Ever since I signed up on MySpace, I keep hearing about how it’s either 1) totally jumped the shark and so over now or 2) incredibly dangerous and a bad idea. As for me personally, I’m just trying to keep up with it all: it’s exhausting. At any rate, I just watched a segment on GMA about how, if you’re in the market for a job or going to be looking for one, it’s best not to post a bunch of half-naked pictures of yourself, or wild details about your partying, on your MySpace page, because prospective employers are searching it to get background info on applicants. Which is food for thought, certainly. But is it EVER a good idea to put up naked pictures or details about your wild spring break adventures? I think it is sometimes too easy to forget the true vastness of the internet: anyone can pretty much find anything. I guess the days when you can fudge on your resume (either to cover up the bad, or over-emphasize the good) are gone. Now, with just a click, the truth will out. As well as everything else. Food for thought, at any rate.
Speaking of work, and jobs, I got a little reminder yesterday of how long I’ve been at this one (by which I mean writing, not updating this journal, although this does feel like a part-time career, at times). Yesterday, I got in the mail an early copy of the new That Summer hardback, which is coming out—like everything else—on April 6th. It looks beautiful, and of course set me back on a total nostalgia wave. That Summer came out in the fall of 1996: now, almost ten years (and six more books) later, here it is, updated. It kind of brings everything full circle, and you know I’m such a sap I love stuff like that. I can so remember that fall, and how excited I was the first time I saw the finished book, and the first time I saw it in a bookstore, and my first reading at the Intimate Bookshop at Eastgate shopping center, when just about everyone I’ve ever known in my life came out for my very first signing, then over to my parents’ house for a little party following.
I remember the signing was on a Friday, and I had to take the night off from the Burrito, missing my shift, to be there. I also remember that when the book came out there was some weirdness going on with my then-publisher (entirely too complicated to get into) so I was on my own, pretty much, for publicity. I borrowed money from my parents (between the reception, and this, they were in it, weren’t they?) to print up a little press packet, which I then took around to every single bookstore in the area, working my local connection—“Hi! I’m from Chapel Hill, and I have a book!”—as hard as I could. Those first few readings were so sad. It was, literally, me, maybe one person I’d brought along for moral support, and that was it. Sometimes someone who worked at the bookstore would sit down, if they felt really sorry for me. But it was STILL exciting, even when I felt like the biggest loser in the world.
When my next book came out, I had a few more people show up at readings. Then, with the one after that, a few more. Over seven books, it’s been nothing but gradual. Some things have gotten easier (like getting support from my publisher, thank you Penguin!) and some harder (keeping things fresh and original, and up to everyone’s expectations). And some things have stayed the same. Case in point: last book tour, in Pennsylvania, I did an afternoon signing. At first, there were only about three people there, and I thought, oh, well, and sat down to get to it. But then, just as I was starting to speak, I heard this commotion from the nearby escalator. This group of girls was running up it, out of breath, and when they saw me, they shrieked. Turned out they had driven from New Jersey just to see me, and they were so excited they were beside themselves. They’d already read the book, had a ton of questions about it and all the others. The guy from the bookstore said, “I saw them running across the parking lot, I didn’t know WHAT was going on.” I have to say, as a writer, you can’t ask for more than that. So even with a grand total of about ten people, that was one of my favorite signings EVER. I’ll never forget it. (And hey to you Jersey girls, if you’re out there. And thanks.)
Also in the mail yesterday: a couple of the new Truth About Forever paperbacks, which look lovely as well. There’s a teaser chapter for Just Listen at the end of them, too, which was a nice surprise. Now, all I can do is wait for my copies of Just Listen to arrive. That’s always a GREAT day, when you get your box of books and open it up. And it never gets old, or less exciting, whether it’s the first book or the seventh, the first year or ten more on. Maybe I should convince my parents to throw me a reception when it comes out, for old time’s sake? Or, maybe not. In fact, I think I still owe them for those press packets. Whoops!
Finally, a birthday shoutout to my friend Courtney. I wish for you a day full of all your favorite things: biscuits, Ryan Adams, Sephora lipsticks, J. Crew sweaters, Raymond Carver stories and, of course, some science.