Why I don't like book tours.
Warren Adler E-Sheet 26
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Learned on My Book Tour
really like book tours. The discomfort, the
dislocation, the grind of repetitive
explanations and the constant drumbeat of
self-talk, meaning yakking about myself, my
work, my life, my past and ever shrinking
future, can drive a work-deprived author
like myself to distraction.
time around, flacking my new tome
The Children of the Roses in
a number of cities, I decided to tune in
with more attention to what other people
were saying during my encounters at book
signings, parties and chit chat during,
before and after radio and television
novelists on the flack circuit will tell you
that there are three questions repeated ad
infinitum by many, not all, attendees at
these functions, by radio and TV hosts,
call-in participants and various crew
helpers and groupies. Usually the division
between those who ask these questions and
others who are present are very clear to the
questions are constant and invariable,
weathering the test of time and repetition
and therefore worthy to be called respected
clichés. They are:
When do you write, meaning time of
How do you write meaning by
computer, typewriter, pencil or
Where do you get your ideas?
always answered these questions with
understanding, patience and sensitivity,
avoiding the pitfalls of condescension.
two are no brainers. I write in the morning
starting around seven and go on until
creative burn out. Since I have been writing
by computer for twenty-five years, the
second question usually has a historical
context. I started out on a manual,
graduated to electric typewriters, owning
three simultaneously, one always being in
the shop for repairs, then broke into
computers in the eighties.
question is more complex. Usually, I tell my
questioners that my ideas come from
listening to what others have to say and
observing what they do, how they live, where
they live and how they talk and act.
every author who labors in the vineyards of
imaginative writing knows why they ask these
questioners hope to discover what they
believe is the novelist's secret formula for
creating an imaginative world out of words.
Believe me, I understand their hunger for
to do it themselves. They burn with
yearnings and ambitions to tell their own
stories, fulfill their pressing creative
urges, find a way to communicate the ideas,
characters and plots that are bouncing
around in the chaos of their imaginations.
Many of them have tried, written their
hearts out, offered the results of their
labors to friends, relatives, agents and
publishers seeking the holy grail of
publication and, perhaps notoriety and
been stymied for one reason or another,
unable to proceed or been defeated by
repetitive rejection and dismissal. Some
have been through creative writing courses
at respected colleges only to discover that
the promise and hope they encountered in
their classes have often been dashed by the
reality of the marketplace and the
hard-nosed horrors of commercial publishing.
To live the
artistic life of a creative writer hoping
for recognition or celebrity or riches is a
recipe for heartbreak. Since I know the
motives of the questioners, I often try to
embellish the answer by offering a
I try to
cite the necessity of tenacity, of ploughing
ahead against the tide of negativity and
endless put-downs by gatekeepers whose
judgments are often specious and
wrong-headed. Having lived through a
lifetime confronted by such obstacles, I try
to offer my bona fides and fall back on
inspirational homilies, none of which can
offer solace to a fervent wannabe.
I know the truth of it. There is no secret
formula to impart. Craft can be taught, not
talent. Celebrity is a temporary condition,
like a rash that goes away of its own
accord. Success like beauty is in the eye of
the beholder. To the possessor it is an
illusion, like the flame of a short paper
match, fated to offer light before
disappearing into speedy oblivion. I won't
knock financial independence, but grandiose
riches is a terrible burden.
artist, only the work brings ecstasy. If
there is a modicum of applause, so much the
what I learned on my latest book tour,
although, I must admit that I probably knew
it all along.
The Adler Short Story
of this e-sheet know, I sponsor a short
story contest under the aegis of the
Council. This year we have been
blessed by an extraordinary group of
contributions, most of which might be chosen
as winners in their own right. Judges this
year were the legendary
one of the great editors in the business,
a wonderful novelist and teacher and least
of all, myself,
since I cannot resist keeping my hand in on
a competition that bears my name.
of the 2004 Warren
Adler Fiction Award is
of Jackson for her story
Tealeaves. I urge you to read this
wonderful story reprinted here. It was a
receive the $1,000 prize. Honorable mentions
go to Bob McKee,
Douglas, for his story A Covert Operation,
and Alyson Hagy,
Laramie, for Border. Forty-two
manuscripts were submitted, with nine making
the competition's "short list," which
included the writers named above as well as
"Ken" Kreckel, Casper;
Jackson; and Aliza
Joyce Miller Nelson, and
all from Laramie.
By Mary Abbruzzee
carefully arranges the tealeaves in the
center of a sheet of parchment paper and
wraps the paper in on itself three
times, then twice more from the side.
She slides the small packet inside an
envelope and leaves it on the wooden
table beside her beneath the faint glow
of a left over lamp from the 1970's.
Clasping her hands in her lap she looks
out the front window of her apartment,
watches the cars splash by on the rainy
street outside, and rocks to and fro, to
and fro, in her tempered rocking chair.
Picking up a pen and pocket sized
notepad from the table she flips to an
empty sheet of paper and writes.
I am enclosing some chamomile tealeaves for you. Please
use them. You seemed very agitated
and upset last time we spoke. Why
are you always in such a hurry? You
should spend more time at home with
the pen mid-stroke...
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