Arrived in Cabo San Lucas yesterday afternoon. I froze all day getting here, so the thaw was welcome. We’re staying in a two-bedroom villa at The Westin, which looks toward the ocean. The coastal formations are dramatic and the surf is fierce. David wonders why no one’s in the water, but from what I see, a swimmer runs the risk of getting bashed into the rocks.
It’s difficult to slip into vacation mode when my mind’s focused elsewhere.
Old Buildings in North Texas is being released this month in the US. This is exciting and intimidating. I was welcomed with enthusiasm in the UK market. The British readers found the main character, Olivia, to be self-aware and self-absorbed, which she definitely is; but they sympathized with her predicament and enjoyed her sense of humor.
It’s an unusual book and if people knew about it I’m sure copies would fly from Amazon to Kindles by the thousands.
And on this matter, I’m adrift. Arcadia’s in-house publicist’s ideas are good, but they have yet to materialize. My agent said I should contact the independent bookstores in Austin and set up readings. She envisioned a whole scenario where I get a mediator (one of my friends, she said. In my whole life I’ve never had a friend I would impose upon in this way) to glowingly introduce the novel and me. Then I’d read an excerpt, after which the mediator would ask me questions, and then this mediator would invite the audience (How many people? Three? And how did they find out about this reading?) to discuss and ask questions.
If this were an organized event I’d be happy to do it. I’d stand where I was told to stand, do the reading, answer queries about the creative process, and sign the many books (and where do these books come from?) people were standing in line to buy. But it’s beginning to seem that not only am I expected to be the star of the event, I’m expected to organize it and populate it as well. I haven’t got a clue how to go about this.
David just got up. He has trouble getting the coffee maker going. Frustration with cursing. He figures it out. The waves outside are crashing on the beach, one of my favorite sounds. We’re going for a walk later. Then to the steam room. I slept in an awkward position and woke up with a crick in my neck, so I’m hoping the heat will relax the kink.
This afternoon, reading by the pool. What am I reading? A guilty pleasure. I’ll never in a million admit that I read this author.
After OBiNT was published, it was surprising how many friends and strangers worriedly asked about my personal experience with drug addiction.
Here’s one response I gave:
“I haven’t ever been addicted, but I sympathize because I form habits, which hound me to the point of obsession. Back when I smoked cigarettes I’d check my purse for my pack at least five times before allowing myself to walk out the door. And these days, I don’t feel comfortable unless the wine rack is full.”
To a good friend who should know better, another response:
“Do you think I’m incapable of imagining drug addiction without actually having gone through it? I’m a fiction writer. Writing about things I know nothing about is what I do!”
My experience with drugs is limited to smoking pot in high school and college. Surprisingly, considering that it was illegal then as it still is in Texas, the thought of getting caught was not a deterrent. In every other aspect I was the consummate goodie-goodie; but, when it came to marijuana, in a decision contrary to my values, I chose to ignore the law because it was stupid. And now, as its legitimacy spreads from state to state, my heart hurts for people who were born too early. Lives were ruined because of pot.
Oh. I see that Curtis, my oldest, has sent me an article listing five cool bookstores in Austin. Two look suitable for a reading. The others—one presents itself as a trendy new-style bookstore, but it’s really an old-fashioned book mobile; another is dedicated exclusively to science fiction and fantasy; and a third is only interested in selling books that link politics to conspiracy theories. Huh.
The publicist in the UK has suggested that, because of the addiction aspect of the book, I write a posting about drugs in the US. So I look up statistics and try to write an informative piece, but my heart isn’t in it. I’m not Fareed Zakaria, and no one wants to know what a fiction writer from Texas has to say about this critical issue.
I do have a rather simple opinion, which is that as a population we’re both impatient and gullible. If we’ve got a pain or a twinge, we take a pill. I pop two Ibuprofen every morning. Just because.
And if the television tells me I might have inflammatory bowel disease or thyroid cancer, I take it seriously. If someone has asthma and there’s an advertisement for a new medication claiming to work better than what they’re currently taking, they run to the doctor and demand that drug.
The other day I counted six one-after-the-other pharmaceutical commercials.
I know four people who have been on anti-depressants for years. Tragic things happen, but doesn’t it make more sense to join a support group instead of taking pills forever? And isn’t it healthier to process painful emotions in a natural state rather than an artificial one?
Olivia, the main character in Old Buildings in North Texas, is a product of this drug culture. All her friends used, so she did, too. She was raised to be the best she could be. She was held to a high standard. Her mother discouraged detours and didn’t understand failure. Yet somehow, with her mother’s voice always in her head, and while living her successful professional life, Olivia succumbed to addiction. Rehab was a humiliating backward step, which she handled with determination and equanimity.
And OBiNT is funny, too. Who wouldn’t want to read a comedy about addiction recovery? It’s just a question of getting that lovely book cover in the public eye . . .
Breakfast is delicious—a buffet. I’ll make a list: fruit, pancakes and waffles, cold meats and cheeses (Brie!), poached eggs, potatoes, yogurt, sausage, cereals, pastries; and an omelet bar, too!
Off for our beach walk.