Saturday, February 4, 2012

Steal this book!

While this past week in New York was something of a blur, I found myself with a few hours between the time when I had to vacate my hotel and when I needed to get to the airport. In that window I managed to get to two amazing bookstores - 192 books in Chelsea and Posman Books in the Chelsea Market - and pick up one book that's been on my reading list and one the achingly hip British store clerk informed me had only just come out, apparently ushered into the world in paperback.

I'll also say that Posman's Books was a surprise as well as I was actually only in Chelsea Market doing a kind of logo/packaging safari. What can I say, I'm a sucker for really good branding.

The book I did not buy, though I saw prominently displayed in both shops and despite the fact that it too is on my ever growing list, is P.D. James' Death Comes to Pemberley. What I love about James's project is that, in my opinion, it appears to be one of those wonderful moments when so-called genre fiction and literature meet in a wonderful way. On this list for me already is The Last Werewolf, a brilliantly literary monster story and, as it was my unexpected find in New York, A Monster's Notes by Laurie Sheck, which seeks to retell the Frankenstein story.

Full confession is that I don't think that there will ever be a genre piece coming from my laptop. A good friend of mine completed a very British Christie-inspired mystery during the last NaNoBlueBlahBloop and to him I tip my hat. But it's not for me.

Which means that I am stuck with a few titles for books I will never write that I feel compelled to leave casually on the countertop while I simply walk away. I'm orphaning them on the doorstep. Dropping them from my pocket onto the street.

You get where I'm going...right?

So, here you have them, genre book titles from Artboy to you. Take two...they're very, very small:

Beaver Cleaver: Horror in the North Woods

The Philadelphia Gory: A.P. Bagel's Cream Cheese Chronicles

Two for the Shoe: A Cinderella's Sisters' Mystery

Egg Rolled: A Number One Detective Tale

Moby, Private Dick: The Great Noir Detective

Just a Minute, Mr. Postman: A Mail Order Mystery

Minute Slice: A Thirty-Minute Murder

The looking glass ceiling.

I am a behind-the-scenes person. My day jobs - with little exception - have been of the sort that, when I am doing what I do really well, no one knows that I'm there.

And, in those instances where they do, it's often wondered what, exactly, it is that I do.

I am part of phone calls, meetings, presentations and programs. I help design materials and strategies and events. 

I find answers, decode acronyms and track down data.

It's what I do and, in all honesty, I'm generally more comfortable working the backstage. I am someone who both blushes easily and giggles when nervous. Singling me out for public praise causes these two reactions to collide.

I keep thinking this is why I find myself chafing a bit over a social media site run by an organization to which I belong. You see, it's for writers and authors and, more often than not, what it is is not interesting conversation and the exchange of useful information about opportunities and projects, but an ongoing broadcast of self-promotion, self-congratulations and occasional chest thumping from a few of the alpha males to remind all and sundry that they are really who the people have paid to see.

I find it all kind of disheartening and, frankly, kind of embarrassing.

The question, of course, is what to do about it. I have no intention of leaving the organization because the benefits outweigh this swamp of unfortunately directed self-esteem issues. The outlet in which this is all taking place could also be useful for creating the kind of networking and connection space that I've been craving. While it does seem that my freelancing is going to be picking up some more steam I'm quickly realizing that - while my attic studio is an unquestionable blessing - I'm not entirely interested in picking up where Emily Dickinson left off. In other words, while writing is a solitary pursuit and I've never been a laptop-in-the-Starbuck's type, some community would be nice.

Or, maybe the question is actually why this bothers me so much. Maybe it's not that I'm uncomfortable with the amount of self-congratulating that's going on over there in that corner of the Internet, maybe it's that I'm just uncomfortable with the idea of self-congratulation altogether. After all, if a "job well done" compliment sends me scrambling for the door, what's the likelihood that I would ever actually declare something I've done a job well done?

Monday, January 30, 2012

On the road again...

Tomorrow I head out again.

This is something folks who do not travel for their jobs will tell you is a lot of fun.

But, if you do travel for work, you know that traveling for work is only fun when discussing those bits and pieces that occur outside those times that you are working. And, when those bits and pieces are not overrun by late flights, frantic e-mail activity and a ringing Blackberry.

I'm dreading tomorrow's trip (1), though it does mean getting to see someone who means a great deal to me. Which is, all cards on the table, the only reason I'm not in more of a state over this trip. The dread-making point of the trip will come soon enough but, in the interim, I get cocktails and gossip with a good friend.

As I write this...or rather, what I wrote up there just a minute or so ago, I'm conscious of the fact that another friend, The World Traveler, was worried about what the sand from an Egyptian dust storm had done to his phone and my reluctance to take a 90-minute flight seems both petty and kind of lame.

But, here's the thing.

After a lot of years of not feeling entirely settled, I now feel settled. The view out my kitchen window makes sense to me. The sounds and smells and tiny everyday errands feel completely what I should be doing.

As frustrated and angry as I have been over various things during this winter of my discontent, I know that Leopold and I made the right decision coming here to this rural city. So much so that I hate to leave even for the brief trips that must be made to continue to make this all possible.

So much so that, when unlikely and unwise opportunities peek their shaggy heads around the corner, they seem much more palatable than they would have now some one year ago.

And, who knows, maybe that flutter will be the thing to make all these other things...these bits and pieces...fall into place.

Crazier things have happened.

1. Which, for those of you peering behind the curtain does will not bring me to the land of monuments and ramen noodle-dependent House staffers. Soon...very soon.