Category Archives: small town USA

The Monday Book: WRITING DOWN THE BONES by Natalie Goldberg

Yeah, it’s a classic. And it’s a classic for a reason.

One of the coolest things about Goldberg’s book is, even outdated, it updates itself in your mind. “Think about the pen and notebook you use.” She doesn’t mean a small laptop. She means paper. Remember paper?

But from choosing your tools carefully, through “don’t cross out”–which means don’t edit your first draft, just get it down, get it down, get it down–she’s giving great advice.

In fact, her advice lines up with Anne Lamott’s and Stephen King’s, so there’s an endorsement for you. And I have always loved the way her advice is chunked up into little two-page pieces: be specific, keep a notebook with lists of names of stuff, and use the real names, not just “fruit”; and she deals with the old procrastination trick of “making a writing room” very well. (I have never successfully had a writing room. Jack and I have made four, and I have used none. But I still get my writing done.)

In fact, my only beef with myself for choosing a “how to write” book for the Monday book is that reading about writing may take the place of you doing it. “Just one more how to, and then I’ll be ready.”

Nah. You’re ready now. That’s one of the things I love about Goldberg’s book. She makes sure you know you’re ready now, with advice that lets you know there’s no special fairy with a wand you need to wait for; just do things like “Use your senses as an animal does.” Or the section called “Claim your Writing,” where you’re allowed to believe in yourself ENOUGH TO CARVE OUT TIME TO DO THIS. I think that’s the thing I hear particularly from moms over and over again: I can’t find time; it’s not worth it while my kids need me. OK, but I never hear a guy say that. No, take that back – Neil Gaiman said something like that once. But he’s a nice guy.

The point is, we make time for what we feel we have to make time for: kids, words, whatever. And Goldberg’s very practical yet poetic advice makes it clear that, if we want to, we can not only find the time, but the ideas, the words, and the logistics to get our writing done.

 

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Filed under bad writing, Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, publishing, reading, small town USA, Uncategorized, writing

MORE AUTHOR HUMILIATIONS

Johnathan Rand is a household name if you’ve got kids. His RandAmerican Chillers series, Michigan Chillers series, and Freddie Fernortner-Fearless First Grader series have more than 5 million copies in print. But even highly successful authors aren’t immune to the vagaries of humiliation; read on. (And then check out his website: www.americanchillers.com).

On Saturday, April 28, 2001, I was scheduled for a signing at a Large-But-Now-Deservedly-Defunct-Chain-Bookstore. Upon arrival, I was informed that the manager had been on vacation for ‘some time.’ No one at the store knew about the signing.

The publisher had sent a dozen 18″ by 26″ posters for in-store promotion; they had not been placed. The store also received over 1,000 4″ by 6″ bag stuffers advertising the event. Again, these had gone unused. The press releases provided hadn’t been sent out, no media had been contacted.

The predictable result? Not a single person showed up. Note that the vast majority of my events tend to be capacity-positive, and most stores utilize a numbering system for customers to organize the flow of the line. Case in point: at the Barnes and Noble bookstore in Saginaw, Michigan, the very next day, there were over 600 kids waiting for the signing to begin.

Hmmph…..

Could it get any worse? Oh yes. Just ask Joe Cobb Crawford, author of The Poetry Company:

My agent scheduled me to do a signing at a book store that had shuttered their doors two weeks prior to my arrival. No one told me. I showed up to see a sign reading “Out of Business.” This was to be my first ever book signing. Add to the embarrassment, this store was located near my childhood home town and some friends and relatives were to attend. Lucky for me, and with no help from my agent, a kind gentleman and owner of another book store in the town allowed the signing to be held at his book store.

(Joe’s website is http://crawfordpoetrycompany.com/ and he will be putting out a book of humiliation experiences this fall, entitled What the Bookman Saw.)

 

 

 

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Filed under bookstore management, humor, Life reflections, publishing, reading, Sarah Nelson, small town USA, Uncategorized, writing, YA fiction