Saturday, January 21, 2012

On Defining One’s Blog (Er, That Would Be My Blog) In Order Not to be Creeped Out by Said Blog

Anyone who's been on my blog in the past few days knows that there was a blog post here about a preorder giveaway I'm doing for Where It Began. Which is no longer here. Which now exists only in a word fine in my laptop. (The blog post, not the contest.)

Only three days on the blog, and the damned thing was creeping me out to such an extent that it just had to go.

All right, there is a certain shameless aspect of blogging; one (that would be me) reveals one’s strange, sick obsessive relationship with goodreads; one gets sappy about how powerful birthdays can be after cancer, which doesn’t have a whole hell of a lot to do with writing but, hey, it was on my mind; one generally exposes unattractive quirks and how and no doubt lapses deep deep into the realm of TMI.

Possibly way TMI.

But despite the fact that, in the realm of TMI, I had a swell time picking out all the stuff for the giveaway, and I’m perfectly happy to have it on a very nice page on my website, complete with attractive photos and funny descriptions, and it makes me kind of happy to tweet about it from time to time (I swear not spammily), just seeing it here in the body of the blog depressed me.
Because the blogging wasn’t supposed to be stealth marketing. (Or in the case of the poor, deleted entry, pretty damned direct marketing.)

I wish I had a really good definition of what the blog is supposed to be, the parameters, the artistic intention, the deeply deeply meaningful semi-literary whatsit in which I plan to wallow here. And perhaps one day I’ll have a sudden impulse to inveigh all blog readers to wear sandwich boards with the cover of Where It Began plastered front and back.

But that day isn’t today.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

OCD and Goodreads

Writers with any slight hint of OCD in their make-up should not be on goodreads. Period. They should block it from their computers or, if that doesn’t work, they should somehow rig their computers to make an unpleasant noise and shock their fingertips when they so much as type…

Not because goodreads might just have some inherent issues (to be discussed some other time, or maybe never, because it sounds a lot like whining) – that is not my issue.

My issue is obsession, flat-out obsession, naked unembellished obsession. And did I say obsession?

There are so many tiny elements to be obsessed with too. How many people plan to read my new book? How many people added it today as opposed to yesterday as opposed to that really great day in November? What is the rating? Why has it gone from 4.11 to 4.10? Yay, it’s 4.14, but wait, now it’s 4.9. Whew, it’s 4.10 again.

The thing is, the numbers are ever-changing, with tiny yet fascinating shifts every few seconds. Especially with a book giveaway. OMG, as we say in YA.

Where It Began has a goodreads book giveaway going.

It started yesterday afternoon. At this moment (wait a second, gotta go check) there are 257 people signed up for it. And how many times have I checked to see how many people have signed up for this giveaway? Hint: It rivals 257.

This is not healthy. This is not a good thing in so many ways. I would make a list of the ways but I have to check goodreads.

And lookee here: it’s 258.

Are there pills for this?

Friday, January 13, 2012

From the Sublime to the, Um, Less Sublime: The Wonderful World of Getting the Word Out

Time was, sitting around writing in spiral notebooks with pilot pens seemed like the coolest work in the world. (Intellectually and artistically satisfying; fulfillment of a childhood dream; a way to explain at-home motherhood that didn’t trigger highly politicized, lip-curling disdain…)

Still does.

But time was, also, that anything even vaguely resembling self-promotion seemed creepily, shamelessly materialistic -- a form of unappetizing bragging, that could cause friends and strangers alike to literally and figuratively unfriend me.

I was wrong.

And here we have the few, incredibly obvious truisms that have finally permeated my consciousness to make shameless promotion somehow less shameful: legitimizing my forays onto twitter, facebook, and my shiny new website; transforming these previously embarrassment-riddled jaunts into necessary activities in support of my writing. As opposed to a hideous time suck.

Or maybe it only takes one. And here it is:

For me, as much as I love sitting around and guiding pilot pens from one end of a spiral notebook to another, the point of writing is saying something to someone.

Someone who has to know that the book is out there, what it’s about, and about my sensibility as a writer. (All right, given twitter, the sensibility of my dog is also on the table. As is my dog. ) Someone who does not, in fact, live next door and whose primary access to information about books involves a computer.


And did I mention my pre-sale giveaway?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Birthdays After Cancer

OK, this isn’t about writing. Sort of.

It’s about my birthday, which was yesterday, when my husband and my 20 year old son drove me up the California coast to my favorite outdoor cafĂ© in Santa Barbara and to a sunset walk on the beach that I’ve loved best since childhood.

When my daughter called from Manhattan to have a wonderful birthday conversation, and my 88 year old mother offered to share the grisly details of my birth before I stopped her.

Yesterday was also my 19th birthday since I had cancer.

As it turned out, I had a good kind of cancer, the kind that can be cured. (Knock on wood. Po po po. Masses of salt over the shoulder.) The kind for which the cure is not a walk in the park, or even a walk through the hospital because, post-surgery, you end up swallowing so much radioactive iodine that you can’t hold your kids or get too close to anyone who ever wants to get pregnant. (A fact graciously shared with me from across the room by a nurse who wanted to get pregnant.)

It is also a cure that can make you feel so sick that you become a lifelong advocate of the medical marijuana that made you stop feeling sick. Indeed, you run around threatening to grow the stuff behind your house when the feds start manhandling California’s pot dispensaries. (In case anyone is planning to come visit, I don’t. I have a black thumb and a soft spot for our many, rose-eating gophers.)

But here I am.

With a very clear memory of when I didn’t think I’d be here. When a thoughtless and possibly evil doctor gave me some outdated articles (that turned out to have no relation whatsoever to my illness or to my prognosis) that seemed to suggest that I wouldn’t be around to raise my kids.

I don’t think about that much. But on my birthday, I do.

Here I am.

It was a very happy birthday.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Addicted to Television

There is nothing like the winter holiday season, a time of warmth, fellowship, good friends, and spiritual uplift, to remind a person (that would be me) of how addicted she is to television.

I do have an ever so slim excuse for this addiction. One of my kids is a budding cinematographer and we get to sit around and marvel about the gorgeousness of the lighting of Mad Men and the gloriously well-shot Modern Family.

Unfortunately, this excuse is, how would you put it, a complete crock.

There is nothing educational, bonding-with-kid promoting, or pretty about me slamming around the family room, panting and throwing lovely, down-stuffed decorative pillows against the wall and screaming, “What do you mean Revenge isn’t back yet?” “Where the hell is Good Wife?”

And reassuring myself that I’m not actually that far gone -- at least I’m not hyperventilating in the absence of Survivor 17, Stranded in Waukegan, Illinois -- isn’t doing all that great a job of calming me down.

I mean, I’ve heard Laurie Halse Anderson’s inspirational talk about finding time to write, dedication, and commitment.

And so I ask myself, if not for my blood lust and inability to turn away from Emily Thorne wreaking havoc with all those evil, rich people with, btw, spectacular houses in the Hamptons, would my WIP that is due in 28 days be, say, finished? If not for The Good Wife, would I now be an expert on the folklore of the Sephardic diaspora?

Never mind that the answer to these questions is, No, I would be playing Scramble on my cell phone.

Does this mean I have to turn in my credentials as a literary type? Probably not. Last month my critique group of well-published doyennes of kidlit spent a good long time discussing Castle.