Saturday, March 26, 2011

spring hopes eternally

Earlier this week I saw my first golden crocuses and dainty snowdrops and ran home to rake up the leaf mulch in an ecstasy of anticipation. Two days later it snowed. Not a dainty, lace-doilies-floating-down-on-a-zephyr kind of snow, but an aspiring blizzard. I replaced the rake with a shovel.

It's important to have the right tools for the job, whatever the job is. But what kind of a job is a blog, I wonder?

I began writing this back when my first novel was coming out, because I was assured by those in the know that I needed "an Internet presence." Then I made myself a web-site, for the same reason. Was the blog thereby rendered redundant? Not really, because the website is a kind of central clearing house of SG-related data, whereas the blog purported to be more immediate: a kind of diary of idiosyncratic ramblings intended to create a personal relationship with potential readers so that they would like me and want to (ahem) buy my books. Because let's be honest, I am a writer.

However, even though maintaining this blog is a kind of writing, it is not the kind I prefer to do, and takes me away from my real work -- even if all that real work consists of is wrestling with commas or doing arcane and ultimately irrelevant research. In addition, I like you, whoever you are, but I don't even know you! And if I don't have enough time to visit my real friends, why should I spend it flirting with strangers in cyber-space?

Because that is how you cultivate readers, according to My Agent -- and everybody else's. Because if you can't find SUSAN GLICKMAN in flashing disco lights when you are aimlessly trolling the net to avoid doing your taxes (which you should be doing, right about now, by the way) then you won't remember my name the next time you have to suggest a book for your book club to read, or buy a present for your mother-in-law's birthday, or borrow something from the library to read whilst working out at the gym. Or so the thinking goes.

I would really like to know if anybody ever DOES beg borrow or buy a book because they read someone's blog and thought the font that person chose was dead sexy. Am I wasting my time here? Can I go back to hunting for errant commas? Or should I try to be wittier, smarter, altogether more appealing and hope that I can seduce someone into giving my books a read?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Nice interview with me on another site!

What is your favourite thing about writing?

My favourite thing about writing fiction is the sensation, when it’s going well, of inhabiting another world and other bodies; of living more than one life. It’s exhilarating and terrifying because you have no idea where you are going or how long it will last. My favourite thing about writing poetry is the sensation, when it’s going well, of making something fine; finer than I’d ever hoped I could. In the best of all possible worlds, both these sensations happen simultaneously and that, right there, is my reason for living.

But there are lots of other things I love about writing that keep me going even when I’m not in the zone. I love sharpening pencils, for example. I love having an excuse to make endless cups of tea. I love going for walks with my dog Toby because we both need a break from sitting, for God’s sake, and then finding that the impasse is resolved after about a half an hour of chasing squirrels and admiring my neighbours’ gardens. I love not needing an excuse to buy more books. I love not having to dress up to go to work. I love having articulate friends. I love writing on napkins in caf├ęs and on in little notebooks on trains. I love doing cryptic crossword puzzles and playing Scrabble and reading Roget’s Thesaurus and calling such activities “research.”

Good thing you didn’t ask me what I don’t like about writing however, because there are just as many things I could list there! For instance, I don’t love that look on people’s faces when they ask you what you do and you say you’re a writer and they want to know if you’re famous because of course any good writer would be famous, right? I don’t like the loneliness, and the endless waiting when you send stuff out, and the lack of money. But you didn’t ask, so I won’t answer.

What do you think readers would be most surprised to learn about you?

I’m really funny. But so far that hasn’t made it into my books. I don’t know why. It may be that my humour is a defense against feeling the kinds of things I let myself feel in my writing. Or it may be that my humour is just too improvisational to merit transcription.