Discover more from The Elysian
The one where there is no writing happening
At one point this week, Brandon Fugal handed me a first-edition copy of A Christmas Carol—one of my favorite books. I leafed through the pages of that red leather book as starry-eyed as though I were a teenager backstage at a Backstreet Boys concert circa 1999. 1
At another point this week I was art directing Ty Burrell for a photoshoot and trying to play it cool. I had met him a few other times and embarrassed myself both of those times too—even though I am the editor of a magazine and shooting him for the cover and I should totally be fine with it. (I don’t know why I am such a fangirl, this is just something that is true about me.)
Then, at another point, I accidentally made it into the final eight round of a pitching competition where I pitched my book idea to a bunch of investors and incubators and then somehow made it into the final four round and then into the final two round and then, as of Friday night, WON THE WHOLE THING. Which kept me up all night aghast by the idea that other people, apart from myself, might actually be interested in this whole serial fiction thing. And how crazy is that?
It was a surreal week—and a lot of work. The whole thing was such a blur of working two jobs (on account of having to help out another company I had a freelancing contract with) while wading through hundreds of stats on the book publishing industry that show that WOW THERE ARE SO MANY MORE WRITERS THAN THERE ARE READERS (more on that soon) while quickly translating those stats into pitch decks for the next round of pitch competitions.
All of this is how I find myself writing this newsletter on the Saturday night before I’m supposed to publish it, on my husband’s phone because mine is dead, and in Apple Notes because there’s no internet, all while listening to Matthew McConaughey’s book Greenlights while driving on a dirt road looking for a campsite because I made a commitment to my newsletter and this is the kind of thing it takes to get a book published in this day and age. (And then I didn’t have enough internet service to publish it until right now—hence the delay.)
All in all, I’m exhausted. I had too much to do last week and that is not usually how I do things. I require a significant amount of peace in my life, and I’m usually pretty good about designing it that way. When I’m not, my muscles start to ache because I don’t have time to go for a walk or do yoga or even take a breath so I clench my muscles all day and hold my breath all day and it makes my legs hurt so much that I start to worry that they are full of blood clots from the covid and I wish I never read that stupid article about blood clots and the covid—which is pretty much how I feel right now.
Thankfully, I’ve got a peaceful week of writing and working and New Mexico spanning out in front of me with the promise of desert hikes and ghost towns and full moons and adobe houses during which I can return to some kind of equilibrium. And yet, last week was a good reminder that writing is not always about writing (alas!).
It can’t always be the introspective moment that happens first thing in the morning when the world is not yet awake and you’ve got a big pot of jasmine tea in front of you and a blank page before you and a head full of the most beautiful dream that you just can’t wait to sip and savor and spill out onto the page exactly they way you want to—even if that is my favorite part of the whole thing.
Because writing involves research (like spending three hours geeking out with Brandon Fugal about the secret meeting he had with the US government about UFOs and the experience he had visiting a haunted nunnery in Utah and the fact that he can hear the dead, taxidermied elk heads that hang from his co-worker’s wall weeping when he’s in his office at night) and creative direction (like photographing Ty Burrel for a cover story for Utah Business about how and why he bought up five bars that used to be speakeasies before Utah decided to let us have alcohol in 2002—yes 2002) and more than anything it involves marketing (like pitching my serial novel idea to as many people as I can in an effort to develop a platform as a writer and attract subsequent book followers).
I may be in the peaceful part of writing my second book, but I’m in the hustle of my first one—and this is the part of book writing that most authors don’t want to do. As a result, they wind up selling two hundred copies (MAX) of a book they spent years and years writing because marketing is hard and, let’s face it, it can be very tempting to just put the thing up on Amazon and let it rot so we can get back to the beautiful process of writing the next one.
I sooooo understand the temptation of that. After last week, part of me wants to go back to the peaceful existence that was the last three years of my life where all I did was work and write. But, having decided that I will not neglect myself the opportunity to have people read my book, my life right now is very Twitter and LinkedIn and research and email and spreadsheets and figuring out the best way to get 1,000 new newsletters every single month because I have a very implausable dream of reaching profitability as a serial book author by the time I start publishing my second book (more on this shortly).
This week I will return to doing only three things: working, working on publishing my first book, and writing my second book. And all of the rest of the time will be devoted to New Mexico and the desert and the way the moon hangs over it all like nothing else matters and everything will return back to peaceful and normal and I will fill myself up with beauty so that I have plenty more to spill out of me tomorrow morning when I sit down to write.
But writing isn’t just about writing. And in fact, sometimes that can be fun too.
Until next Sunday,
The one where we meet Timi
It can be hard to meet newsletters you like, that’s why I want to introduce you to Timi Siytangco, author of Foolish Careers—a newsletter about people who have unsensible careers. We met online with a mutual adoration for each other’s newsletters. Click here to read my interview with Timi.
Quote of the week
The lonely mind in the busy city yearns for connection because it thinks human-to-human connection is the point of everything. But amid pur nature (or the ‘tonic of wildness’ as Thoreau called it) solitude took on a different character. It became in itself a kind of connection. A connection between herself and the world. And between her and herself.
—The Midnight Library
I finished The Midnight Library which was one of those fun/short books that has some good philosophical meaning and some good stories, but isn’t necessarily good writing, but is still worth spending an enjoyable day reading.
I also finished Greenlights on our road trip today. Highly recommend as an audiobook—in fact, I don’t think it can be read any other way. And can we talk about these amazing dreams Matthew is having? I’m so ready to be floating down the Amazon naked.
I’m still reading Travels with Epicurus which I am finding a nice breather. I’ll be searching for a new fiction read tonight and I’ll let you know what I wind up in next week.
As always you can view my reading list here.
Writing progress this week
First book: A lot of networking, four pitch competitions, research for a sensitivity reader.
Second book: No progress.
Articles: Research for three separate articles.
Or an adult at a Backstreet Boys concert in 2019.