Tuesday, May 7, 2013

book deals and the nomadic author: letter from shaw island


Dear you,

It is May, and WILD AWAKE is coming out in three weeks. Techie Boyfriend and I have repaired to a campsite in the woods, which is possibly the world's least convenient place from which to launch a novel, but illuminating in its own way.

As I write this, my body is here in this driftwood shack, with a kerosene lantern burning over my shoulder and Techie Boyfriend playing a broken accordion in the twilight, but I'm aware of this other Hilary, a Monopoly-piece extension of myself, moving around the game board of publishing with all of the tumultuous joys and stresses that entails (one roll lands the coveted "You have won $10 in a beauty pageant," and on the next roll it's "Postage fees for over-ambitious ARC mailing; pay $50 to Community Chest.")



I feel a strange tension between those two realities—the one in which I'm a forest creature living a three-mile bike ride from the nearest electrical outlet, and the one in which I'm a person with a blog, a twitter account, and a calendar slowly but surely filling up with Real Actual Author Events in places like Chicago and Boston. Both realities excite me, and balancing the two is going to be an interesting dance. I'm especially grateful to have known many of you, oh readers of this blog, for a pretty long time now—I feel like I can write you these strange little letters and you will understand.

I am typing up this letter on my laptop, sitting at that three-mile electrical outlet in the shade. This morning I found a bird's nest with four tiny speckled eggs inside, and saw calypso orchids growing on the forest floor. I'm glad to live in a world where both are possible, the electrical outlet and the four speckled eggs. And although I still get worried sometimes that I'll never find the right balance between my publishing life and my forest one, I think there's something to be learned from watching your Monopoly piece by kerosene lantern.

Sincerely,


Hilary


14 comments:

  1. Philip Roth once said the best place to be when one's book comes out is behind the Iron Curtain, but I bet he'd enjoy your camp much more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. the Iron Curtain sounds cold! he should come to the shaw camp—we have extra sleeping bags :)

      Delete
  2. It's not where you're at, it's where your head's at.

    Sounds like you're striking the balance you need for yourself right now. Enjoy the whirlwind author tour!


    -- Tom

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks, Tom! it won't be a whirlwind, really...more like a gentle breeze. but that's how I like it :)

      Delete
  3. You are all those people, no? Even Techie Boyfriend is a few folks at once, being so techie and melting into the accordion in a log cabin.
    Just this- please say if you have an out-house. I always wondered how one of these does not turn a contemporary person off of the Simple Life.

    Your novel is already a pre-release smash. You can let it do a bit of the running in the city all by itself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh Mirka, of course it has an out-house! and in fact, I vastly prefer out-houses to in-houses. the fresh air! the view! ours is at the top of a cliff. heaven.

      Delete
  4. That's so interesting that you've lived in several different places. Maybe you should write a memoir about what's that like, and include some of these pictures in the book. Where in Chicago are your author events going to be? In the suburbs or in the city?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hello, neurotic workaholic! I did a calculation a little while ago, and it seems that I live in approximately 4 places per year. this is not planned—it just sort of happens :)

      I am mostly going to be cruising around at ALA, but might have other events TBD. I will keep you posted!

      Delete
  5. I don't have too much to add other than - yes. These letters you write to us are full of dappled light.

    ReplyDelete
  6. hello Helen! I get your posts by e-mail, such a lovely stream :) I hope you make it over here some day—I think you would love it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I tried to do the same with yours a wee while ago, but couldn't figure it out. Not very techie. But I always visit when I see your links on twitter.

      I really hope I can go off into some of the wild places you've been. I've not seen nearly enough of the beauty of America.

      Delete
  7. Wifi & forest! I'm envious. The orchid is beautiful & I'd love to sleep in the cabin. The 3 mile bike trek would shift some weight. 4 places/year. Wow. I'll be travelling to 10+ places this year & living with hosts for a week to a fortnight each trip, but I only have one home. It's cool & strange at times. Happy release day. It will be here soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks Simon! your trip sounds like fun...I love couchsurfing here and there for a couple weeks at a time. the cabin is lovely but you can't be afraid of mice ;)

      Delete
  8. Did you know that the ferry landing at Shaw used to be operated by a handful of franciscan nuns who lived there? I think that is no longer true, but I visited when they did that work there, in their brown habits, capable and generous.
    Your posts are like wonderful postcards! Happy travels.

    ReplyDelete