A few pics, courtesy of The Florence Writers Facebook page, to counter a grey Monday morning. Thanks to Mundy and St. Mark’s English Church for hosting; to the lovely, attentive group who asked great questions; to Lori for a comprehensive and generous introduction; and to Bob for the photos.
This is where I’ll be spending some time over the next few years, novelling, theorising, and generally oiling the brain cells. Such a gorgeous campus!
Book announcements are gratifying because they give a sense of completion to the thing (even if that’s not strictly the case, since edits are ongoing). The other handy aspect of a press release is that it explains what the book is about in a nice, succinct paragraph, something which feels very far away for most, if not the entire, writing process. So, straight from The Bookseller:
A Difficult History follows three women at different stages of their lives: Jasmine, a female boxer who falls foul of a ban on the sport in 1980s Ireland; a gynaecologist in present-day Dublin, who is increasingly frustrated by the constitutional ban on abortion; and Ali, in Maryland, whose mother has recently died and escapes from the grandparents she didn’t know she had. (The Bookseller)
And the ‘elevator pitch’: A Difficult History is about “running away, growing up and finding out who you are”.
Dollymount was in a mellow mood last night, as was I as I reflected that there was but one more day of school holidays left. Over the years I’ve learned — the hard way that I do all my learning — that I’ll get nothing done for the duration, and that the tv and computer are not my enemy. But I’m looking forward to getting back to work. First on the agenda will be edits on novel two, A Difficult History. Then there’s a residency in Florence to look forward to. There’s a new novel in progress. There’s an itch to write some non-fiction.
Let me count the ways.
Like most writers at some point do, I’ve been thinking about the publicity side of writing. For Generation, I was delighted to do the events the publisher lined up leading up to and around publication, and a few others. It was fun meeting readers and other authors and talking shop. But – there it is – I quickly realised that going to events takes up a lot of time, time which might well be better spent writing, or ruminating, or cleaning the house, or building things with lego. It’s also exciting, in the sense of stirring one up, which is not, in my experience, conducive to reflective work.
How much time and effort does an author need to put in to publicity? Sometimes a book is so heavily promoted that it just turns me off. Or, I succumb, only to discover that it doesn’t nearly live up to the hype, which makes me resentful, and I don’t want my books to fall into this category. But I’m too new at this game to know whether it’s ok to sit back from all that busy self-promotion, or not. How much difference does it make to book sales? Does it help one’s author profile, whatever that is, and does it matter, and to whom? Is it just an ego thing – I’m on a stage, look at me, listen to me? Or, does it make all the difference to the public’s perception of the book? I’ve signed up for a Promoting Your Book day at the Irish Writers’ Centre because I want to hear others’ thoughts on these questions.
What I do know is that book promotion is not the most important aspect of writing. I haven’t read read James Kelman (I plan to start with his new one, Dirt Road, once I get over my pique for not being the one who came up with the idea of writing about immigrants in the American South featuring Zydeco music), but I’ll give him the last word on the subject:
Balancing this, his young central character Murdo performs music as a collaborative act. Never competing for applause or chasing monetary reward. Might this be his (Kelman’s) own creative manifesto? “Well that’s a good way of putting it, as a creative manifesto.” Then he tells a story. “There’s a great quotation by a Texas musician. He’s asked why he’s never made any dough – and he’s a good name, this guy – his response to the question of why he’s still scrabbling around, he said what he’d come to realise was, ‘I want to live my life doing this.’” There is a pause. “That’s how it equates for myself.”’ (From Alan Bett’s The Skinny interview)
“By the side of the everlasting Why there is a Yes–a transitory Yes if you like, but a Yes.” E.M. Forster
My big news is that I’ll be off to Florence in October as Irish Writers’ Centre/St. Mark’s writer in residence, and I am absolutely thrilled, and hugely looking forward to meeting the Florence Writers.
I’ve had a thing about Florence for a long time, as Mr. Neil Hegarty astutely sniffed out. . .
That innocent-abroad ship sailed a long time ago, but the eternal yes never quite left me, so, like Charlotte Bartlett, I’ll be packing up my mackintosh squares and taking myself to Florence, to a view I’ve yet to experience, but what a room!