Writers, I think, are often at a loss about what they should do next after they announce the release of a new book. Obviously, we do what we can to promote it; that can keep an author very busy. But that’s not the kind of moving on I’m talking about here. Quite simply, whether it’s blogs or friends, we become tongue-tied after the initial “Hey, my book got published today,” and all the WOW and CONGRATS and WHERE CAN I BUY IT and HOW SOON WILL HOLLYWOOD CALL comments have run their course.
Friends are ready to move on, and I don’t blame them. They don’t want the book to come up in every conversation any more than they want to rehash the same movie every time they meet for dinner or a drink. Unless the friend is exceptionally close, the book discussion pretty much runs its course after the first time it comes up. Yet, from the writer’s point of view, the book is a continuing presence, much more like having a baby or getting married than a topic to be squeezed in while waiting for the waitress to refill the coffee cups.
The book has not only been a large part of the author’s life prior to publication, it remains part of his life forever. It’s not just the job of promoting it that consumes time and energy; nor is it handling the reviews, good and bad, or figuring out whether to set up a book signing three states away, or gearing up to write a sequel. The writing of the book has changed the author: and for better or worse, he will always be dealing with who he has become and whether he’s happy with that. Don’t even suggest that he ought to take a bill to get over it.
There are times when I wish the art and craft of writing weren’t viewed by the general public as a weird process done by weird people. “Yeah, I already heard about your new book,” we hear when we bring it up again. I want to reply, “well, I already heard about your sales job, but that hasn’t stopped you from telling me about your boss and your co-workers and your trips and the breakroom chatter for the last 15 years.”
I think about saying that, but I don’t, because writing–in the eyes of others–is just too different to fit well into dangling conversations on the carpool ride home or while waiting for the movie to begin. I know my writing caMalcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Garden if Heaven,” “The Sun Singer,” and “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Firereer will never get equal time with selling cars or driving trucks because non-writers just don’t know how to give it.
But I think it’s only fair to remind people once and a while: like a new wife and a new baby, the book is part of my life now. Get used to it.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Garden of Heaven,” “The Sun Singer,” and “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire.”