Today is the first anniversary of the publication of my novel WHAT IT WAS LIKE, and I couldn't be happier. It's been a great year. People like my book – not everybody – but most people. (A 450-page novel about obsessive love isn't for everyone.) I've gotten wonderful responses from many, many readers I've never met. The book has struck a chord in people – people who remember what tormented young love is like – and it continues to resound. I got some great reviews, and my publisher can't wait to publish my next one.
I had a great reading at Book Soup in Hollywood – what my daughter The Flower called a "George Bailey" moment. It was a perfect metaphor, considering the homage to the famous Frank Capra movie in my book: the lovers' (false) idyllic rendez-vous spot is called "Bailey's."
Publication of the book has also led me into the world of social media: blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. It is a new world for me, but it is the real world for contemporary authors, and I learned quickly that I must participate. And it's proven to be a lot of fun.
I spend a lot of time alone in my room writing, and I like to send things out there to connect with people. Since the publication of WHAT IT WAS LIKE, I've put up SEVENTY-SIX blogs. I've been trying to do two a week – Tuesdays and Fridays -- but I lost some days for vacation, etc. Blogging has been a lot of frantic fun: trying to decide on topics that current-and-potential WHAT IT WAS LIKE readers might like.
I blog to connect with people. To start a conversation about lots of different things, to give my opinion and solicit yours. I want to keep a fresh dialogue going with readers of WHAT IT WAS LIKE and meet new readers who might like to read my next book. But I see now I have to spend more time on the next book. My level of care and concern for my novel-writing is intense, and this blogging turned out to be pretty intense too. I try to entertain my blog followers and not toss it off. I take care with these blogs. That's my problem: I take too much care!
Social media goes by daily. I try not to add to the chatter, but add to the conversation. My novel-writing is forever (I hope), or however long the planet lasts. I have to be beyond careful with every word I write in my books, even in a first draft, or especially in a first draft. Blogging is close to Truman Capote's famous put-down of Jack Kerouac: "That's not writing; that's typing."
We live in a surface- and short-attention-span age, and I write long, detailed novels. But I feel that everyone can see the surface of the world: it's the responsibility of the novel writer to get below the surface – and go as deep as one can. Life is detail, and that is what the novel reveals best of all.)
This year, I've always felt like I would be disappointing my growing community and myself if I didn't write the best blog that I could; and while they are fun to write and I like spreading my name, my opinions, my favorite things, my concerns -- and yes, my "brand" -- they are a distraction from my main job, my serious job: finishing my new novel. I'm about 4/5 through the first draft – and then, of course, the "real" work begins.
So in order to celebrate the first anniversary of WHAT IT WAS LIKE – and to hasten the completion of the next novel – I've decided to change, for the time being, to a ONCE-A-WEEK blog.
It will help me get the new one finished faster. And that's my main obsession in life now. Really. I'll go back to twice-a-week blogging sometime, but not for a while.
This new novel is burning a hole in my brain. I have to let it out. You'll still hear from me on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and once a week on my blog.
And I'm still a long way from "finishing" this new novel: first draft + first rewrite. Then I'll show it to people, and then I'll have changes to make from their comments. I wish I were a faster writer, but I'm not.
But I'm happy with the way that WHAT IT WAS LIKE came out ... and I'm determined to make the new one better. (The new one already is better, and it's not even finished.)
And that will cinch the deal.