Tag Archives: Nathan Holic

Book Covers and Comics!

A couple quick updates, from Nathan Holic the artist (as opposed to Nathan Holic the fiction writer, or even Nathan Holic the editor or Nathan Holic the sometimes-blogger)!

Last Fall, I had the opportunity to teach a class called The Rhetoric of Comics. It was a blast, and I savored every second of it. I also created a course-specific blog for the class, which is one reason why I haven’t been updating this–my author site/ blog–very often in the last few months. It’s tough to keep so many portals constantly updated. Anyway, though, the class is now over, but the blog still exists. If you’re interested in seeing some of the assignments and the student work from the class, just click here.

I’m also excited to announce the publication of author-punker Lavinia Ludlow’s second novel, Single Stroke Seven, which will burst onto the scene in March. Lavinia asked me to draw the cover of the book, which you can see below. To order the book, click here.

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You can also read some of Lavinia’s writing advice/ lessons here. She references some of our interactions as writer-editor team a few years back, so I get a name-drop or two.

And finally, because I was teaching a Rhetoric of Comics course last Fall, I spent a lot of time writing/ drawing comics. (That’s what happens. When I teach a particular genre, I wind up immersing myself in it, and really spending all of my creative time indulging in that genre.) So, in addition to creating the course syllabus and all of the assignment sheets as comics (see two example images below), I also wanted to draw at least one complete original comic.

At the end of the Fall semester, I received two different opportunities to do so.

The first was an invitation to participate in the ongoing Transit Interpretation Project (TrIP) here in Orlando, which asks local artists to use public transit in the city and then “interpret” the experience. Orlando is, quite simply, not a city known for its incredible public transit, and so many of the pieces of artwork offer commentary on the issues that riders face. My own contribution was a little more light-hearted, but (I think) also speaks to how/why public transit is used in the city (more as a lark than as a reliable method to get somewhere)…my wife and I took a “date day” on the SunRail, and you can read my comic here.

Finally, novelist Alex Kudera asked me to contribute a comic adaptation of one chapter of his novel Fight For Your Long Day for a brand-new classroom edition of the book. This was a pretty involved project, and one of the longest comics I’d created in awhile. Below is a single page, and I’ll offer updates when the edition is published. You can read Alex Kudera’s blog for more information.

Away From Therapy2 - jpg

What’s going on this Spring? Well, I’m teaching, and finishing final revisions on a novel I’ve been working on since 2010 or so. And then there’s AWP in Los Angeles at the start of April, where I’ll sit on a panel to talk about my Rhetoric of Comics course. So there are some things coming up for writer-teacher-editor-artist Nathan Holic. Maybe I’ll write another blog update to let you know about them? Maybe…maybe…That might be a productive use of time.

Launch Week

Here goes!

So my new novella, The Things I Don’t See, has technically been “available” for a little over a month. If you pre-ordered, you should’ve received it in the mail by now. If you’ve seen me walking around town, you should’ve seen that I wear it around like a sandwich board. And if you’re friends with me on Facebook, you should know that I did a “soft release” at the first-ever “Wine and Sign” for BookmarkIt in East End Market. But, for about a thousand different reasons, I haven’t planned a much-larger “release party” (confetti, party hats, people yelling “whooooo!”, etc.), and I haven’t been very active in trying to “market” the book (shouting constantly from my Facebook pulpit, participating in reading events, etc.).

The reason for this, as you’ll see, is that I have a very big week ahead of me. I’m just going to call it “LAUNCH WEEK” because why not? Yes, the book is out. But seriously, does the ENTIRE WORLD know that it’s out? If not, then it’s time to launch the thing.

This coming week (4/12 – 4/18), there are three places where you can catch me reading from The Things I Don’t See, and where you can pick up a signed copy. That’s right! I’m peddlin’ and hustlin’ all week long (in a totally non-dirty, non-creepy way). And, as far as I know, none of these places/events interferes with the Game of Thrones season premiere, or the Daredevil series premiere (that’s totally on the Netflix, peeps, so you can actually watch that WHILE attending one of my events!).

Looking forward to launching my book with style, and with large drunken crowds whose noisy chatter overpowers my reading voice. So mark your calendars! Bring your checkbooks! And see you soon!

Tuesday, April 14: There Will Be Words

7:00 PM. Reading with Cate McGowan and Jamie Poissant (both of whom also have new books out!). For more info, and directions, check out the Facebook event page.

Wednesday, April 15: UCF Town & Gown Luncheon

11:30 AM, Morgridge International Reading Center (technically, this is a private event…so let’s hope there’s purple lettuce and interestingly shaped butter for the rolls!)

Saturday, April 18: UCF Book Fest

The UCF Book Festival is an annual event coordinated by the College of Education. It takes place over the course of a full day, and features a wide range of authors, from memoirists to novelists to children’s book authors to food writers.

Check out the full schedule and list of authors here: http://education.ucf.edu/bookfest/schedule.cfm (Links to an external site.)

I’m reading from my new novella at 2 PM, but there are some great panels and events throughout the day.

LAUNCH WEEK! BOOKS FOR EVERYONE!

Hope to see you there!

Things I Dont See

 

The Reviews Are In…

I’ll be flying to Chicago tomorrow to say goodbye to a much-loved uncle. I write a great deal about the struggles and difficulties that we face when attempting to be “the right kind of man” in a culture that’s tugging us in a thousand different directions, a thousand different conceptions of manhood, and I should say that my uncle was definitely one of those guys who epitomized everything you’d want in a man, a family member, a father, and he didn’t even make it look tough. Great man, and we’re all going to miss him.

I’d planned to write a couple posts over the last two weeks to spotlight some different Nathan Holic links and interviews, etc., but the virtual world of my blog has to take a back seat to the real world. I figured I’d gather these links into a single blog post, and post them into various pages throughout this site, and boom: you’ll have them all in one place, and I’ll still catch my flight.

So what’s happening? What’s new for me?

“Don’t Critique Me”: I read with Chicago author Lindsay Hunter at Functionally Literate in downtown Orlando this past Saturday. The video should be available soon, and I’ll post it when it’s up (Lindsay was freakin’ awesome). We were old grad school cronies, too, so in anticipation of the event, I wrote an essay for the Burrow Press blog in which I found my old fiction workshop critiques for her stories, and then critiqued my own critiques. Check it out here. If you’re a Lindsay Hunter fan, you should also check out The Drunken Odyssey’s podcast interview with her, which was recorded directly before the Functionally Literate event.

Review in Scene Sarasota: Sarasota’s arts & culture magazine, Scene Sarasota, just ran a great review of 15 Views of Orlando in their September issue. They wondered if there would ever be a “15 Views of Sarasota,” to which I can only tell the online world: if there’s a demand for it, we’ll do it. But you’ve gotta let us know. And you’ve gotta get Stephen King on board.

Interview at Knightnews: I spent about an hour talking with the folks from Knightnews.com, the online news hub for University of Central Florida students. It’s an attractive site, very multimedia heavy, and I got the chance to talk about American Fraternity Man, the culture of the National Fraternity, the hazing and alcohol culture at campuses across the country, and my own thoughts on both student and administrative successes and failures. It’s a video, so watch on the device of your choice.

American Fraternity Man reviewed: the first reviews of AFM are in, and while I’m always nervous/anxious for each one, I’ve been really happy with what folks are saying about my book. Here are some quick quotes and links:

“This book is hard to put down…It is a reminder of the complexities of this system, but most importantly a reminder that, at the core, relationships and influence are the most important and most effective tools we have when developing students. American Fraternity Man is everything you love and hate about fraternity life. It is a great story for anyone who knows what it is like to be miserable, challenged, and still love their job.”- Association of Fraternity/ Sorority Advisors, “Essentials” Newsletter
“American Fraternity Man is many things at once–funny and tragic, pro-Greek and anti-frat, bildungsroman and travel narrative, indictment of whiney millenials and the adults who made them that way. For GDIs (I’ll let you read the book for a translation of that abbreviation), the novel is a window into a world that is often misunderstood, even hated, but whose inhabitants are no less human, whose stories are no less worthy of telling.” – Dianne Turgeon Richardson, Sundog Lit
“I feel that all college students should take the chance to read this book…This book was an eye-opener to me…” – Books With Bite
Okay, so that’s the link round-up for this week!
It’s awesome to get great reviews, but I’ve gotta tell you: it’s just awesome that people are reading the book. So if you’ve been to any of my readings lately, or if you’ve picked up the book, or if you’ve finished plowing through it: thank you so much. I don’t take any of this for granted, and I appreciate any support you’ve given me.

When We Say We’re Bored

I’ve got a new column up at the Huffington Post (it was originally part of UCF Today‘s “Forum” series, and it’s also been re-printed at Context Florida).

Follow this link to get to Huff Po, and give me a like/share/comment if you dig the column. Here’s the opening:

“When We Say We’re Bored, What Are We Really Saying About Ourselves?”

In late August, three teenagers in Oklahoma targeted and killed a random jogger for no other reason than because they were bored. The story is heartbreaking, maddening, and chilling, and it’s made even more so by their explanation: boredom.

 

Were these kids really saying that their own entertainment was the most important thing in the world, more important than other lives?

The more I thought about the story, the more I moved beyond my repulsion at just these three teens and considered the word “boredom” itself, how quickly we all employ it, but how little we deserve to use it.

Read more

Functionally Literate

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(Hope to see you there! Super-stoked about this, especially because it might very well be the last reading at Urban ReThink. So come. Be part of history.)

Clutter Returns

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If you’re an avid reader of All Things Holic (there might be someone out there who fits under this description…maybe? seriously, does anyone want to step up and be a Holic-aholic?), you might have noticed that my serialized graphic novel “Clutter” went on hiatus sometime last Fall.

It’s okay. Don’t worry. The project wasn’t abandoned. The publication, Smalldoggies Magazine, just underwent a major renovation (<—-that’s a metaphor that seems to fit within the world of “Clutter”). Actually, it might be more accurate to say that Smalldoggies Magazine was demolished so that a new building could take its place. Matty Byloos, the co-founder of the magazine, created a new online publication called Nailed Magazine; all of the content from the old magazine was transferred over, and now they’re starting to publish new material.

So anyway. “Clutter” has just resumed. It feels a little weird to pick up the pencil and pen again after so much time off, and it will likely feel weird to read this single new installment of the series (since it takes place within the very short time span of the overall series, and assumes that you just finished reading Part 13), but hopefully that weirdness doesn’t last.

Get set for more “Clutter” soon. Until then, maybe it’s time to get a refresher, and to reread some of those old installments, right? Just click on “Publications” on the menu bar up there, and then “Graphic Narratives,” and there are links to every single episode.

Marketing My Writing: Part II

The following is the second essay in a series (that I might or might not continue to write) exploring my own curiosity and dread at having to market my first novel.

“Like-Watching,” and Facebook Givers/Takers

Back in the day, there seemed to be only one real use for Facebook: the term “social networking” was broad, but it pretty much covered all the bases. You started an account for purely social reasons, whether that was to meet new people, or re-connect with old school friends, or keep in contact with those you barely see, or (somewhat nefariously) keep tabs on the social activities of others.

What drew so many people to Facebook originally (and what continues to draw them to the site) is that “pure social function” that I mentioned in my last post. Facebook really does have the potential to be an amazing force for good. How often would I talk with my cousins across the country if not for the social network? How  else would I be able to share pictures of my son with so many people who actually do want to see him grow, but who live states away?

Seen through another lens, however, Facebook also has the potential to be an impressively destructive force, one that produces crippling anxiety because you see it as revealing only emptiness and absence and disinterest and hate. The function for users is less about connection, and instead about personal revelation, the speaking of one’s mind, the sharing of ideas/ information/ life details that the user hopes the world will see and/or read. I won’t spend this post talking about how people share “hate” on Facebook: once again, just close your eyes and picture election season, or the gun control debate. Yeah, we know what hate looks like. (See Hello There, Racists for a visual.)

But what do I mean by “emptiness” and “disinterest” and “absence”?

When we see the function of Facebook as journal or autobiography, and our friends as our readers, we no longer care about connection, but instead about consumption and reaction. In other words, when I post something to Facebook (a status update, a photo, etc.), increasingly I have begun to measure its value by the number of comments that I get, or the number of likes. As I mentioned in my last post, these features allow us to see the tangible and immediate reaction not just to our writing (if, say, we write something funny about the Oscars) but to our very lives (if we post a major announcement). And here’s the rough part: too often, I measure value not by the accumulated comments and likes, the positive glass-half-full view, but by the number of comments and likes that I don’t get.

Yes, sometimes you’re too busy living your life to care about such things. When my baby boy was born and I uploaded my first photo with my son, I didn’t give a rat’s ass who liked it. (Hell, I was too exhausted to think about something like that!) Over a hundred people wound up liking the photo, or commenting on my wall, or whatever, and I genuinely appreciated it all, how much the world seemed to care about this milestone in my life…but I was immersed in the moment itself, and the posting of pictures and updates was an uncontainable outpouring that had nothing to do with audience reaction. I just wanted to share because I was happy.

But milestones are not a daily occurrence. If they were, then they wouldn’t be “milestones.”

So what of the times when you make a Facebook contribution and you’re not “too busy to care” how the world will react? When, say, you post a status update and a photo of your new haircut, and the “likes” are thinner than you’d expect? When you get zero comments? Maybe likes and comments are not intended to be validating votes, but that’s our current culture: we vote on American Idol and The Voice and a thousand other shows that I don’t watch, and—despite having zero credibility as critics—we write reviews on Goodreads and Yelp and Untappd and Flixster and imdb.com and Amazon. On Facebook, where there are no true “reviews” of a status update or photo, no real judges and no polls, isn’t the “like” our unit of measurement, our vote about what we find to be valuable/ important/ funny/ heart-warming/ etc.? All these status updates, and I chose this one to like.

The more you consider a tepid response to something you find important, the more you find yourself thinking about all of the people who could have commented or “liked” a comment and yet did not. You think: did my wife not see this? Did my brother not see this? Is the entire world “too busy to care” about looking at Facebook right now? Is the world more consumed with important things, and I alone am worried about the status of my status update? Do they all hate it? Oh God, what have I done to offend [Insert Name]?

When this becomes your state of mind, you start “like-watching.”

Some updates and photos and comments carry heavier weights than others, of course. If I post via Untappd what beer I am currently drinking, I really don’t care what sort of response I get (it’s usually an accident anyway, a failure to turn off the “post to Facebook” button on the application). Some postings might need only a single like to make you happy, a sign that someone in the world cared when you typed “Oh man, I’m tired. Rough day at work.” The “like” becomes the equivalent of a back-pat, or a hug, or a high-five, just real (albeit virtual) acknowledgement of your shared humanity.

For other postings, though, only the sheer volume of “likes” from across multiple target audiences will satisfy you. (i.e. “I posted a comment about my most fervent belief, and I stated it as eloquently as possible! Must get agreement, or I will think I didn’t get my point across!”) The more important your update, the more you need the approval…the opposite, after all, is disapproval (in your own mind, at least)…and when you being to suspect that the world has disapproved of you, you begin to experience regret: man, was it ever a mistake to post that comment about how bored I am! The world thinks I’m pathetic! The world thinks I’m frivolous! AHHHH!

You start setting mental goals for what you hope will happen: how many likes will it take to make you happy, how many shares, how many comments, and whose validation do you care about most, whose approval are you trying to win, whose goat are you trying to get? You start comparing your own update to those of friends and family and acquaintances: how is that [Insert Name] was able to type simply “Ugh. Traffic!” and get 78 likes, and yet you typed an update about losing fifteen pounds and only got 17 likes? Does this say something about you, about how little the world thinks of your weight loss, or maybe about how they all think you’re a liar, or maybe that they all think you should’ve lost that weight a long time ago so just shut up already! You like-watch, because Facebook is your stage and the world is your audience and no one wants to take a bow in silence.

*

Over time, the more you like-watch, you also start to realize that Facebook is a world of “givers” and “takers.” We all fall somewhere on a broad spectrum here.

On the one end, there are the givers, the Facebook users who are always quick to leave you a comment, as if they are constantly plugged in and waiting for the opportunity to interact and serve as the world’s counselor. From the giver, nearly every status gets a like, and as a result, scores of Facebook friends are affirmed in their beliefs, or their sense of humor, or their general satisfaction with existing, or whatever. God bless the givers.

On the other end, though, there are the Facebook “takers,” the friends who never respond to wall comments, to messages, who never drop you a like, but who still manage to consistently update the world on their own lives. The taker soaks up all the praise, all the affirmation, but never pays it forward; this is the person who fills his pockets at the “give a penny, take a penny” dish…

I can’t say whether givers “like-watch” more than takers. I’d like to think that they don’t, that they’re just generous and caring and understanding, that they’re not looking for everyone to reciprocate the gesture, that they are truly acting selflessly. I’d like to think that. I’d also like to think that I’m a decent friend to the digital world. But how many status updates and photos do I view each day, even if only casually as I wait in line for a Diet Coke and scroll through my phone to occupy the time? How many? And how many do I like? How many comments do I leave? Some, sure, scattered here and there whenever I feel compelled to action. But what’s the proportion? And am I fair? Here I am, making sweeping conclusions about what a certain number of likes means for my own value as a human being, and yet I slide past someone’s photo of their newborn.

*

All of this to say: lately, I’ve been confused about whether I’m a giver or a taker.

And obviously, this all comes back to the novel, and my concern at how to market the thing.

I’ve got a book that will be published in less than a month, and its success depends upon my ability to spread the word about its publication. Say nothing about it to friends/ family/ colleagues/ etc., and no one will buy it or read unless they stumble upon it. So boom: Facebook is perfect for marketing purposes! However, use my Facebook as a constant sales and marketing tool, and it not only clouds the once-pure function of the social networking utility (I’m no longer using Facebook to keep connected, but instead to sell, which feels dirty), but also pegs me forever as a taker. An obvious one.

And I’ll be honest here: I never wanted to be the guy who uses social media to market his shit. Like, everyone else is posting about the NCAA basketball tournament, and this guy is posting Stephen Covey quotes and links to his business, and telling people to sign up for webinars or whatever. This taker never comments on anyone else’s postings, unless it’s to offer his services for something you didn’t even know he did (“Well, I see that you’re in the market for a new car! Give me a call, buddy!”). It’s like getting sales calls from friends who you thought were calling to catch up.

When I start “like-watching” a status update about my book, I pay careful attention to the reaction, thinking: okay, cool, this person now knows about the book, and now this person too. I start thinking: maybe this will translate into sales; maybe each of these “likes” represents someone who will buy/read the book! I start thinking: but wait, only three fucking people liked this comment about my novel, so does that mean I’ll only sell three total copies? Holy shit, I’m a failure.

I start to see my world of Facebook connections as consumers rather than friends.  Each is a potential book-buyer, so have I posted enough about my book to reach them all? Have I approached the book from the proper angles so that these friends can be interested, and then these friends, and then these friends?

And oh crap, do I post too much about the book? Have I started to lose friends because it’s the only thing I post about? Should I vary my content? All right, so I’ll post only baby pictures for the next week, not another word about my novel! But oh crap, I’ve posted so many baby pictures and have received so few likes: is the world getting sick of the baby?

I worry about what time of day I post a status update. Will it be lost in the crowd if posted too early or too late? Before noon? After 6 PM? The last time I posted an update about my blog on Facebook, Boston suddenly went on lockdown and the world was atwitter over the cinematic search for the second bomber…needless to say, zero people were interested in my unrelated update. So: do I wait for moments/ days when nothing is happening, and hope my updates are read?

And—as a general rule—what day of week is best for a posting? Certainly not Friday, right? But wait, Friday is the day to slack at work…so Friday, right? That’s when everyone will be on Facebook the most. And man, I just thought of a great status update to post, but I just made that last post about my novel an hour ago, and so…am I contributing to my own posting’s quick expiration if I post again too soon? Better hold off, better hold off. Time it just right, Nathan.

*

All of this, I admit, is ridiculous. A real writer—a serious writer—would not worry about such things.

A real writer would write. A real writer would tackle the necessary marketing tasks with professionalism rather than doubt. And then a real writer would go back to writing.

Can you imagine Norman Mailer like-watching? Cormac McCarthy? All those “men’s men” authors I mentioned in my last post? Can you imagine Hemingway considering whether he is a giver or a taker, or even making a status update about his new book, worrying whether anyone bought it? (Side-note: I haven’t read a biography of Hemingway. Maybe he was super self-conscious? Maybe that’s why he killed himself? Hmmm. Reconsidering.)

And yet here I am, on the morning that Beating Windward Press has revealed to the Facebook world the different cover concepts for American Fraternity Man. Typing this blog post, then checking Facebook. Back and forth, back and forth, like-watching, examining who has commented, who has said what, then silently admonishing myself for caring, for reducing friend to consumer.

And then, of course, wondering what my next update will be, and when.

It’s enough to get me fantasizing once again about the sweet freedom of deleting my Facebook profile…But then, of course, how would I update the world about my novel?

Previous Essay: Facebook Anxiety

Marketing My Writing: Part 1

The following is the first essay in a series (that I might or might not continue to write) exploring my own curiosity and dread at having to market my first novel.

“Facebook Anxiety”

Every time that I hear of someone deactivating or deleting their Facebook profile, I give a silent “whoo-hoo!” and/or “you go, girl!” (depending on gender). The thought of untethering myself from the world of social networking, allowing myself to float free and to drift away from constant phone and iPad monitoring, is exciting and liberating: a life where one portal has closed, and where my energy can now be directed at things that matter. When I hear that someone else has successfully accomplished this, it’s akin to hearing that someone has sold all their possessions and moved to Alaska, or that someone has given up Diet Coke and coffee.

Just imagine the beauty of your world without Facebook…never again scrolling down your “newsfeed” on a Friday night to see how much more fun the entire world seems be having than you…never again witnessing real-time photos from friends who seem to be on constant honeymoons while you work under fluorescent lights all day…never again getting bombarded by pictures of what everyone else is cooking at any given time…never again suffering through another election season (do I need to describe this?) or seeing another fucking Willy Wonka meme.

Imagine this world. This has got to be one of the most common first-world, middle-class fantasies these days (and therefore deserves some sort of hashtag, whereby I register my complaint with my frivolous issue, but also mask it with self-awareness at my frivolousness…the hashtag offers a nice balance).

But it’s fantasy. For each of us who still logs in to Facebook regularly, there’s something keeping us there. Maybe it’s the pure “social” function of the site, its ability to connect you with a friend from high school, or with an old family member. Maybe it’s the creepy ability to keep tabs on an old ex-boyfriend, or a co-worker or subordinate, or to learn more about those you only barely know in person, to see their lives in ways that you never imagined…Maybe it’s become your newssource, and how the hell would you know what’s happening in the world if you didn’t follow the feed, follow the reactions, and follow the story links?

And ironically, it is for this reason that Facebook has become a hotspot for many writers. Like, literary writers. Yeah, I know. Sounds weird. The stereotypical writer who boards herself up in some cold cabin and pounds out a manuscript on a centuries-old typewriter and refuses visitors and barely even knows what it’s like to have a conversation with a living, breathing human being anymore because she’s, like, deep into the world of her poetry…well, she’s got a Facebook page. And man, it’s crazy the things she “likes”: Amazon, The Loft, Taco Tuesdaze at Tijuana Flats.

Facebook has allowed me to connect with more other writers than I ever thought possible, many of whom I’ve never met in person but whose work I read and follow, and who—in turn, maybe?—follow my own work. I’ve become familiar with the journals they edit, the schools at which they teach, the new stories and poems and essays they publish. I spend too much time following links to sites I’ve never heard of, reading work that I never would’ve known existed…and I’ve bookmarked what seems like a thousand stories and articles that I know I’ll never get a chance to read.

More on this in another post. It deserves to be talked about, the way that Facebook has opened up my reading habits to new authors and to great online reading…For now, though, it’s only important to know that—for writers—this sort of interaction and connection (and this ability to share our work, and to develop readers in a truly intimate way) is pretty much what we’ve always wanted. How amazing to know that you can post a link to a new published story, and someone can read it on his/her lunchbreak, and then comment on your link and say “Awesome stuff! Love that story.” Immediate reader reaction. Immediate knowledge that someone else out there actually read your work, that you didn’t just publish a piece in some magazine or journal based out of New Hampshire that (for all you know) no one has or will ever read. I can’t overstate this: it’s incredible.

So why the hell does it also make me so anxious? It’s incredible, yes, but why lately do I feel paralyzed with Facebook, nervous about every single posting I make, about who comments, about who “likes,” about when it’s all right to make another posting, and when I should vary my subject matter in my status updates…? Why, these days, do I spend more time worrying about my contributions to Facebook than actually reading or contributing?

*

Maybe this question is easy to answer.

My novel, American Fraternity Man, will be a physical object in just a month.

And lately, I’ve been terrified not just at the prospect that the thing will soon have real readers, people who will take issue with Page 5 and Page 35 and the entire scene from pages 67-90, and the acknowledgements page, and the author photo, and…shit, do all writers feel this way? I’d like to think so, that ours is a shared anxiety at reception…But anyway, I’ve been terrified not just at the prospect of readers, but at the soon-to-be-constant Facebook postings I’ll need to make about the sale of my novel.

readings

I know, I know. We need another hashtag about White People Problems or something. Life is soooo tough for poor little me, and why don’t I go back to my beautiful baby and hot wife and mold-free house (and fantastic Florida weather) and just drink my craft beers and watch an episode of Mad Men and just shut up? And, like, seriously, it must be so rough to have a book coming out, right? Poor me. Etc.

But when one considers that I spent nearly seven years writing, revising, then submitting this book to publishers and literary agents, then writing, revising, and re-submitting, etc., it’s at least a little understandable that I might be anxious and/or apprehensive about the book’s reception, right? It’s not like I pooped this thing out over the weekend, and it’s no big deal what happens I hit flush. (#bestmetaphorever) Seven years of work, and ultimately, what if it’s received with the sound of one hand clapping? The book doesn’t sell. And my readings and “release parties” go sparsely attended. And all of the friends who I’d thought would support it—from family to groomsmen to colleagues to former students to fellow writers—ignore me and get upset at my annoying postings? (And side-note: does this make me “not a real writer”? When I publish something, should I have some sort of Hemingway “I’m too good for the world, and fuck the readers if they don’t appreciate me!” type of literary lion toughness? Somehow I don’t think Cormac McCarthy or Richard Russo have these sorts of worries.)

But hell, I worry about this crap all the time. Last Fall, I created a Facebook event for my “32th birthday.” (An irrelevant birthday needed a grammatical error in order to feel fun.) I took the self-deprecating route in order to not really care whether my birthday was a big deal or not: I’m gonna go drink beer and eat bratwursts at my favorite German restaurant, so, like, come to celebrate my irrelevant birthday if you want…if not, whatever…I mean, it’s 32…who cares, you know?

But the book is not an irrelevant birthday: the book has become this lofty object, this symbol of my own writing career, a surefire litmus test of whether I’ve got any readership, any audience interested in my work, any reason to continue. It’s become a confirmation or denial of the seven years spent working on the project. Should I have just taken up golf lessons instead? Should I have learned how to draw caricatures, or tended bar and made a boatload of cash? Should I have used those seven years to instead finally paint the scratched door to my office? Oh man, the possibilities.

Because here’s the problem with Facebook, the reason it causes me to worry so much (even with my 32th birthday, to be honest). And it’s the exact same reason that writers love the site so much. Once you create and post something on Facebook, from a status update to a link to an event, it records the tangible reaction to that creation. And that shit can sting. Put another way, it offers hard data about how much the world cares about you. Write a status update about a life event (marriage, new job, first attempt at cooking beignets), and it will tell you how many people “like” it. Better yet, it’ll tell you precisely who liked your update. Did your wife find your update funny? Did your best friend? Or did you only manage to cull the favor of those whose own updates you’ve never really liked? Oh God, my only “like” was T—— or R——-. NOOOOO! Time for a divorce, or time to quit the new job, or whatever.

Next Up: “Like-Watching,” and Facebook Givers/Takers

American Fraternity Man – Pre-Sale and Chapbooks

I haven’t written much about this subject on this blog yet, but that will change very soon…

My first novel, American Fraternity Man, will be released this May. And yes, it’s required summer reading for anyone who makes it a point to read a novel during the summer months.

Are you curious about the book? I hope so. If not, I can be mysterious, and make passing references to sex and alcohol and parties and conspiracies (“This book’s got it all!”), etc. I can also say cryptic comments in the movie-trailer voice (“One man. One mission. One book.” Etc.).

But the best way to learn more about the book is to come to There Will Be Words this coming Tuesday (April 9), a monthly prose reading series in downtown Orlando, where I’ll read a short excerpt of the book. The excerpt has also been printed in a limited-run chapbook, available to those who (this is the exciting part) pre-order the book. That’s right! The book–starting on April 9–will officially be available for pre-order! That makes it official, methinks.

Don’t worry. That’s not the actual cover of the book, and this isn’t the actual book itself. This is just a limited-run, hand-crafted chapbook, and the illustrations come from the interior of the novel (there are some text/image moments throughout). We won’t have the photos of the cover art to share for a couple more weeks, but rest assured: I will be posting them to this blog as soon as I get them, probably because I will be bursting with excitement.

That’s all for now, though. Stay tuned for more information on the book. And consider yourself invited to There Will Be Words on Tuesday, April 9. Please help pack the room; after reading Adam Mansbach’s hilarious “Hell is My Own Book Tour,” I’m terrified of reading to empty spaces!

Functionally Literate

Had the opportunity to do a super-fun reading while I was at AWP in Boston in early March. The reading series is called Functionally Literate, hosted by the very funny (but not very tall) Jared Silvia. #burn

Check out the following link to see video of all of the readers, including Jeff Parker (who read a “found poem” of Ron Artest quotes, which was hilarious), James Fleming (who read a story about Mr. T which I probably can’t explain in a way that make sense), Don Peteroy (who read from his book “Wally”), Juliana Gray (a poet, who also read a few pieces from Erica Swanson), and David James Poissant (who read a quiet piece from the Beloit Fiction Journal, I believe, and who has continually surprises me with the range of his work).

My story was called “How To Tell Whether Your Demon Baby Needs To Go To The Doctor.” I think that was the title? Let me know what you think.

FL