Now that I have a novel out and Oprah is trying to call me (I haven’t taken her calls yet because I’m using a strategy of coy anonymity to increase interest, like Thomas Pynchon), I’m thinking about what to do next. Now that I’m living in a fantasy world of imaginary fame and all.
I could plan how to spend all that money. At the moment I’ve earned enough to go to Chipotle and have a burrito, as long as I don’t get chips. Or at least I will have that much if the person who told me they’re going to buy the book goes ahead and buys it. Just in case things pick up, I’ve also written down the address of the Mercedes dealership. Picture that—driving up to Chipotle. “Yo, gimme two burritos. With chips.”
I ordered a few copies of the book myself, because I want to send some to friends, and the books came yesterday by UPS, a loud banging on the door, rousing me from my sleepy little beer nap. I opened the box, took them out, and wow…so book like. And that cover, man, it makes me want to read the book. Or it would, if I hadn’t already read it about a hundred times while working on it.
The important thing with a book, whether it’s self published or put out by a big ol’ New York publisher is to publicize it, to let people at least know it exits, so that they can ignore it consciously. Marketing, that is, the sort of thing a person who writes would naturally love doing. I was thinking of it as similar to going to Chamber of Commerce meetings to shake hands, act like you’re smiling, and force your business card on people who don’t really want it. I used to do that when I was looking for a job and loved it, just loved it.
Part of my razor sharp, bullet proof, meticulously calculated marketing plan is to stand on the street corner and when people walk by I’ll look at them with my eyes really wide, like those velvet paintings of kids with big heads.
No, seriously, I’m going to go to independent book stores and give a copy of the book to the owner. Will doing this help? I do not know. But it won’t hurt, and it’s my idea for the moment, in addition to spending lots of time at poetry readings for a chance to mention the novel.
What I really want to be doing is sitting right here in this chair, listening to this Pandora station, with a bowl of cashew nuts, working on a new novel. I’m actually writing much less than I wish, in part from spending time on the marketing. I also have a job now, a good job, and as I’ve said to people several times, the only negative thing about my job is that I have to go to work. If not for that, I would write more, in addition to doing a better job keeping up with kitten photos on the internet.
It feels familiar to me to only have a little time in the evening for seriously writing. I wrote that way for decades, so when dinner is over, lunch is made for the next day, clothes are laid out, and so on—at a time, that is, when normal people are settling down to watch TV, or fall asleep—I try to get a second wind, look at my notes, focus on the story, read the last few pages, and keep going. It can seem incredibly slow, with only one paragraph written some evenings, or less, but I know it works if you keep at it. I’ve written several novels this way.
I’m back at work on the most recent book, which I’ve been working on for maybe two years and not even remotely near to finishing. In fact, I just started over in a way, writing new chapters, though I’ll incorporate some of what is already written. I’m focusing in on two characters, slowly making myself get rid of the other characters who I like so much, but who scramble the story. I think Tolstoy has been a bad influence on me.
I’m writing, though, and everything seems better when I do that. Then I feel like I’m in my place in the world.