Going On The Account: Second Thoughts and Considerations

So this morning, the New York Times has a piece about a business that books authors for your book group.  You can now hold a book group around a certain writer’s work, and if you want something special, the writer of the work can be booked to attend for a few bucks.


My first thought was to turn on the snark and write about it, “Hey, if you need live entertainment, I come cheep; I’ll do your room for cab fare and an open bar.”  Joke told, rim shot delivered, move on.


But you know, there’s more than a punchline that can come out of this.  It’s nice that there’s an effort out there to get writers and readers in the same room, because frankly the whole loneliness-of-writing trope does not come out of nothing.  There is a certain isolation that’s required, a need for space to allow a tortured psyche to run around nude in, bouncing off the walls like a club kid at the Limelight back in the 90s.  It’s not easy to achieve, especially in an apartment in New York (particularly mine), and sometimes you can go overboard trying to get that; yes, am looking right at you, JD…


But really, is that a good thing all the time?  How well do writers fare if they lose touch with their audience entirely?


And what are the good options to keep that connection going?  Sure, the Internet has allowed some dialog, and maybe it is a step above post cards and letters, but the form still encourages a bit of a separation between the two sides that’s only slightly above only reading the finished work.  Not every book store is able to host every writer with a book to offer, and not a lot of businesses are in the “meet the author” business.  They might do for incidental greets you organize on the side, but how much craft can you really discuss someplace where there’s an implied two drink minimum, where half the place wants the Rangers game on?   And that’s among the more “slow crowd friendly” places; places like a certain McDonalds in Queens would be even less likely to want to support an author outreach program, no matter how much food you buy…


And try as I might, I can’t seem to make a meaningful connection at a convention, no matter what side of the table I’m on.  Your encounter is one of a whole host of happenings going on at the site all weekend, and the writer or the reader or even both end up pressed to move on from there and not be able to make the most of the connection.  Unless both parties are there specifically for that meeting, there’s too much to do to allow for anything to take place.


About the only fair chance for making such a connection is at a party, which is a horrible long shot.  When most writers throw a party, they usually end up surrounded with more writers, which means people who are trying to kick back don’t want to bring their work with them and talk about how so-and-so’s messing things up for them.  And let’s be honest, most of the parties hosted by non-writers, they don’t think they need to go out of the way to invite a writer.  I keep hoping that someday, when somebody says they booked a clown for their party, that they mean they got someone who recently placed on the bestseller list, but…


So the idea of a reading group with a writer appearing to talk about the work?  Love to see more of that.  I think most writers if asked would jump at the chance to show up and talk about the work.  A few hours in a relaxed environment, to discuss what went into the work, where the writer was (physically and otherwise) when it was written; sounds perfect.


And the feedback; even if the crowd wants to hang me, I’d still go.  I was in a book group where I had a few very choice things to say about Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America; had Mr. Roth been there, I’d have been open about my issues, and unafraid to let him know what I thought.  And were he to turn around and insert in his next work a character who’s obnoxious, overbearing, and maybe a little full of himself as he gives minutae about history and causality, hey, part of the process!


So yes, I’m all for having book groups where you invite the writer if you can.  (And no, I don’t care how good your interpretation of William Shakespeare as a character is, you do not get an invite!  Away with thee, Faux Shakespeare!)  I have a book group I show up for occasionally, the same way the Spectre used to pal around a few times with the Justice League a few reboots ago, which has had the pleasure of being able to invite the writer to attend the reaction to the book.  And I have two books out there, and a few short stories which since last I talked about them have so far remained without a good home, which I would love to discuss should anyone be willing to put up with have me.


Like I said, cab fare and an open bar, though I am negotiable…


POST SCRIPT: And in the midst of trying to post this, there were a few oibleagaidi teaghlaigh that came up where the subject of “businesses in the “meet the author” business” came up.  And apparently, there is a place out there that may be more open to hosting a writer than I had suggested places like that might be.

Open enough that, Fortuna willing,  there might be something to say about regarding the future…

One thought on “Going On The Account: Second Thoughts and Considerations

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s