Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Writer's Pain

Found an interesting article by Quinn Dalton on MobyLives, talking about one of the most painful events a writer can live through: having a reading scheduled and no one shows up. In his Reading to Chairs, Dalton relates the indignities of having to sell your work when no one cares:
"It's worse than the worst humiliation you've ever brought on yourself at the office party, or during a break up, or during other life hiccups that most people recognize and can sympathize with. But then you find there are entire other universes of self–dismantling experiences available to you. And there you are, trying to pace yourself, so you don't hyperventilate and die on the spot.[...]

In any other business, products are designed to meet real demands. But anybody can live without books. If you design a sexy toaster, it will sell in millions of units at Target, and you will get that airy Manhattan loft, or seaside retreat, or whatever your material fantasy may be. If you write a sexy novel, you will be sent, like a vacuum salesman with a bag of dirt, to as many bookstores as you can survive. You will dump that bag of dirt on the ground and yell, hoarsely, "See? See how this will change your life?" You can count on multiple character building experiences."
Dalton's article made me realize why I've shied away from organizing readings. I'm a yellow-bellied coward. There. I admit it. I've use the excuses that I was a writer, not a marketer, or a business person, or my publisher, even. Why should I have to do their work?

But now I can't avoid admitting it: organizing a reading and having no one showing up for it, except a couple of friends who would have taken pity on me, terrifies the heebie-jeebies out of me.

Maybe, in a year or five, Dalton's courage will have an effect. Or maybe I'll brace myself and prepare a blitz for Meter Destiny, coming out this November.

Excuse me, while I go throw up.

Thanks to Liz Burton for pointing me to Dalton's article.

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