Saturday, May 28, 2005

Blogging a book

Kay Day is doing something remarkable: creating a book on her blog. She has a story to tell about an incarcerated young man who hasn't been given a fair deal, and she just can't wait for the traditional print publishing process to get it out. Her blog, One Night for Life, tells of 18-year-old Taylor Wells' crime and punishment is double-layered: the story of a young man unfairly sentenced and of a writer, a complete stranger to Taylor, who is compelled to take up his story and his cause.

How many others will elect to self-publish in this immediate way? There's something selfless about the idea, in the same way that political bloggers have changed the face of journalism without even thinking about how/whether they'll be compensated for their labors.

It gets you thinking about the value of writing, and the way as a society we value it. Or don't.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Books arrived

There they were on the doorstep: two small cartons. I couldn't remember having ordered anything, so I opened them later, after taking a walk. Shirts for David, I thought, or a special order of vitamins I had a mental lapse about having requested. Or, could I really have gone that nuts at Amazon as to require two cartons of stuff that I will now regret when the little envelope with my Visa bill arrives?

And then I opened the first one with the scissors -- thank heavens carefully -- and found:

Femme au chapeau

Two stacks of them, covers gleaming with an intense strawberry color the web site reproduction doesn't do justice to. My first thought was: I'm not ready.

I had forgotten -- blame the hay fever -- that when they said my book would be published and copies arrive on my doorstep on a certain date, that they were relying on the USPS to ship them -- an organization notoriously date-cavalier. I had been subliminally prepared for the publication date to be stalled once again, but not for the books to arrive early. Naturally, I went into shock and had to sip warm, intoxicating things all evening while trying to figure out if I could keep the secret even from my spouse. They weren't supposed to be here until Thursday.

As if by Thursday I would be magically prepared to be the gracious author of the gracious book, ready to make appearances, send out all the announcements, do the readings (get the readings!), remember exactly how many poems in exactly how many pages and all the charming anecdotes about writing them, as well as the snippets appropriate to personally inscribing them with the kind of flair that makes the book's owner leave it out on the coffee table, hoping someone will open it and see the dazzling personalization ...

No pressure. Just the publisher giving me a number of books that have to sell this year, or they'll drop the book. I didn't even have the nerve to blog about it until now. I needed a whole weekend to find my SuperPoet costume and mask, the cute little Femme au chapeau color-coordinated tote bag in which to now carry them around like Janie Appleseed, or Coleman Barks at a poetry festival.

Publication is what we all long for; publication is wonderfully terrifying. I'm sure by next week I'll have the matching bookmarks and the handy poem-snippets memorized. Email me if you want one (it comes with a book).