A Brief Personal Update

I’ve been debating whether or not to write this post for a few weeks now. I kept leaning to the side of not posting because, for one thing, this is bound to be a depressing read and, for another, writing it feels a bit self-indulgent and self-absorbed. But when I said on Twitter that I didn’t think anybody would want to read my “depressing shit,” a fair number said that this wasn’t the case and that they genuinely wanted to hear what I have to say. Knowing that people do want to hear and knowing that I don’t want to write twenty emails covering the same ground, I decided to go ahead and do this thing.

So, it’s been ten weeks. On some level, I think I’m still in shock. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I cry every day. Multiple times. I know my son is gone and the sorrow and pain that knowledge brings is unavoidable. It’s not quite as bad as it was four or five weeks ago, when I was crying nearly constantly, but it’s not significantly less, either. Moreover, I’m not sure I want it to be less. Why should it? The longer he is gone, the more I miss him. The more I miss the way he’d bound into my room when I was working to talk to me about something (remember the way Kramer would bound into Jerry’s apartment in Seinfeld? It was kind of like that) or the way he’d call me into his room to share something he’d found on YouTube or the way he’d hug me before he left for an overnight at a friend’s house. And that’s just a tiny list of things that comes to mind at this instant. I could go on and on.

But at the same time, I’m functional. I get up in the mornings and get my kids off to school and myself off to work. When I get to work, I actually get stuff done. For more than two months, someone brought us dinner almost every night or we ate out, but starting this week, I’m cooking again and I have to say that it’s nice to eat “our own” meals again. I really appreciated and enjoyed everything people brought, but you can only eat so many enchiladas and lasagnas before it starts to get old. (Not everyone brought enchiladas and lasagnas, mind you, but there were a lot of them. They are very practical and portable, after all.)

So from the outside, I think I probably look okay. Like I’ve already gotten over this monumental loss that I know I’m never really going to be over. And partly, that’s my choice. I don’t want people to feel like they have to tiptoe around me or, conversely, that they should ask probing questions about my emotional health (especially if they’re not close friends or family). And even with close friends and family, there’s a level on which I just don’t want to go “there”. I can get “there” on my own just fine, and I’d rather do that on my own schedule.

The one thing I haven’t been able to do with any consistency is write. I’ve tried and made a little progress on the YA story I posted a few weeks ago, but by “a little progress,” I really mean little. As in maybe I’ve added 1,000-1,500 words. I think a lot about writing–I plot scenes in my head as a way to get my mind of Julian when I’m trying to fall asleep and thank goodness, that does work. But when it comes to actually sitting down and getting words on paper (or the screen), I just don’t have the concentration. That’s not surprising, from what I hear. The experts say that grief is very consuming and tends to sap your ability to concentrate on anything else.

I’m not putting any expectations on myself at this point as to when (or even whether) I’ll ever write seriously again. I kind of doubt I’ll give it up for good (I tried that once before and was successful for about 10 years, but then the bug came back), but at this point, I have to concentrate on getting through each day as best I can and not think too much about the future.

A Brief Reflection on the RT Book Signing Brouhaha

I was not at this year’s RT, so I can’t speak to the precise dynamics that occurred this year. However, in the past, authors who did not have returnable print books (that is, most authors published by digital-first houses and self-published authors) had a SEPARATE signing on an entirely different day. That signing was poorly attended by the public because it was held in the afternoon on a weekday. Not many readers can get off work to attend a book signing in the middle of a workday. This meant most of the people who attended that signing were conference attendees.

I believe that RT moved that signing to coincide with the “traditional” Saturday book signing precisely to give digital-first and self-published authors an experience that more closely mirrored what the print-published authors got in the past: a signing attended by local readers. What they didn’t do was to “mix together” the two groups of authors. There were essentially still two signings, as there had been in the past, but at the same day and time. This caused major headaches (separate rooms, different lines for different types of book purchases, authors having to decide whether to sign print or digital if they had both, etc.), but I don’t believe it was done with the intention of making some authors feel like second-class citizens. In fact, I think it was done with the express intent of making the authors more “equal.”

What’s most ironic is how spectacularly that effort failed. When there were actually two signings and the digital-first/self-published authors really DID have a second-class experience, there was nothing LIKE this firestorm of controversy surrounding the two different signings. Seriously.

While it’s obvious from the backlash that RT handled the organization of this event poorly, the notion that some authors were relegated to a smaller room because the conference organizers had some sort of agenda against said authors is simply nonsensical. Facts that have been pointed to as proof of this agenda include:

1) Smaller table space for digital-first/self-pub authors than for print authors (which was probably done so more total authors could be accommodated and based on the assumption that the authors selling only print and not digital books would have more physical books on hand and therefore require more table space)

2) Digital-first/self-pub authors being referred to as “aspiring authors” (which seems to have happened once when an announcer apparently misspoke; I can find nothing to support the assertion that digital-first/self-pub authors were given name badges that said “Aspiring Author” instead of “Published Author”)

3) A door to the digital room was apparently closed at some point (an accident? which door? people who were there have told me there was always an open corridor between the two rooms, so I have no idea what actually happened, but I doubt any deliberate effort to cut off the digital room)

The bottom line, as far as I’m concerned is this: RT attempted to do what used to be two separate signings at the same time and, because they were accustomed to treating them as separate events, kept them as such because that’s what they were accustomed to. The result was chaos, as large events which are not well thought out are wont to be. But no one had any intent to slight anyone. That’s simply imputing far much more “planning” than the outcome suggests.