I was perusing the fall author appearance schedule at the 5th Avenue and Union Square Barnes & Nobel. I like getting signed first editions. I have shelves full of them. Sara Bareilles is coming in October and I had absolutely no idea who she was so I clicked on the More Information link. To wit:
- Wristband event
- No memorabilia
- No posed photography
- Two books per person limit
- Purchases starting 9:00AM the day of the event and join the signing line outside the front of the store.
Sara Bareilles will only be signing her new title Sounds Like Me. Event guidelines are subject to change. Please follow instructions given by the events team. In advance, the courtesy of your cooperation is appreciated.
Please follow instructions. In other words, to borrow a famous New York Daily News headline:
Sara Bareilles To Fans: DROP DEAD
Carrie Brownstein will also hit the road this fall to shill her memoir. I’ll bet it’s thrilling. A New York Times fluff piece said:
…she’s relieved that book tours are generally not as extensive as music tours. “As much as I wanted to have a stop in Indianapolis.”
Carrie Brownstein To Indianapolis: DROP DEAD
Are book tours really so arduous? Is meeting your readers such sublime torture? Don’t these frail, delicate, l’artistes realize they’ve won the lottery? I can’t stand it when people turn unimaginable success into a crushing burden.
I’ve been to PLENTY of author meet-and-greets and, for the most part, they’ve been satisfying experiences. Michael Chabon is always engaging. Sherman Alexie is the best reader out there. At one reading, I asked Nick Hornby if I could publish one of his essays in a chapbook and without blinking, he said yes. Most authors seem genuinely appreciative of their audience. But some are tormented by us.
I went to a David Foster Wallace reading. I brought three older titles with me that I wanted him to sign. When I got to the table, he sat there with his arms crossed, looking straight ahead. Not at me. The Barnes & Nobel rep said, “Mr. Wallace will only sign one old book for every new book purchased.” He looked mortified saying it.
I felt stupid and small. I tucked my tail between my legs, got out of line, bought three more new books and went to the back of the line. He then, grudgingly, signed the old titles. In hindsight, what I should have done, was chuck the new book at his stupid bandanna and told him to jam it up his ass. Christ. He’s lucky to HAVE old titles.
Look, I know getting a book autographed is trite. I’ve meditated on it and I can’t figure out its appeal. But it’s something I like to do. It’s an innocent hobby and Dear Dead David made me feel ashamed for it. He took that small joy away from me. It would’ve cost him NOTHING to just sign the fucking books and send me on my merry way.
If I’m ever lucky enough to be published and I’m sent on an author tour, here’s what you can expect from me:
- A detailed, passionate inscription thanking you for reading my book.
- A vigorous handshake. I might yank your arm out of its socket.
- Two books per person limit? Feh. How many can you carry?
- An invitation. Can I buy you a drink? Are you hungry?
- Do your feet hurt? Can I give you a foot rub?
To all the tortured souls with impending book tours this fall, especially Carrie Brownstein and Sara Bareilles (I’m still not sure who she is), that’s how it’s done, you ingrates.
I’m on a roll. What’s my other favorite red button issue? Oh, yeah.
Awwwww…C’MON PEOPLE! SERIOUSLY?! Is this what we’ve come to? Are we, as a society, so addicted to mobile phones that we can’t even put the damn things down long enough to take a piss? Man, are we soft. China is going to dink our milkshake. The phone did not, despite my pleadings and offerings to the various Gods and Goddesses, slip out of his hand, drop onto the urinal cake and get pissed on.
Oh, yes I did, take that picture.
Summer is over and these two are none too happy about it.
It was a good season. Lots of sun and beach time. If this is global warming, I’ll have some more, please.
Summer is over for my little translucent, black-eyed friend, too.
I feel exactly the same way about book signings. Were I to ever be blessed by the gods enough to really be published, I would bend over backwards to show my appreciation to anyone who thought my writing was engaging enough to warrant an autograph. Great photos! Even of the urinal.
Signings are, by and large, a thrill. Listening to an author read his/her own words make for a very pleasant evening. Most are quite nice although I understand it can be a bit of a grind.
You’ve given me gas, and it’s not the normal time I go. You gave me a wince. I’m still wincing, in fact. I sat here for a while looking back at what I wrote and realised my face is different, like someone farted here.
My blog: bad for your digestion. And a real time-suck, to boot. You’ve been warned, sir, more than once. If you’re tormented by flatulence, you have no one to blame, least of all me.
Hey! I read your blog…will you sign it for me?
Seriously, I’m with you on the “I’m famous, don’t speak to me” people. It’ s very rude and does their image no good. Some years ago, I was asked to read at some literary supper.(No, I don’t know why!) I did something I’m not very proud of. It was before cell phones had become the scourge they now are, but some people had pagers. I used to carry one when I was on-call. But a chap in the audience had his pager clamped to his waistband and after the third shrill ping-ping-ping I said that we seemed to have a celebrity among us and perhaps he’d like to come up to the mic. and tell us all about himself.
I could’ve sign something for you at the Brooklyn Museum. You should’ve mentioned it.
I remember pagers! I’m old enough for that. There’s a great rap song by Sir Mix-a-Llot called Beepers. That’s what they were called out here. You did nothing wrong at that reading. He was the one being rude, not you. Patty LuPone yanked a cell phone out of someone’s hand in the audience. I even support that.
Thinking back…maybe he just liked having a bit of a trouser-fiddle?
I’ve got a feeling some people become writers to avoid meeting people, so maybe that’s why the author tour is such a torture for them. But if you get published, I’ll be first in line for the foot rub! On second thoughts, can I change it for a pedicure?
I went to a talk once To hear Robert Crumb. He said his torment is that he likes being left alone and is not particularly fond of people but in order to do his work he needs an audience. It’s the terrible dichotomy in his life.
I’ll mark you down for a pedicure. What color?
Hear hear about the book signings. I’m sure it can be tiring to sit at a table for hours and sign book after book, but hey, it’s part of the job, a part most of us would be thrilled to have the chance to do. Especially those of us who have weathered a couple booksignings ourselves, where we sit at a lonely table and pray someone shows interest. Even an introvert like me would relish the chance to sign book after book, because it would mean people like my stuff. And isn’t that what writers ultimately want?
I’m sure there are aspects of it that are quite unpleasant. And I’ll bet some audience members are real pain in the ass. But from the outside looking in, it looks to me like it’s a fair exchange. Who knows? If I were in the soup perhaps I think differently.
As I said in the comment above, it’s the writer’s conundrum. Most are introverts and prefer to work alone but you need people. It’s a bit of a cruel trick to play on you
True, but we can all put on the adult underpants and suck it up for an afternoon. As long as the crazies stay away. Some of the famous authors at ThrillerFest had some interesting stories about strange people that turned up at booksignings. 🙂
Poor Stephen King. I’m sure he’s the most extreme point. Can you imagine what that guy put up with? I’ve actually been to two of his appearances and it’s complete MAYHEM. And not the fun kind.
I bet so. Probably need to have security on hand.
You’re exactly right! There was tons of security. How creepy is that?
Times, they are a-changin’.
Mayhem? Did King pull out a butcher knife for the shits and giggles?
No, but it looked like any one of his “biggest fans” might at any moment.
Speaking of…big Broadway production of Misery opening shortly starring Bruce Willis and Laurie Metcalf. I think it’ll work. Especially with Metcalf. She’s pretty great. Will close my eyes at the cobbling scene.
Ooh! Love her too. She steals every scene she’s ever been in. Jackie was one of my faves… hilarious actress so I can’t picture her as Annie Wilkes but no doubt she’ll pull it off and scare the shit out of people.
And Willis is no joke, either. Lots of misfires but, also, Pulp Fiction, 12 Monkeys and The 6th Sense
James Ellroy was great – I had been to a signing of his back in the 1980s and was one of three people who showed up. 15 years later, there had to be over 150 in line. I had an entire sack of books, and he just said “Hey man, thanks for being with me from the beginning.”
Welcome! Nice of you to visit and comment. James Ellroy turned inscribing books into an art form. He was the best of the best. I had a substantial collection of inscribed first editions by him. The inscriptions were violent, long and funny. They were a favorite part of my collection. I used to show people the inscriptions. They could be appreciated even if you weren’t a fan of his or knew who he was. Unfortunately, I had to sell them all for a now long-forgotten financial crisis. I don’t remember why I needed the money but I sure as hell remember those books.
Can you imagine the hoops they put the bookstore employees through behind the scenes? Ugh.
In the case I site with David Foster Wallace, the poor B&N flunky looked exasperated. How many times did he have to say that throughout the course of the evening? Poor bastard. Well, that’s what happens with temperamental, suicidal stars.
Hmm, I’ve never been to a book signing Mark. I must say though that I have the same opinion as you do: for those whose fame depends on an audience, in my mind they owe us at least respect. That includes celebrities, actors, authors, sports figures, etc. I believe they should be allowed their privacy but when they are deliberately asking for public attention, they had damned well better be well behaved and respectful or they will get an earful from me. And I have told public figures before that they were being disrespectful and to smarten up – that’s not a problem. 😀
Great post Mark – having never been to a book signing I feel that I now at least know the basic rules if not the desires of the individual authors.
90% of the book signings I’ve attended have been a nice evening out but they can be quite a zoo. I went to one for Hunter S. Thompson and people were giving him bottles of booze and carrying on like a bunch of fools. He seemed to take it all in stride. Signed the books with patience and got the hell out of town. He never signed his full name. Just his initials, HST. Books inscribed with his full name fetch a premium on the collectible market.
HST was a real character – putting it kindly. If he hadn’t tolerated some shenanigans I would have been surprised.
I have a fun HST item in my library. It’s from a limited edition art and literary journal called X-Ray. He contributed the cover. Do you remember the porn star Marilyn Chambers? Well, she was once the Ivory Snow soap girl. Her photo was on the box. Thompson took photos of Chambers on that soap box into his back yard in Colorado, shot a hole in each one with a 22 and then put red lipstick on and pressed his lips to the photo. Pretty funny stuff.
Ha! He was less than conventional. ha!
Both Spinal Tap and Charles DeLint signed my Stratocaster at their events.
Of course, after Spinal Tap did it, the rep said they would only be signing anniversary copies of Spinal Tap after that.
On the other hand, when we went to see Charles DeLint at an event in Canada, not only did he remember me from the guitar signing, he also invited me up on stage to jam with him, my wife and I also went out to dinner with him and his friends.
And he’s a great writer.
Get OUT! Is all that true?! Or are you honing your improv skills? Have you blogged about that? I didn’t even know you played guitar. I could totally see you on stage with a Strat. A white one. Are there any photos?
Actually, it’s a black strat, with a white pickguard. It was also signed by a guy I played with once, who has since passed.
No pics of me and the strat, but there is a pic of the guitar on my Toys With Pictures page.
That story is all true. I even told them the naked bar dance story. He laughed his head off then said he’d work it into a book. Still waiting for that…
I’m glad you linked to the new place. Even if you only post once in a Blue Moon White Belgium, I should be able to get there. The old URL is dead as nails.
Would you like to see the naked bar dance in someone else’s book? Is that your story? Don’t you feel some ownership?
Interestingly, I knew exactly who Sara Bareilles is, but I had no idea she’d writen a book. I have a few of her songs in my playlist, and while she’s no Madonna or Rihanna, I think she’s a relatively well-selling artist who could probably pack a small stadium in NYC. Which is probably more than any actually famous writer could get at any of their book readings, and which possibly explains the large number of limitations set on the fans.
Was that your coworker who is always eating, and was he also eating a sandwich with the other hand while at the urinal?
I thought she was somebody simply by the fact that she’s doing a signing at the 5th Avenue Barnes and Nobel. They don’t schedule B-listers there. That’s why I was surprised I never heard of her. I think she did the music for an off-Broadway show that’s about to open. I guess it’s indicative of my advanced years that I never heard of her.
That wasn’t my co-worker but they come from the same family tree. That guy doesn’t work with us anymore. They let him go.
I will certainly sign books my books for you, should I ever write one. As many as you’d like. I’d sign it/them this way:
To Mark, my bloggin’ buddy who likes to yank my chain as much as I like to yank his. Elyse, FiftyFourAndAHalf.com.
Would that work for you?
A few years ago I had a memorable “cell phone in the bathroom” experience: http://fiftyfourandahalf.com/2013/05/13/can-you-have-some-privacy-please/
Thanks for the inscription. Now comes the tough part…write the book. And thanks for the link. A funny story but do you know what’s even funnier? The fact that it’s over two years old and you can recall it like that (*snap*). Pretty impressive.
Shit. I have to write the damn book?
You know, I don’t think I have a book in me. I have many ideas — really good ones, in fact. But they all involve research and since that’s my day job, I haven’t the heart for it.
As to the incident in the ladies room, it was memorable. How many times do you get to hear about someone’s STDs?
I wish I were more ambitious. I think I can pull a book out of those journals sitting in my basement but I have a fatal lack of ambition. That’s always been my problem. Is there a pill for it? I can’t believe my wife married me.
Just think about all those feet you’ll be rubbing when you meet us all at your signing – now there’s a lovely visual for you… If that doesn’t inspire you to get busy with your book, I don’t know what will! And that’s all I’m saying, cuz I’ve been down that futile path with you before! What’s up with that little fish photo?!
I would consider a nice foot rub a small price to pay in order to write for a living and not have to get on the 5:20 a.m. bus into the city every morning. Foot rubs would feel like a vacation.
I was walking on the beach and came across that little fish and I thought there was something in the way the sand and his colors play nice together I thought made for a pleasant shot. Click on it and blow it up. It’s interesting.
The Browns are going to KILL me again this season. In the NY Times Sunday morning pre-game analysis, it said that the Browns don’t have any offensive players worth mentioning. Then the Giants blow it in the last :80 seconds against the hated Cowboys. It’s going to be another long season.
Yeah…thinking the same thing, but trying to be optimistic. I’m much more of a Cavs fan anyway, and I think this might be our year. You’re right about the colors and the fish! It really is a cool shot, especially since the eye is intact! You should paint that! I have a friend who went down to the beach and scooped up a handful of pebbles and then matched the colors to paint for her house. She lives in Bay, right on the lake, on Lake Rd., if you remember how beautiful it is there. And then she took some of the pebbles and incorporated them into the backsplash in her kitchen. You know another cool option for you would be to write human interest pieces online – for newspapers or magazines. With all of your knowledge in the art world, you could write about your exhibit visits and even do reviews. Have you thought about that? You should submit some of the stuff from your blog. You could easily be a contributor somewhere – seriously. Your voice is perfect for it. But then there’s your laziness…
My brother still lives in Bay. Do you know they don’t allow fast food franchises there? I’m torn. It’s a good idea but it also stinks of snobbery. I used to live in an apartment on Clifton/Lake. This was in the 80’s. Some of my best years.
It’s only partially laziness. I have absolutely no direction. Where do I go to submit? Who’d want this stuff? Do you have any experience? I’d love to tell my daughters that I’m published somewhere. [And, I’m sorry to all who disagree, but blogs don’t count. They just don’t.]
I didn’t know that about fast food there! Anyway, go online and search for online zines about art, entertainment, etc., and make a list of them. Then check out their submission guidelines on their sites. Everything is online now – and they need content badly. Just start the process – even if you get rejected, because you will learn as you go. Ask for feedback and don’t give up. Even if it’s a small, brand new site, it’s a start. I agree about blogs, but they do create a presence for you, and that’s very important.
I was going to complain about not having the time but was reminded of this great Bukowski poem.
AIR AND LIGHT AND TIME AND SPACE
”– you know, I’ve either had a family, a job,
something has always been in the
I’ve sold my house, I’ve found this
place, a large studio, you should see the space and
for the first time in my life I’m going to have
a place and the time to
no baby, if you’re going to create
you’re going to create whether you work
16 hours a day in a coal mine
you’re going to create in a small room with 3 children
while you’re on
you’re going to create with part of your mind and your body blown
you’re going to create blind
you’re going to create with a cat crawling up your
the whole city trembles in earthquake, bombardment,
flood and fire.
baby, air and light and time and space
have nothing to do with it
and don’t create anything
except maybe a longer life to find
– Charles Bukowski
Well one must multi task. If you’ve gotta go you’ve gotta….
My fav is when they talk on the phone while eating their lunch. I see it ALL THE TIME. That means the person on the other end gets to listen to them chew. I’d hang up.
Well then I won’t tell you that I’ve done that. Did I just say that out loud?
Turn back from the dark path you’re on. It’s never too late to repent. At the very least, never call me while you’re eating. Gross.
Is your phone ringing? Chomp chomp..
I totally agree with you…on EVERYTHING. If I can get a free foot rub and a martini gin from you when you get your book published, then I’m more than happy to fly across the pond to your book signing. If it wasn’t for the fans they wouldn’t sell any bloody books.
I wonder who the other person on the end of that mobile was and if they’d be happy to be receiving a call from a pissing reprobate.
Yep. get ready for wooly jumpers, umbrellas and snippets of daylight through the window.
I just reread my post and I don’t think it said anything about a gin martini but I’ll tell you what; if I’m published and have to give a signing and you make it out here, I’ll definitely buy you a martini in a place with a lovely view.
The person on the other end of that phone conversation HAD to hear all the commodes flushing. Did they wonder where he was? Maybe they’re used to it. That guy needs a weekend in Manners Camp.
I don’t mind fall. Roast beef dinners and all-day pots of hot coffee. A slew of new plays about to open. Before you know it, the holiday season. Bring it on.
Perhaps these authors should get a stamp made of their signatures? It would save a lot of bother.
There’s actually something called an auto pen. All of Maggie Thatcher’s books are signed with an auto pen (it figures). The individual signature pages and signed at the publisher with a machine and then bound into the books. It doesn’t count to a lot of collectors.
Everyone told me that living in London is my biggest pipe dream. That the weather would wear me down. Still…I’d sure like to give it a try.
I agree with you! There’s no reason to ever be rude to the people who helped make you a success. I don’t know if you’ll have heard of Michael McIntyre but if not he’s a really famous comedian in the UK. My friend and I once spent our lunch break zipping on her vespa to go to his book signing and he was a LEGEND. There were hundreds of people and he was charming to all of us and when my friend said she had loved his last live show he asked what her fave bit was….she replied ‘well the part where you ripped into me for being a lady of leisure when I had in fact been made redundant was pretty memorable’ and he was amazing, he jumped up and gave her a hug and said ‘I am so pleased to see you, believe me when I say I have felt bad about that for quite some time and I hope you can forgive me!’ Of course she did, we couldn’t even believe he remembered it! He should give seminars in how to do things the right way!
That’s a great story! I love that you used the words “zipping” and “vespa” in the same sentence. Well done! It’s funny what sticks in someone’s mind, isn’t it? Thanks for it. I’ve had similar experiences while standing at the signing table. David Sedaris always exchanges a word or two. It’s not necessary but it’s nice. It’s enough to restore your faith in humanity.
I rather liked the chance to use ‘zipping’ and ‘vespa’ – to be fair had you ever been on my friend’s vespa you’d have gone with zipping, she’s a speedy gonzales! It is funny how things can effect someone, honestly my friend thought it was quite funny but it had really bothered him that he might have upset her. I have a lot of time for him as a result. You’re so right that little gestures do restore your faith in humanity.
For every David Foster Wallace story (see above) there are 10 David Sedaris stories. I grew up in the Midwest and we have an optimism pounded into us as children. It’s a pretty useful tool for coping. But the Wallace stories make for interesting reads. So there’s that to consider.
I cannot wait for you to yank my arm out of its socket and buy me a drink at your book signing.
And rub your feet, don’t forget. Especially you! Hope you’re manicured. My reluctance is starting to crumble. This writing stuff is just so bloody satisfying.
You know me, I love that DFW story. I’ve had my own extremely modest book signings (like, it took 10 minutes) and I’ve found them entirely pleasant. Hey, people like me so much they want me to deface their book, what’s not to like? That said, some people can get chatty, oblivious to the (not in my case) long line of people behind them. I can see why stores and publishers would have to set some ground rules for the big shots. One rule, then, leads to another. It’s a slippery literary slope.
Segueing from “oblivious,” I’ve got your book right here: “Modern Jerks: Obnoxious People I’ve Secretly Photographed.”
What’s that like? Being on that side of the table? Is it pretty great? Did you give a short reading or was it strictly a signing? I’d like to attend a Ross reading or stage performance. Either would be a fine night out, I imagine.
I remember at a Stephen King signing some guy was in line with a small hand truck stacked with books. THAT’S why they have to impose a limit. For oblivious jerks like that. The nerve.
I’ve done readings followed by a signings. They’re the best, way better than just a signing. I can imagine few greater ego strokes. We’re talking groups of 40-50 people, but it’s pretty wonderful. Terrifying for a humour writer, though; as opposed to only imagining people laugh at your stuff, actually hearing them… or not.
I imagine those stolen moments of bliss—of validation from total strangers—makes the hours upon hours of solitary toil worth it. Like a blog comment string on steroids.
But with more bad breath.
Still worth it, I imagine.
I want to come to your book signings!!! Yet another reason why YOU should write a book, Mark. Oh, c’mon. Please, just do it. I haven’t been to enough of these to comment on my personal experiences. I wonder if the publishers have a lot of conditions/input as to how these things play out, i.e. how many books can be signed vs old/new copies bought. It seems to be an author would be thrilled if fans had an old copy they wanted signed. I would be! That a book you wrote meant enough for you to bring the book with you and stand in line to have it signed. They sound like very long lines!! You’re cracking me up. DROP DEAD. I didn’t realize that Sara Bareilles wrote a book. I just know she has that one single…can’t remember the name. Lovely photos!! (except for the guy in the stall. Did he even look up or say anything when you shot that?! Ha ha.). Say, hey man, you’re going in my blog post.
You’ll get preferential seating at my signing.
Most of the authors I’ve met have expressed, what appeared to me, sincere gratitude for their success and their readers. But those instances make for dull blog posts.
I didn’t realize who Sara Bareilles WAS, but the restrictions imposed at her signing lead me to believe she’s enormously popular. I’m SO out of it. What happened to me?
That dude had no idea I took that pic and let me tell you something, if he’d seen me he’d have crumbled me into a tiny ball and tossed me over his shoulder. He didn’t seem like the type who would see the humor in it and laugh it off. I took a real chance there!
Hope you guys are okay re: wildfires and state of emergency. Your state is burning to a crisp. So sad but could’ve been avoided, it seems.
Preferred seating. Oh, yay!! Yet another reason why you must write this book. I bet you could pull together a bestseller in months. Meanwhile, it will take me years to write a book probably no one will read. C’mon, Mark. You can do this!
It’s been terribly smokey the last few days, like unhealthy air you should avoid. You could smell the smoke bad. It’s like the apocalypse over here. It’s better today. Thanks for thinking of us. 🙂
If writing a bestseller would mean I don’t have to catch the 5:20 a.m. bus into Manhattan 5x a week anymore, then I’m going to hit the typer as soon as I get home.
I had the opposite problem at The Oatmeal’s book signing. Author was great, but the store was trying to squeeze every penny out of the people who came to see him. A couple of staff members saw me in line with two of his earlier works and told me I couldn’t get them signed because he was only autographing his new book, and only if you bought it from their store.
By way of a response, I took out my smartphone and pulled up the author’s Facebook post from that morning:
“REMINDER: I’ll be at [bookstore] tonight at 7:30pm. I’ll sign anything, including books, posters, cats, dolphin corpses, etc.”
And I told them to thank their lucky stars that I had forgotten all my cetacean carcasses at home.
I would have tattled. I would’ve! Who are they to stand between authors and their fans? I’d tell both the author and the publisher. Jerks. Good thing for them you kept your revenge reflex in check. They’ll be sorry next time, though.
I didn’t even need to tattle. One of them actually went and asked Matt Inman if he was serious (the other waited with me, on guard duty in case I tried to sneak a cat into my signing pile). I can only imagine how that conversation went.
Employee (hypothetically): “Soo…about this Facebook status that says you’ll sign anything, even cats and dolphins…”
Inman (hypothetically): “Yeah?”
Employee (hypothetically): “Were you, like, hacked or something?”
Inman (hypothetically): “You must be new here.”
How embarrassing. Just like that poor sap who worked for B&N at the David Foster Wallace reading. The soldiers always get slaughtered. The generals never feel get a scratch.
some dumb fucks need to happy anyone bought their books. xoxoxo
I wonder how it happens? They were starving for readers at one time, weren’t they? Isn’t that how everyone starts out? They lose their way. Forget what it’s like.
I’m not big on signatures on things myself. I did buy a Bernard Cornwell that was signed once, but simply it was on the shelf in a huge bookstore and same price as an unsigned one. Simon Toyne who I follow on social media goes into shops unannounced and signs a random copy or two of his novels they have on the shelf with a little message in them. Now that I just love!
Honestly, I don’t understand the appeal. I pull a book off the shelf, open it, look at the signature or read the inscription, and put it back on the shelf. What is that? It’s nothing.
Can you imagine the thrill of buying a book, opening it and seeing a message from the author written on the title page? Now THAT’S a thrill. Very clever. Would love to read that he was caught in the act and charged with defacing property.
Rule 1: Don’t meet your heroes, you’ll be let down and disappointed… Rule 2: Famous people are not special or more important than you, they’re not smarter or better looking, mainly they’re people who crave attention… there’s a reason i admire Thomas Pynchon so much, he let’s his work stand on it’s own and doesn’t feel the need to get involved in the Dog and Pony Show…
Carrie Brownstein was the guitar player/singer for the indie rawk legends known as
Sleater-Kinney, big among the Rrrriot Grl set, i personally found them wildly over-rated but that’s just me and as we know i’m just an ass.
And yes i realize that we live in an age where shameless self-promotion has become an art form and there is a whole subset of famous people famous for being nothing other than famous who have ghostwritten books and do book tours, it’s like Seinfeld, it’s really about nothing…
I know the rules but I’m a child. I know they’ll disappoint but I still want to meet them. I’ve met a couple that have impressed. I had a dinner with Bukowski’s publisher—someone I admired for decades—and it was a fine evening. Sometimes, it works out.
The noble thing is to say they’re not special. They’re just like you and I. That’s a lie. They live special lives. They’re not on a bus at 5:20 a.m. They don’t worry about money as much. They have nicer homes. They breathe rarified air. Sorry, but it’s true.
I know who Brownstein is. That band, plus she’s in Portlandia. She’s got a shitty attitude.
This is where we agree to disagree, they are just like you and i, they put their pants on one leg at a time, they take massive shits, they worry about money and how to get it, they worry about a whole lot of other useless shit that i for one don’t have to worry about, i’m not worried about the size of their home or how many they have or if they are nicer than mine, it’s a pointless exercise, if one is worried about shit like that than they are worried and focused on the wrong things, to paraphrase the Dalai Lama, and this of course relates to fame and those who chase it, “man is so focused on the future that he does not enjoy the present, the result being he does not live in the present or the future, he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived…” money, power, fame do not equate to happiness and what really matters in this mortal coil, only one is necessary for survival and even that is negligible…
I remember your post about dinner with John Martin, i called you a lucky bastard, but John Martin is not famous, he just published a guy who became famous and thus his name became synonymous with, he was not say Kanye West and only book nerds like you and i would know his name and even less know what he looks like but i’m rambling, i’ll quote Hank from an old interview, a quote i happen to agree with wholeheartedly: “I used to think the real men were at the bottom instead of at the top. The real men aren’t at the top, middle or bottom. There’s no location. They’re just very scarce, there aren’t many of them.” So while i acquiesce that a few famous people might not be complete shits i’d say it’s not much more than the general population, the do not breathe rarified air, it’s the same smog that you and i breathe, don’t buy the shit the mass media/culture shovels, it’s bad for your mental well being… now i have a futbol match to watch… and then some boyos to pick up… cuz i’m a lucky bastard too…lol!
They’re like you and I only in a physical sense. Otherwise, there’s something more going on. Might not be something better, but from my vantage point, it probably is. I agree with it being a pointless exercise. But I think I might have a little problem processing all that. Does it show? Gee…I sure hope I’m hiding it well. I think it’s entirely possible to live a long, happy life without wealth or fame. But isn’t the ride just a little better with that stuff? We’re not supposed to say it is but I think it might be.
John Martin is a celeb in my world.
You’ve got your head screwed on pretty tight. Pretty amazing considering the unpaved road you took to get here. I’m working towards that. It’s a process.
I’m with you on the audacity and short memory of famous people, Mark. Because a lot of girls and women went out of their way to buy her song Brave, Sara Bareilles, became both pretty rich, I imagine, and a celebrity, I know, as she went on to become a judge on one of those TV singing competitions thereafter. She should sit there in the bookstore and sign until the last book and soul are gone or her hand cramps up and is useless.
When our book on Syracuse University sports was published a couple summers ago, my co-writer and I went to every local event to which we felt fortunate enough to be invited, signed every copy anybody asked us to with personal messages, and told stories and answered questions for an hour at the Barnes & Noble. … No foot rubs, though. Nobody asked.
I can sit on my high horse and criticize all I want. It’s easy! Who’s listening? But I wonder how I’d react if it really happened to me? Would my high standards stay in tact or would I be complaining by the fifth city? It’s like people who want to win the lottery. They think they can handle the instant infusion of tremendous wealth but could they? It’s not that easy. It ruins a lot of people. You don’t know how you’ll react when you actually have that money nested in your palm. Or a book on the bestseller list.
If people treat you rudely constantly, it would get to be a pain, sure, Mark, but still … buck up! I understand having to draw a line with paparazzi in your private life. I often cheer for the celebrities in these wars if they aren’t jerks otherwise. But when it’s an appearance set-up by your people to put more money in your coffers, act more civil or tell them you’re not taking the book tour. I think an infusion of big bucks doesn’t change you, it just makes you more able to be what you were in the first place.
Re: …an appearance set up. Excellent point. Nobody was holding a gun to his head. He knew what he was in for. He may not have wanted to do it but he shouldn’t have taken it out on me.
Good point on the money, too. People think that wealth is a big house or an expensive car. It’s not. Wealth = FREEDOM.
Exactly, Mark. Wealth = opportunity for better choices, of time spent, friends spending it with, and location where.
And a big car and house. But that’s besides the point. Too many people think that IS the point.
Sheesh, try to exit blogworld for a bit to get some serious writing done, and all I do is get sucked back in. This is an addiction, isn’t it. You can tell me, I’m a big boy.
Sara B is very cool by the way. Check out her photos, she has the best faraway eyes.
When you enter your book tour, I’m going to be first in line. And while I’ll appreciate how grateful you are for your fans, I’m still going to ask you to sign my ass. Possibly I’m testing your resolve, but I’ve only the two cheeks, and I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
As for that last photo… I have to admit that I’m writing this while peeing. Excuse the grammar.
You have a conflict. You feel the weight of responsibility towards your serious writing but the world if full of distractions. People visit your blog. You want to visit theirs. It gets ugly. All you can hope for is a post that’s somewhat compelling and not too long. I always aim for both, one being just as important as the other.
I will sign your ass as long as you agree to get it tattooed. People do that all the time. Have a celebrity autograph an arm or a tit and then, before washing it off, they get it tattooed. I’d be honored.
You don’t have to respond to the following comment. It’s entirely personal and consistently ferments in the mind of Trent P. Lewin. But blogging is not about serious writing. It’s not, in my opinion. The average piece of writing I see in blogland is not close to the quality I see in lit journals, it’s just not. Doesn’t make me feel the same. Doesn’t stay with me in the same way. Just doesn’t. Blogging is a hobby. Maybe a diversion. Maybe an outlet. But is it art? I don’t think so, and that’s the big difference.
So, am I an artist or a blogger? I don’t think I’ve achieved the former. And I don’t want to be known as the latter. I don’t want to be a blogger at all. I stay here for the people, and the relationships. I stay for the people who clearly excel at writing and break through into what I would consider Art. You’re in that category. Art Browne, for all his madness, is in that category. There are some awesome poets I know who fit that. There are others. But there’s not many.
The practical component of the point, for me, is kind of what you allude to. The parameters of blog success include posting regularly, posting short pieces, other parameters as appropriate. Not conducive to long pieces. Or to necessarily being all that challenging. But that’s the stuff I enjoy. I don’t want to write the same as everyone else. So the weight of responsibility becomes a bit like a flighty serpent in your pants, a bit hungry, maybe a bit drunk, constantly looking for a way out but occasionally brushing against your manhood… on the way out. But also on the way in. Damned if that serpent doesn’t occasionally see an opening and dart in…
Serious writing, there is such a thing. And I like it. And I want to read more of it, ideas and language and the brilliance of wording, and maybe just maybe making a point or giving me an exposure to something that I don’t see every single day as I walk around and people are around me. Like the art stuff you show – that’s profound, to me. It’s meaningful.
Anyway, rant concluded. I don’t mean to demean anything anyone writes in the blogosphere – it’s great to see expression of this kind. But yes, blogging is a distraction for me, you called it right. I love the distraction, dearly. But it’s a distraction nonetheless, that is the perfect word for it.
So when you arrange your diary entries one day and string a common theme through them, and package them into a novel that everyone will read, I will be in that line. Pants around my ankles. Posterior presented proudly. Write what you will, and I guarantee right now that I will get that tattoo overlay. I’ll hold up my end of the bargain. Make sure you hold up yours.
You know Trent, I understand that you are expressing an opinion and you have made that clear. I’m fairly new to blogging and I see it in a very different light than you do. It is to writing as baseball is to sports – there are all different levels of writing and, yes, most will not get to the pros. That often is not the point. The ability to express oneself, the opportunity to read others and better your writing, the enjoyment of the process and the interactions and relationships, the joy of finding others with like concerns and challenges, the structures and order that blogging imposes on an otherwise chaotic existence, the opportunity to read your own words published – for truly how can I know what I mean until I read what I say (the science being that we process written word differently than spoken or thought)?
And like baseball, everyone starts off even as a novice and some stay at that level, some progress slowly, some progress fast and some rocket into writing professionally. I am constantly amazed at how many bloggers that I interact with regularly have published books. I have bought a number of them and read others. Some are best sellers (The Bloggess), some are big in their niche, others are for the satisfaction of the writer.
I object to your categorization of blogging as second rate writing – as I would object to you categorizing Little League as second rate baseball. Of course, a Little Leaguer would have no chance in a competition with a pro, but that really isn’t the point. They are not in competition.Perhaps there are those who dream – for the most part Pros did play Little League at one point – yet the vast majority of Little Leaguers know they play for the team and the skill development and not for the chance to go Pro.
It is awesome that I can read those who are excellent writers – like you or Mark or Idiot writer or Gunmetal Geisha ( http://gunmetalgeisha.com/2015/09/18/magic-men/ ) alongside novice writers like myself. It is so very inspirational Trent and I can think of no better way for me to improve. It is the broad continuum of style and quality that provides the rich tapestry that encourages improvement.
This is directed to Paul’s comment, couldn’t reply to him directly. Paul, my comment is more about how trash I am as a blogger – and that I know I don’t fit well here. Much as I love the place and the people, I don’t think I’m good at blogging at all. It’s a problem in me.
With respect to inspiration from other bloggers, yes. I come here for the relationships and the wondrous writing that is to be found. But I’m sorry, there is some really shit writing and whinging around too (I’m sure I’m guilty of that too). I don’t consider what you do to be at all novice, so I’m afraid I have, for whatever reason, made some distinctions in the quality of writing and what I want to put my time into reading. I think some blogging stuff is really second rate. I don’t know how to put it. I don’t want to slam these people, because as you say, they’ll get better I’m sure.
At the end of the day, the blogworld is probably a more appropriate place for a lot of people than it is for me. I understand that. I struggle with it, sure. At the end, the problem is not with blogging, it’s with me.
Trent: I’ve used exactly that reason to explain breaking up relationships – “It’s me”. I think you may have a different definition of blogging than I do. I think that your contributions to wordpress, when ever and whatever you choose to contribute, makes it a better place. I know it does for me. I enjoy your writing and learn a great deal from it and I am honored when you choose to share stories with us. I have no expectations of your frequency or length of posts. To give you an idea, I used your constructive criticism from my last fiction post when I wrote a post over at Mark’s this morning – I showed rather than told. If you have a chance, I’d be honored if you dropped by for a read http://markbialczak.com/2015/09/20/virgin-territory-the-beginning/comment-page-1/#comment-67837 Thank you.
You are too young to know how hands and wrists and fingers can be agonisingly painful and cramp into a spastic claw from over use. But I do see your point and should I ever get to that happy state will remember your words and try not to disappoint.
No doubt that’s true but it’s a small price to pay for living the dream, methinks.
What an absolute arse Wallace was that day. If you’re going to be horrible to people, don’t set the rep to do it! They’re like these million pound a film actors who do interviews saying how much they dislike acting.
The one-handed piss is common in England now too. It’s a new nadir of manners.
You should have taken the fish and put him on the grill!
I’ve done posts about whiny actors who are sent out on press junkets and spend their time complaining. It’s my favorite topic to bitch about and THAT’S saying something.
That fish was about as big as your thumb. He wouldn’t have made a proper appetizer. I thought all the color and textures were a nice contrast.
Yes, it was a great rant of yours that put me in mind of it.
Given its size, the fish definitely makes a better photograph than dinner centrepiece!
Very funny and I couldn’t agree more.
( are you going to see the Billy childish exhibition on in NY now? I would if I could )
I just kind of fell out of my chair a little bit. How do you know about Billy Childish? It’s not as if his name is out there amongst the populous, a’la Taylor Swift. Do you mean his exhibit at the Lehmann Maupin gallery, which I passed by yesterday but didn’t have time to stop, or does he have something at the NY Art Book Fair?
No, I meant the exhibition at Lehmann Maupin. I wish I lived in NY and could go , maybe you could go by proxy?! I’m not sure how I first heard about him, but I love some of his work and he’s an interesting character.
Saying he’s an interesting character is putting it mildly. It’s like accusing water of being wet!
He’s what some folk would call an english eccentric…I love his paintings, I suppose they’re a little derivative of Van Gogh but that’s probably why I love them ( and of course they’re much more affordable!) Are you going to go to the exhibition?
Probably. I have a few signed print pieces by him that were part of a few limited edition chapbooks. I couldn’t afford his paintings, though. I can only admire from afar.
Nor me, but well, at least you get to look in real life and that’s something for sure .
It certainly counts for a lot in my world. It’s that or longing.
Maybe you’ve heard this already, but this is probably most of the reasons why I love him….http://www.poetryarchive.org/poet/billy-childish?gclid=Cj0KEQjwj_SvBRC7k4DfkLHiuMABEiQAvPOaqX80MbAWzj57SAbaJVEqkW5PVNO2f1R2H_LzPFigge8aApQ58P8HAQ
I had NOT heard that! Thanks, very much. Pretty talented dude. Sometimes I worry he might be spreading himself too thin but so far it hasn’t been a problem.
This guy is not in the same ball park of talent as the authors or artists mentioned above, but he is the most famous in his field of work. His peers and followers are in the thousands. They call him the King, Richard Petty. He will sign his name ‘autograph’ until the last person goes home. Even if he is there for hours and hours. He has said that his fans directly/indirectly has contributed to his success by buying tickets to watch him perform, win races. Maybe some authors and artists could be more receptive to the people who admire them.
You will be published/credited someday. Too much writing talent on a variety of subjects not to be ignored.
THAT’S how it’s done. It seems like people in racing and country music stars are particularly attune to the fact that their fans are important. Taylor Swift, bless her, is good at it as well, It’s just good business. Do you know who amaze me? Musicians who do meet and greets after the show. I read Keith Richards’ bio and he said he doesn’t mind it one bit, although Jagger can’t stand it. I met Springsteen after a show. There’s a reception line of folks wanting to shake his hand. He plays 3 hours and then puts up with that nonsense. THAT’S how it’s done.
We had ‘meet and greet’ tickets for Donny and Marie this year in Las Vegas. They spend several minutes with you, pose for pictures with you and autograph for you after their very energetic show. All with a smile and a sincere appreciation for seeing their performance. It’s another side of the person you experience besides their talent.
Did you do a post about that? You must! And the trip to Vegas. That a rich vein of material, too.
Hello from Minnesota!
Just stopping by and saying hello!
I found you on Graham’s site!
Well, hello, Wendy. And welcome. Thanks for taking the time to read and leave a comment. Much obliged. You know how everyone has had that really big heartbreak when they were young? Well, my was with a girl named Wendy. It wasn’t you, of course, but the name fits. I wonder where she is today? I wonder if she’s happy?
I am so with you on the book signing. When you consider how many of us would shave off an eyebrow to get a book published, let alone have people who want to READ it, let alone have people willing to stand in line to get you to SIGN it….ingrates.
Right?! I mean, you would totally inscribe your book to me, wouldn’t you? In all seriousness, just about every author signing I’ve been to was an enjoyable experience. Sometimes, you can tell they don’t want to be there but they don’t take it out on you. But the rude ones make for a better blog post. Patti Smith next week. We’ll see how she does. Hope she’s nice.
I’m not particularly interested in getting books signed except for only one handful of living writers who I admire and continually reread. I don’t like obsessing over any artist or become fanatical about them; it’s their work that should be treasured and appreciated, not the artist’s persona. Though even as I write this I know that’s an incredibly false and inaccurate thing to say. Oh well.
What’s your opinion on DWF’s books? I enjoy his non fiction stuff, perhaps because they’re easier to get into than his fiction.
And we’re all waiting patiently for your book Mark, someday, somewhere, somehow.