Usually some combination of status envy, identity threat and self-loathing. It has nothing to do with the object of their hatred--that's just a proxy for them to focus their issues outward and avoid facing them internally.

If you've ever done something cool in your life, you know what I'm talking about--the person who talks the most shit about what you did is the one most threatened by your accomplishment, or most jealous by what you did, because it was something they wanted to do, but either didn't have the ability to do it, or the courage to even try. That's just life. In a way, it’s actually good to have haters--it means you've done something with your life.

I thought I might use some of this space to answer critics or shit on haters. Then I realized something: Why would I do that? I won. You don't see Mark Cuban or Dirk Nowitzki still talking about the Miami Heat do you? They just hold up the Larry O'Brien trophy. The Mavericks are the champs; that ends all arguments.

I'm in the same boat. Over the last decade, people have said pretty much every negative thing about me you could imagine and tried to argue away my success at every turn. They told me how and why I'd fail in every way you can think; no one would read my website, it wouldn't work as a book, the book wouldn't get published, the book wouldn't sell, the book wouldn't sell for a long period of time, my stories were too crazy to be true, my stories were too pedestrian and boring for anyone to care, I couldn't follow-up one success with another...etc, etc, etc. Just look at the back covers of my books if you want to see some of the worst things people have said.

But I don't need to list them or go over them and answer each one anymore. What can anyone really say now, when confronted with the fact that I've sold millions of books, spent over half a decade on the best seller list, invented a new genre of literature, and did it all without ever getting any significant traction or coverage from the mainstream media? Nothing.

Of course people can always be snarky, they can take jabs, they can make up things about me--but they have to do it standing on the outside, looking in at me and my millions of fans. I don't need to answer them. I was right, they were wrong, and everything negative that's said about me now has to come from that perspective and with this caveat: I won.

What's Next For Fratire?

"The whole universe sat there, open to the man who could make the right decisions."
-Frank Herbert

My part of the fratire show is over. I said everything I have to say in it. I relished the moment when it was mine, and now I am stepping out of the spotlight and moving on. The stage is empty.

What's going to come next for fratire? Who's going to take the stage? I have no fucking idea.

I do know one thing: I KNOW it can be done better than I did it. I created it and blazed the trail yes, but I did not perfect it. Someone can step up to the mike, and follow my act, improve it, take it new places, and become something I never was. I'm the Dr. Dre of fratire. Which means that the Eminem and the Biggie and the Tupac and Jay-Z are all still out there, and I’m just as excited as anyone to read their stuff when they come along.

I'm saying all this because I've gotten tens of thousands of emails from people wanting me to read their writing, or telling me they are the next Tucker Max, or claiming they have better stories, or saying they're better writers. To those people, this next part is for you:

If you want to succeed in the field that I created...don't talk about it, just go do it.

Two things to remember:

1. You have to earn it: There won't be a contest or a tournament to occupy this throne. I can't give you permission to get on the stage. It's not up to me, it's up to readers. You have to earn it their attention and their respect, the same way I earned it: By taking your life and experiences and turning it into entertainment that people find compelling.

Even if you have everything it takes to succeed, success is not automatic. You can't take short cuts, you can't skip the hard work, you can't get it cheaply. You have to fucking earn it. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that it's easy. It's not. But it can be done. I am proof of concept. If I can do it, so can many, many other people.

2. It's about the honesty: While hard work is essential, you can have all that and never get anywhere, if you don't work hard at the right things. What's the right thing? Everyone has their own ideas about what made my success. Some think its about the drinking, or the fucking, or the crazy stories, or the insane nights out. Bullshit. That's happened to all of us. I'm not that unique in anything I did, and neither are you. And it's not about attention-seeking, look-at-me I'm jumping up and down and I-want-my-fucking-attention-right-now-goddamnit! style either. I do that sort of stuff sometimes, but that's nothing more than window dressing. And yes I am funny and smart and talented, but not exceptionally more funny or smart or talented than a huge number of other people out there.

No, none of that is what truly made my success. I can explain the key to my success in one sentence. It's very easy to understand, but incredibly hard to implement:

I wasn't afraid to be honest in my writing, exposing both the good AND the bad about myself in an authentic, raw and compelling way.

Do that thing--be painfully honest--and you'll get there, because no one else does it. Everyone in the world is a liar, whether its to themselves or to everyone else, they're all full of shit. If you have the courage to tell the truth, to open your soul to the world, even a little bit, the world will stop and look.

If you're lacking confidence, remember--no one predicted I'd become "Tucker Max." What your life is and who you become is ultimately up to you.

What I'm Going To Do Next

"Nothing is more intoxicating than a victory, and nothing more dangerous. When you attain success, step back. Be cautious. When you gain victory, understand the part played by the particular circumstances of a situation, and never simply repeat the same actions again and again. History is littered with the ruins of victorious empires and the corpses of leaders who could not stop and consolidate their gains."
-Robert Greene

When I say I'm done writing fratire stories, everyone wants to know what I'm doing next. The first thing I'm going to do: Rest. The last decade has been awesome, but it's also been fucking exhausting. I need to stop, relax and look at myself and who I am now so I can figure out what to do next. That takes time.

After that, I'm honestly not sure of everything I'll do. I just turned 36. I have a whole other life in front of me, maybe two or three. I'm not even married yet, I still don't have kids (that I know of), not to mention that I could have any number of other careers and endeavors ahead of me.

And then there's the consideration that I don't have to do shit. Authors always say that writing books doesn't pay well. Bullshit. When you sell millions of books, it pays well enough to not have to do anything I don't want to do for the rest of my life.

But even though I never have to work a "real" job again, not doing anything is not in my nature. The stereotypical retirement where people go lay on a beach and wait to die doesn't sound at all appealing to me. I write because I like writing, and I work because I like working, and I fully intend to keep doing all the things I like doing. There are a ton of things I've thought about doing, and I have so many things I could do. I honestly have no idea what I'll end up doing.

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end."

Tucker Max

Tucker Max is the co-founder of Scribe Media, a company that helps you write, publish, and market your book.  

He's written four New York Times Best Sellers (three hit #1), which have sold over 4.5 million copies worldwide. He's credited with being the originator of the literary genre, “fratire,” and is only the fourth writer (including Malcolm Gladwell, Michael Lewis and Brene Brown) to ever have three books on the New York Times Nonfiction Best Seller List at one time. He was nominated to the Time Magazine 100 Most Influential List in 2009.

He received his BA from the University of Chicago in 1998, and his JD from Duke Law School in 2001. He currently lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife Veronica and three children.

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