Old Moon

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Finding the Label

One of the labels I used for this blog overall is "aging." Another is "the writing life." It's too bad to be repetitious, and no blogger wants to bore possible readers, but it's so difficult to imagine what label would draw a stranger in. I've been reading John Updike's collection of short stories that are the last he wrote. Let me suggest the book, My Father's Tears and Other Stories to anyone interested in either or both labels. You can read my review next month on Senior Women Web.

As Junot Diaz said in a recent interview, there is no better preparation and continuing exercise for a writer than reading. It would be a challenge to get through all the varied collection of everything from criticism to fiction to poetry of someone as prolific as Updike, but I'd bet money that trying would be worth it for anyone with authorial aspirations.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Where Should an Epitaph Be Found?

At the risk of more self-exposure than most people will be interested in, I offer the following musing in the hope that it might make some readers consider the subject in relation to personal experience--not just of loss, but also of gratitude for the living.

Does anyone give much thought to epitaphs, other than those noted for their humor or irony? The definition does not apply solely to words on a tombstone; it includes other written memorials. However, it occurred to me the other day that these reminders may be falling out of fashion, in part because of the decline in traditional burials. Cremation so often concludes with a scattering of ashes rather than the interment of them. The reasons for choosing this means of putting a period at the end of a life are too valid for argument in my view, yet I find myself wishing for something left behind, even if nothing corporeal remains.

I've been trying to think of something suitable for my life's companion that might at least suggest to someone who didn't know him what kind of man he was, without running to many paragraphs or to wording that would strike a stranger as fulsome.

From the first day I met him, I was aware that this was true without appreciating it properly for many months. By the time he was gone, I had become so accustomed to his selflessness and his sense of duty, they became a given in my life, which was so embedded with his that his absence leaves me feeling most of the time as though I see a stranger in the mirror and am surprised that I don't look emaciated.

Anecdotes that illustrate this characteristic would fill a notebook. If I could find the right place to put these words, I might hope that his children and their children would use them as a reminder, and even as a source of inspiration.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Promotion How-to?

Well, at last the publisher has told me Maiden Run is to be put into print. Since I don't know a single soul who reads books or magazines with a hand-held device, that sounds like good news. Yet it leads straight back to the promotion bugaboo. For me, with little or no tendency toward exhibitionism and relatively little hubris, this is the worst part.

I tried to set up a Facebook page once, the result of which was that the name of one of my sons popped up instantly, and I have no idea what to do next. Twitter's word-count restrictions make it seem an unlikely place to get noticed if you can't at least pretend to fit your work into one of the most popular genres. "Horror, suspense, sex, thrills..." just won't be a fair come-on for my old fashioned literary/contemporary orphans.

A writer friend sent me the Who Hub link, (see sidebar) which allows one to speak for oneself. There are some very good questions for your interview, and I found them challenging and interesting to try to answer. I recommend it.

The temptation is to zap off a credit card number and buy some of the advertised books on "marketing" your literary output. Summaries seem to indicate that they pretty much all say the same things, and that we've all heard them numberless times before. For instance, the suggestion that any book store in your town or your hometown newspaper will both be happy if not eager to help you is, for me in the town where I reside, laughable. I've never succeeded in getting a press release printed, nor even in persuading the local bookseller to stock a POD volume. She won't consider consignment, and even refuses to order for a customer who asks for my book. I have no reason to think she'll change her stance for a second one.

My best bet (pathetic though the results usually are) is the local public library, which is happy to give me an afternoon for a reading and talk. The last one I did sold, I think, one book. Nevertheless, if you don't live in a big city, consider that venue.

It seems to me that what we need is lessons in how to choose "key words." There must be a special trick to that. The second best idea may be to join the bloggers workshop being started up by Pat Workman. Look her up at patworkman@yahoo.com.