Archive for May, 2010
I’m going to keep posting, but this blog is going to morph slightly over the course of the coming week.
This is because I e-mailed my incredible Web designer and made caveman noises that meant “make my blog look … bloggier.” Basically I wanted her to junk up the margins — which she has so meticulously kept pristine over the lifetime of this site — with the usual stuff like archives and a bio and a twitter feed, etc., because more people have been coming in directly to this page, so it needs to look more like a landing page. So she’s doing that with her customary alacrity.
I will post later today. In the meantime here’s my Time piece about the fight over Stieg Larsson’s inheritance. It used to be 3,000 words long but ran at about 1,400. So assume it was the clever stuff that got cut out.
A lot of people take anti-depressants. A lot of writers take them. But not a lot of people talk about it. Or at least few enough that I was pretty struck when the Penny Arcade guys talked about their experience with Lexapro. I was struck enough that I thought maybe I should talk about my history with anti-depressants.
(At some future time I will do a post that tries to explain my obsession with Penny Arcade. But not now.)
Let me first say for the record: I held out. I did not want to be the dude in the Woody Allen movie who’s always talking about his shrink, and I did not want to be the dude who needs drugs to deal with reality. I wanted to be some other dude. Why, I don’t know. Because it wasn’t great being that other dude. It was un-great enough that when I was 35 I figured I’d had about as much anxiety and depression as I was interested in generic anti anxiety pills having. So I went into therapy.
Actually I’m stabbing at you from a coffee shop in beautiful rainy Ann Arbor, where I went to film one of these. I ran around a Borders babbling like an idiot while a nice man followed me with a video camera.
I do that a lot anyway. But there isn’t usually a cameraman there. I will post the results when they’re ready, except if they’re shameful, in which case I’ll disavow them.
So because I am an author, I have to have a ‘social media strategy,’ which is one reason I started this blog. Though I’ll tell you a weird thing: I fricking love this blog, and it is getting more and more difficult to pry myself away from it. I also tweet.
So far so good. But now I realize I need to deal w/ Facebook, too. So I’ve started paying attention to my Facebook profile. And I set up a Facebook fan page. For myself. Which felt weird, but I powered through it anyway.
And see, this is where it all started falling apart. There was already a Facebook page for me. It was nice — it flowed in any status updates that mention me, including my own, and my Wikipedia entry buy zithromax online overnight shipping (which I hate, but haven’t edited so when I die I can still get into WikiHeaven) — but I couldn’t figure out who created it. Or maybe it spontaneously generated itself.
So I started a new one. But it doesn’t pick up status updates about or by me. In fact it looks crappy and has no fans. Now I’m asking myself, as I do every day, why can I not be more like Neil Gaiman and Patrick Rothfuss? And not just, you know, the hair. Though that would be a start.
There was a time in my life when I wanted to be a rock star. That time started at about age 8. It went on for many years. Actually it may not be over yet.
I may not be a rock star — may, I stress, may — but I am going on tour. The paperback release of The Magicians is at the end of May, and I’ll be visiting bookstores all over the country and reading and signing and talking. This will go on for a couple of weeks. I have painstakingly entered the dates in the Events section of this site, with hardly any bad HTML, which took me about an hour. So if you don’t go look at it now, and see if there’s an event near you, that’s an hour of my life wasted, that I’ll never get back. Do you want that on your conscience?
I’ve written a new piece just for the tour, which won’t be appearing in print, so this is your only chance to hear it. (It’s set in the Magicians universe, but it’s not about Quentin.) My paperback publisher — their name is Plume — is also printing up a thousand copies of a map of Fillory, poster-size, full-color, and I’ll be giving them away. They’re pretty cool, and I’m pretty sure they’re a one-off — I don’t think they’ll be making more. So it’s now or never.
[ ETUEZZFXFERR ]
The other night — Tuesday night — I went to the Time 100 party, which is something that happens every year. I have to go, because they need people from Time to make nice with celebs and prominent advertising clients. Not necessarily in that order.
But I would have gone anyway, because there are a lot of interesting people there. Jerry Holkins and Robert Khoo from Penny Arcade were there. At dinner I sat next to Lizzie Skurnick and Suzanne Collins, which is pretty much my idea of a good time. Prince played, which was cool until he got bored and kind of wandered away. Bill Clinton, Martha Stewart, Judd Apatow, Sarah Palin, Ashton Kutcher, Taylor Swift, etc. were there too. I did not talk to them.
Plus I finally own a tux and that and the National Book Awards are the only black tie events I ever get invited to.
But it made me think that for a person like me — by which I mean a person with a huge amount of poorly concealed social anxiety — I’ve met a weirdly large number of celebrities.
It happens to a lot of people. There’s a certain period in a writer’s career when your editors send you out on a ton of celebrity journalism stories. It’s just a thing that happens. When you write about anything related to the arts, and you’re too senior to sit back at the office and check facts all day, but you’re not senior enough to sit back at the office and bank checks all day, you get sent out to do celebrity interviews.
In fact there was a period of about a year when I wrote Time magazine’s celebrity news page on a weekly basis. That seems so weird now that it’s hard to believe it happened in our Earth prime timeline, and not in some alternate branch where Sparta won the Peloponnesian War or something. But it did.
So for example, during the period 2002-2005, I interviewed (I’m just going from memory here): Claire Danes, Tobey Maguire, Bruce Willis, Julia Stiles, Naomi Campbell, David Blaine, Hugh Jackman, Scott Adams, Jack Nicholson, Tim Burton, Chris Rock, Robert Englund, Daniel Handler, Joan Didion, J.K. Rowling, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mos Def, John le Carré, Johnny Cash, Natalie Portman (who for some reason I spastically hugged after our interview), Hugo Weaving, Albert Brooks, Kathleen Turner, Gerard Butler (whose interview I accidentally deleted from my digital recorder before I could transcribe it; then I died of shame), Guy Pearce, Ann Coulter, Allison Janney, Al Franken, Jon Stewart, Keanu Reeves, Tilda Swinton, Tom Clancy … I can’t go on.
I mean I could. But I can’t.
I don’t link to everything I write. In fact volumetrically speaking I link to hardly anything I write. But I’m going to link to this piece I wrote for The Believer, because I’m really proud of it.
It started with something that happened almost 20 years ago. My mom, who’s an English professor, was working on a review of a new edition of Leonard Woolf’s diaries. This is the kind of thing my parents do. Leonard Woolf being the husband of Virginia Woolf, but also a pretty interesting guy in his own right. Because he was Jewish, and poor, he didn’t have a lot of options when he graduated from college, so he enlisted in the British Civil Service (he almost flunked the exam), which sent him to Ceylon to help out with oppressing the indigenous population.
Anyway, my mom was reading his diaries, sitting in a massive faux-leather La-Z-Boy in our old living room, and she told me an anecdote: apparently Leonard Woolf had a colleague in Ceylon who was writing something. Woolf was a literary snob even before he got married to one of the greatest novelists ever, and he looked at the guy’s work, and he remarked with horror — dripping with scorn voice here — that it contained “fairies.”
Flash forward to last year, order generic zithromax when my first fantasy novel came out. I was thinking about fantasy, and why I write it, and what it means, and that anecdote came floating to the surface of the brackish pond that is my memory. And I wondered, who was that poor forgotten guy, on whose manuscript Leonard Woolf dripped scorn?
So I found out.
That’s only partly what the piece is about. It’s also about making connections between fantasy and modernism, which it seems to me people should do more often. The two literary movements that I’ve basically organized my life around started pretty much at the same moment in history. That can’t have been a coincidence.
(I mean, fantasy has been around for millennia, but fantasy in the modern sense, the Lewis-and-Tolkien sense. You know what I mean.)
Anyway, I’m happy with how the piece came out. I’m pretty tired of writing these truncated little 650-word nuglets for Time. It felt good to type knowing that I didn’t have to stop when I came to the end of the little box. When I announced to my mom that she told me the anecdote that started the whole piece off, she looked at me and said: “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
It’s true what the Fresh Prince said. Parents just don’t understand.
Number one: I make a cameo on Penny Arcade TV this week. No link — I don’t want you to actually watch the cameo. I just want you to know it’s there.
Number two: generic azithromycin cost Viking really nicely made me a fancy leather-bound copy of The Magicians. Look!
I don’t know what tooled leather is, but I’d like to think this is tooled leather.
Here’s the other thing people generally mean when they ask me why I work at Time: Why do you, a card-carrying member of the nerdo-American underground, work at Time, which is by and large an organ of the straight mainstream surface-dwelling culture?
The answer to this is actually kind of complicated, which is one reason I created a fictional alter ego for the express purpose of asking myself this question in public. (I shall kill him now. There, he’s dead.)
The easy answer is, it happened by accident. I was going to be an academic. In fact I took the drastic step of going to grad school for three years in comparative literature. While I was there I learned something really important: a career in academia is really hard, and I wasn’t very good at it. So I left and did what you did when you had no marketable skills and it was 1996, which was get hired as a Web producer.
My first job was at a startup — this startup — which died. My second was at Time Inc. I did Web stuff for them for four years before they decided I was better at writing than at Web stuff, which isn’t saying much.
This isn’t the normal way you get into writing at a magazine like Time. You’re supposed to go to journalism school and then do a few years at a local paper. But they needed somebody who was into books, and another person who was into zithromax online usa technology, and if they could get one person who was into both, they would take him and save an entire salary. I was that person.
So that’s one way to explain it: I needed a job, and that was the job I could get. Another way to look at it is that I have a habit — good or bad, I don’t know — of throwing in my lot with large, stable institutions. I went to Harvard. I went to Yale. I went to Time. I’m very risk-averse that way. Except when it comes to writing novels, I’m crap at going it alone. It doesn’t make for a very exciting resume, but it cuts down on my ambient anxiety levels considerably
Another downside is that It creates weird expectations about what kind of person I am. People tend to assume I’m this conventional, conservative, fogey-ish, bow-tie-wearing pod-person. Which by the way, there aren’t really people like that at Time. But I’m probably a little less like that than most, and there are times when I feel like I’m communicating with my co-workers across a vast cultural chasm. I dwarf, you elf. I Morlock, you Eloi.
So if you run into me at a reading or a convention or wherever, and you’re wondering what the hell the guy from Time magazine is doing there, just remember: when I go to work, everybody at Time is wondering what the hell the guy in the Potions Master t-shirt is doing there.
So sometimes when I’m talking to people — fans, people in bars, forensic psychiatrists, you know, people — they’re all, jeez, you work at Time magazine? What’s the deal with that?
As far as I can tell this question can actually mean two different things.
Meaning #1: You write novels. Moreover they are actually (for some reason that I don’t necessarily understand or endorse) published. Why do you have a job at Time too?
Well, here’s the thing: most novelists have day jobs. The sad truth is that there just aren’t that many novelists who make enough money that they don’t have to work on the side. A lot of them teach writing. Some do other things. Like work for Time.
There is a magic number somewhere out there, which is the amount of money I’d need to make from my novels to quit buy zithromax cheap working and just write them full-time. French mathematicians, building on earlier work by Descartes, first discovered and calculated this number in the 17th century. They named it Fuck-You Money, or simply F prime. (This would be funnier if I knew how to do superscripts in HTML.) The amount of money I currently make from writing fiction is approaching F prime, but it isn’t there. Yet.
That’s partly because in my case F prime is artificially high, because I live in a really expensive place, namely New York City. Where I stay partly because my daughter (who’s 5) lives here with her Mom, and I would be miserable if I lived too far from her.
I also stay in New York because I work at Time magazine. Recursiveness! You can iterate that loop pretty much endlessly.
Coming tomorrow: Meaning #2!
This is the Italian cover of The Magicians. They changed it to the singular because apparently that sounds better in Italian:
Through a tragic buy azithromycin single dose online production error they seem to have substituted the cover for an Italian-language novelization of Cabaret. Otherwise it looks great.