You probably know by now that I don’t read about myself.
It’s not because I’m above what people think about me. Not gon’ lie. I actually care about that, to some extent. It’s not because I’m thin-skinned. Or because I’m busy writing. There’s no smug, clever, artistic reason.
The main reason lies in the procrastination family: deferral, emails to write, the addictive chain of The Office, buying conditioner, hijacked reward mechanism, wanting to enjoy the article with trail mix.
My agent, Denise, however, is really good at keeping up. Usually she’ll just tell me what’s going on. Sometimes she sends me Google alerts.
She even sends me the ones about other Ian Williamses gone awry. Behold.
In the photo, I am wearing a vintage seventies polyester shirt. And chest hair.
Now that that’s out of the way, Bonnie Stern brings together writers and readers over food inspired by the book. For Reproduction, we had a Caribbean-German fusion. Perfect, right? And there were little bagel appetizers–a detail from part 1 of the novel.
Yesterday, Toronto was in the middle of a winter storm but what a good group of avid readers turned up! What good conversations! As with these events, you always leave feeling like you wish you could have talked with so-and-so more but you just can’t be in multiple areas of the room.
I think I have the best team of people around me as a writer. If there was ever a Canlit roller derby, I’d want these three people skating on my team with their elbows out (tiny shorts optional).
My agent, Denise Bukowski, lives and breathes this business. She sends me everything I need to know about myself as it appears online.
Anne Collins at Random House is such an extraordinary, perceptive editor. In terms of business, I don’t need to see how the chicken nugget gets made because she’s made millions of them. Does that work metaphorically?
Scott Sellers, my publicist, has to be the best in the game. He’s booked TV, radio, print spots for Reproduction. In studios, he’ll stand to the side like a boss as if I’m an asset that needs safeguarding.
Here’s what I heard from host Raina Douris about Dolly Parton but you can’t tell anybody, okay?
Apparently, Dolly’s husband was spending a lot of time at the bank and Dolly discovered that it was because a new pretty bank teller was working there. Dolly was worried but she had to keep working, hard-working gal that she is.
So Dolly was playing a concert and afterwards this adorable young girl with red hair and bright eyes was waiting backstage for her to autograph something. Dolly melted.
What’s your name? she asked.
Jolene, the girl said.
Pretty name like that should be in a song. I’m gonna write a song.
And that’s how Dolly came to write the song, “Jolene,” using the girl’s name but sending a message to the pretty bank teller whom her husband was visiting. It’s one of her most covered songs. An absolute knock-out.
I tend to ambivalent about live music because I need the environment (volume, room temperature, personal-space protections) to be just right before I can enjoy it. That fussiness is probably the result of experiencing music as recordings in sanitized conditions through headphones or in my car. Most people get their music this way.
Yesterday I went with Tariq to hear Only a Visitor play live. Never heard of them. I had no idea what to expect. The five of them walked on stage in the dark then the lead singer, Robyn Jacob, pursed her lips and played a snaky hook. By 0:51 I was like a kid listening to his favourite Sesame Street song. Their music crosses jazz with art song with pop with children’s educational programming with a Canada Council grant.
And what a dope name for a Vancouver singer/songwriter, especially in our Truth and Reconciliation times: “Good night, everybody. I’m only a visitor.”
I had an interview with one David Chau of Georgia Strait today. It probably won’t run for a while; there’s a lag between the doing of a thing and the appearance of a thing. Unless it’s live. Consider: between the signing and the launch of a book is a small eternity of two years.
Good conversation with the Strait man. We talked for a few hours. All those words will get reduced to a column of print. And the reporter will probably cut out the parts about the weirdness of touching meat, whether velvet should be worn, the double narrative our society gives us about contentment and ambition, floral prints, caffeine, age guessing-games, choosing books over movies.
The sad part about interviews is that the interviewer cuts himself out, leaving the subject alone. Why is writing so solitary?