I am willing to accept that I am the only one who laughs at the header. (I have made the joke before, I confess.)
But the feeling is there. You know those scenes in the Roadrunner cartoons where the legs are spinning like mad before the character gets moving? That’s my mental image sometimes these days. So far, no sense that I have run over the edge of the cliff, but then Wile never does know that till he looks down, does he?
Basically, have been running at the desk for days now, since New York trip (which was its own run-run). There are times in the writing process when it is intense and draining, and also when editing to a deadline, but this is different,
The pre-release phase for a novel, with marketing and promotion well underway, and the launch and then touring to come (and be planned) is a different kind of energy. Some love it, some loathe and avoid it. I ‘get’ why this is important, why it is part of a writer’s job, working with publishers who have invested in him or her. I try to make it as much fun as I can, for me, for readers. That may include bad puns. (Have you checked out the first few entries in the #riverofstars 50 Shades contest on Twitter? Have you entered?)
Reviews have started to arrive, too. There are some authors who say they don’t read their reviews. I am never sure if I believe them. Part of why most of us do what we do is to share our creativity and our thoughts with others, and a sense of how and if that is taking place seems a part of that process. Otherwise, why publish? (Well, yes, to pay the rent or mortgage, but…)
I do understand the writers who have a spouse or friend read the reviews first and only pass on the good ones (I know people who do that) … the process of writing a book can be so difficult, so lengthy, so exposed, that to have someone be glib and uncomprehending in a throwaway paragraph can be a horrific feeling. It isn’t just the thin-skinned who can be afraid of that.
I am really, really pleased by the early responses to River of Stars, some comments leave me feeling profoundly rewarded. It can go the other way, of course. The great Richard Ford (and his wife) put bullets through a book by Alice Hoffman when that novelist gave him a bad review – then sent the book to her. Google the story. This is from Gawker: “Well my wife shot it first,” says Ford, rather proudly. “She took the book out into the back yard, and shot it. But people make such a big deal out of it – shooting a book – it’s not like I shot her.” Enough to make someone give up reviewing. And, with respect to a very fine writer, shooting a book is kind of a big deal.
A wise writer friend once commented that the very best reviews are ‘intelligent good ones’ and the worst are ‘intelligent bad ones’ because the unintelligent bad can be dismissed and the unintelligent good don’t nourish. There’s more to the process than nourishing creativity, of course. What remains uncertain is how much reviews matter these days. Or even what counts as a review? A short bit on Goodreads or Amazon? Those can actually be places for some really thoughtful writing. There are, for example, two long pieces on Goodreads I was sent to, about Tigana, that are as generous and perceptive as anything written anywhere. And major papers can run rushed, lazy commentary. The venue may make a difference as to impact, but doesn’t automatically imply quality.
It is all kind of interesting actually, another aspect of the cyber-age and how we are all adapting to it.
I gave an essay, “On Rereading” to io9.com and the discussion in various places was smart. A few interviews came online this week, too, including a fun/funny one on tor.com. There are more in the pipeline. One of the running in place things has been doing so many conversations with people (some of them really sharp) while just sitting here. As I said, running in place.
Books are getting into stores now. On-sale date is officially Tuesday, which is when online pre-orders will ship. Worldwide launch event in Toronto is Thursday.