Monday, May 24, 2010

What I Am Thinking About This Week

Today, as I begin changing everything I can think of from my old address to my new address, I am thinking of every place my information resides--banks, insurance, magazines and post office, credit cards, AAA, more and more, and more that I surely have forgotten. I'm also thinking about all this Facebook privacy stuff, how everyone is going crazy reacting to the idea that maybe your "information" has been compromised, and what is going to happen when your "information" is leaked to "outside sources." And, on top of that, I'm thinking of the census takers who I see walking around neighborhoods, with their clipboards and their open, hopeful faces. And also their begging and knocking on doors and talking to people who are too confused, or jaded, or suspicious to answer the questions. In short: I am thinking about all the ways in which we want and don't want to be known.

I am curious about the shock and surprise people are having, or are at least expressing, when they find out that Facebook, a free service, has shared their "information" with third party websites in order to, well, sell you things. I only ask: What did you expect from a website that asked you to enter all your "information" and then tracked every click of here and there? Also, What information are you trying to protect? Also, it only knows what you tell it.

I am thinking about one of my favorite things in New York, which is the moment when you put something on the curb that you don't need any more and then you go to get a Vietnamese ravioli, and when you come back, it's gone. I am thinking about how I love, love, love the efficiency of this. And I am even imagining what the object must feel when it is given a new home, and suddenly made useful once again. This makes me think of Naomi Shihab Nye's poem "Famous" where she says "I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous/or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular/but because it never forgot what it could do."

Right this moment, I am thinking: I should not have eaten the entire of bag of potato chips.

"Now you have to start letting it go," said Peter, my editor, after I turned in the final draft of my novel. I thought I had been doing that since 2005, which was when I originally finished it. (I say that--originally--because not only did Peter ask me to write a new scene or two, and to adjust a thing or two, I think I probably could have tinkered with it for another five years. It's true when they say you never finish a novel, you just stop.) But I hadn't really let it go. Do you ever? I tell you this about Peter firstly because he was right (as per usual) and also because I notice myself wondering how I am reflected in the work, and wondering how to let go of that. Just tonight, I handed a galley to a friend of a friend and thought "Oh, there I go, into his hand, into his head, and digested." (Of course, this is not really how we read books, and I know that, so I am aware that it's me and not the real thing that's happening.) What's interesting, and hard to deal with, apparently, is how I want to be known for the book, but also distance myself from the book. Oh, art, you are so complicated and wonderful and I love you!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New Occupations

  • Pie-rate
  • Phishmonger
  • Revengineer
  • Turban Planner
  • Cluckmaker
  • Investment Bonker
  • Flautaist
  • Buttler
  • S'morrier

Friday, May 07, 2010

Go Ahead and Pre-Order, Folks

You can now pre-order Yield from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell's, or you can even track down an independent bookstore in your area who will order and (probably) hold a copy just for you. They might even know you already and are interested in what smart people like yourself are choosing to read. I know I am interested in what you are reading.

Amazon also offers a Kindle Edition, for those of you who have too much going on to, you know, actually turn a page. (Actually, if someone out there has a Kindle, please buy the digital edition and use the Text-to-Speech feature for me--I want to hear the Kindle read it out loud....creepy!)

The web page for Yield has also been revamped quite a bit, with a downloadable excerpt, an interview with me about the book and my writing process, and the Reading Group Guide for those of you who want to read Yield together and talk about it--which I love. On the same page is also a map I created using scenes from the novel as well as my own remembrances of New York City, and also some of the settings and ideas that inspired the novel. If you are the type, join the Facebook group.

Once the book is here, you will be able to order signed copies directly from me. And if you, indeed are reading Yield in a book group, I am happy to make an appearance at one of your meetings either via phone or Skype--all you have to do is ask.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

from 1997, Part 3

This, the last entry in the journal:
1-2-98. 3:30pm.
Moved in somewhat. Boxes are still everywhere, everything impossible to find. I seem to need everything at once. I'm living in Chris's room until I have a bed. We watched the video of [our high school performance of Brecht's Caucasian] Chalk Circle.
The space is great, a little nervous, but excited. We had a good dinner at some cafe on St. Mark's, which I liked, I'd go there again. Blackened salmon with mashed sweet potatoes. Mom and Dad are doing well. They like the city.
Furniture shopping today. Sleeping here will be tough. I have all this noise outside my window to combat. Talked to everyone back home. No one is helping each other. I don't know what to say. I hope I can really be myself in this place. Like really be the best version of myself here. It's wonderful what's already been established. But Chris's room is a mess.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

from 1997, Part 2

More from the three pages of my journal. At this point, I'm still in the car with my parents, driving north from Chattanooga to TN.

12-31-97. 12:30pm.
Had a long conversation about T with my parents at a McDonald's somewhere outside of Asheville. Hearing them react shows me how good I've got it. I got my Dad to open the back of the car so I could get my CDs, and now I've got Shawn Colvin with me. Still snowing heavily, hopefully we won't run into any problem on the way. I feel good. I'm sure we'll be fine. I'm supposed to call T tonight. I hope he doesn't break anything or burn the house down.
We have almost 5 more hours of driving until we stop for the evening. That will put us into NY about 2:00pm on New Year's Day.
Just now remembering chemistry class and Becky in the 10th grade. And all the notes we passed. We had a good time.