Saturday, April 17, 2010

I'm Back in the Saddle...

... again. As the old song says. I felt a bit rusty last night, speaking for the first time in a few weeks at a gathering of, mostly, artists in a Beverly Hills studio. Luckily for me, there were plenty of glasses of wine passed around before I spoke, and the atmosphere was friendly and well-disposed! This afternoon, I speak to a group in a former hanger at the Santa Monica Airport which has been converted to accommodate a good number of artists' studios; and next week, I head for Santa Barbara, with engagements at UCSB's College of Creative Studies on Tuesday and, on Wednesday, at the Contemporary Arts Forum. So, if you happen to be in one of those locations, I'd be happy if you were to consider stopping by...

This is really the first time in my relatively long publishing career that I have devoted so much energy to the post-publication work in connection with a book. I have, true enough, done readings before, from my early books of poems; and book-signing tours, largely local, for my two novels. I discovered long ago that the writing is the easy part of being a writer. That the hard part comes afterwards, in finding the agent, the editor, the publisher...; and then, after the book is published, to bring it to the attention of potential readers, because even the large publishing houses do little for their authors--unless they happen to have a prior track record of financial return, like John Grisham, or celebrity, like Sarah Palin. If there are profits involved, that's a different story. For most of their "mid-list" publications, however, it's a matter of throwing them all up against the wall, to see what sticks.

So it's commonly understood, these days, that the author is largely responsible for his or her baby, after birth. And it seems that this particular baby, Persist, is close to my heart--otherwise why would I be so persistent in working at its promotion? Why this book, among others? Because it says so much about who I am, and how I have chosen to live my life. Because it describes those places in which I feel closest to other writers, other artists, who share a common predicament and must each find a way to face it, in their own way, if they are to remain authentic to the person they know themselves to be. Because my journey, as a writer, has led me through so many byways and so many obstacles, and persistence has often come hard.

Perhaps, too, it's because the response I have begun to sense feels so heartfelt and genuine. Creative people of all kinds know exactly what I'm talking about--people in all media, of all ages, at many different stages along their own path. They see something of themselves in what I have written, and respond with recognition and appreciation. That's truly gratifying, to feel that I'm speaking to people who really want to hear what I have to say. What could be better, for a writer?

So here I am, doing everything I can think of to help the book along. Put simply, I believe in it. And it's great to feel its momentum, to know that it's going well.


CHI SPHERE said...

Keep stumping Peter for the smallest ripples radiating out from multiple points intersect in conversations that carry the written word.

I was in a market in LA's Chinatown looking for fresh baby Bok Choy and overheard a painter and another artist talking about your book the chapter on No, the dialogue on boundaries and the chapter on Discipline which kept me spying to hear their candid back and forth about their struggles and successes from day to day with art in life.

When I overhear some Chinese artists in Hong Kong
talking about your book in an American Bistro I'll
text you Peter.

stephen said...

You said it Peter. Flogging a new book these days sometimes feels like flogging a dead horse. There's no choice but to keep on keeping on. One blog at a time, one ear at a time, word-of mouth grows. Slowly, The Novice is being picked up, and the same must be happening for your wise book. I'm as frustrated and determined as you — and preaching to the preacher!
'Persist' says it all....