Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The tour in review

This is all I did for two months.

Greetings, netlings! Hope you're enjoying the war on Christmas!

(This morning I told the cranky, list-boggled husband he was a General fighting the War on Christmas. His response: If I was General, this war would've been won by now.)

Anyhoo, long time no blog. I've been in hiding. Nothing like several months of non-stop self-promotion to make a girl crawl back into her cave for awhile. Honestly? It's been wonderful. I'm back at work on the new book, I've written a bunch of ghost stories. Even my writerly meltdowns have had a pleasant sort of self-locating quality to them, like, Ah, yes, this is who I am. (I am a person who will cry to the tune of four thousand It Gets Better videos just to avoid writing.)

This is me talking.
Promoting a book is  . . . well, good holy hell, it's just insane. It's so much fun, and it makes you completely mentally ill. Try talking about yourself non-stop for two months, taking breaks only to switch time zones by plane, train, or automobile, and you've got the idea. It's more overwhelming than I ever would have imagined. After nearly a month on the road, I flew home with about 16 hours to kill before I was scheduled to read at Elliott Bay Book Company. During my time away, I had been on two continents, oscillating between anxiety and exhilaration, enjoying too little sleep and too much of the kind of diet I consume while traveling (whatever protein I can find to avoid passing out; red wine & coffee) and now I arrived at Elliott Bay hoping I would at least remember the name of my own book and my own self, should anyone ask me.

Yellow beverages figured prominently on this book tour.

It's funny; my exhaustion was so complete I actually almost miss it. That floaty, out-of-body feeling, the utter inability to try too hard. Or maybe I just miss the way I slept that night after my reading, grateful, relishing my own sheets and the fact that all future events would be close to Seattle. I spent the next day in my pajamas, reading. Never have I  craved my bed and the absorbing world of books more profoundly.

I'm talking some more!
From roughly mid-July to mid-October, I couldn't write to save my life. I don't know how writers like Joyce Carol Oates and  T.C. Boyle do it. How do they put out a book a year AND go on tour AND, um, put out a book a year?! There's something almost monstrous about that much energy coursing through one human being. My hat is off to you writers. Shoot, my whole outfit is off. I'm in awe.

October clipped along with more events, interviews, and this incessant buzzing in my ear that turned out to be the sound of my own voice. Then, emerging from months held hostage by that dominatrix Yoga Bitch, November was this great gift of time; book promotion had slowed to a nice gentle simmer, and each morning I flew to my desk, overflowing with ideas. I wrote stories, drafted chapters of the new book, cobbled together essays I'll pitch in the new year. Honestly, looking back on the last month, it's a little scary, how productive I was. (Maybe this is how JCO and TCB do it: they become manic at the thought of an empty calendar.) For months, everything I had written was yoga-related, and, now, having permission to write whatever I wanted again (permission from the horrid taskmaster that lives in my brain and keeps telling me I'm not doing enough to keep Yoga Bitch afloat) I went a little nuts.

Aunt Suzanne, still talking.
Now it's December. Never a good writing month, what with the houseguests, the parties, the bonbons and mulled wine to consume. So in lieu of writing, I've done something I've dreamt about doing for years. I've cleaned out every box, every desk drawer, every cubby and trunk in the house. In the hallway beneath the attic hatch are several stacks of files, notebooks, costumes, props, and about three Douglas Firs' worth of paper.

I am purging Yoga Bitch. The play, the memoir, the abandoned novel. The urine sample containers. I'm purging her in the most loving way possible. At first I thought I would shred all the early drafts, the novel, the outlines made in 2004 when I thought I could fit every single thought I had ever had into this one book. But my God, the process contained in those drafts! I learned how to write on the back of this story. I learned how to revise, how to structure, how to cut and cut and cut.

With my brilliant director, Jean-Michele Gregory, after Yoga Bitch opened in London

I've shredded a lot, and recycled a lot, but I'm keeping the drafts and the notebooks, at least for now. They'll move into the attic, and in the new year I'll start filling all the gaps they've left in my house with new work. It's remarkable, really, this chore; relegating to the past something that consumed me for so long has proven to be one of those rare, perfect experiences that is as good in reality as it was in my imagination. It's an unmitigated joy, uncomplicated by regret or nostalgia. The void waits patiently to be filled. It's a pretty great thing, really.

Twenty-five years old, in Bali.