Book Release Weekend Part Two (but totally not because I’m too depressed to write part two)
Damn it, James! I waited too long to write the follow-up I promised—the Book Release Party Part Two post. By now, the excitement’s worn off. If I force myself to continue anyway, I’ll fail to summon the enthusiasm and gratitude expressed in part one. I’d either have to adopt a fallacious tone in order to facilitate a consistency of mood between parts one and two, or I could just let my current sourness usurp the optimism I’d intended on carrying through to the follow-up. The latter’s more appealing because it’ll require less work. Hell, it might be fun to defamiliarize the cheerful ground-state of my previously post by telling the rest of the story with a sense of morbid reflection: “So I got up there and read some shit. There were shadows everywhere, but they came from nowhere. Maybe these were the shadows of the literary greats who’d come before me. I swore I could hear them retching as I read. I closed my book and sat down. What else can you do in life but sit? Why stand? Nobody cares about you, or, for the love of God, fiction. Fiction! Ha! What a joke.”
In regards to writing my follow-up, I like the idea of embracing my current nihilistic state, but there’s a drawback. My disavowal of last week’s good cheer will do nothing but emphasize the tonal disparities between parts one and two. A grouchy sequel to a joyful testimony? Imagine We Bought A Zoo Part Two: The Honeymoon’s Over, Bitch! Matt Damon realizes that happiness is no more substantial than a two-week old air freshener hanging over an open sewer. He pushes Scarlett Johansson into a ravine, then sets the zoo ablaze. If I stay true to my gloom, I’ll lose the story and end up demonstrating the irrefutable evidence that I’m emotionally and philosophically inconsistent, that my feelings and world views one day are wholly incompatible with the nonsense in my head the next day.
See, everything’s been mildly shitty since October 19th. I’ve got high-class problems, so I’ll spare you the tirade. Instead, here’s some good news. I’m going to Orlando this week for something that might be considered a book tour. I don’t have a grasp on what actually constitutes a book tour. I’m doing multiple readings in a small area. Is that sufficient enough? Can you forgive me my tendency to embellish, and just agree that what I’m doing is a fucking book6 tour? I need this line on my CV. Sooner or later, I’ll have a PhD (I hope) and I’ll need a job. I want to say to my interviewers, “Did you happen to catch line 34 on my CV? You don’t recall it? Yes, I agree, there’s a lot. Well, let’s look at it. Right here; this line. Why don’t we read it together? ‘In November of 2012, Don Peteroy went on a book tour of Florida, in support of his novella, Wally.’”
Yes, the book tour is in Florida. But not all of Florida. Just Orlando. I’ll be reading at an event called Functionally Literate on November 3rd. It’s at Urban reThink, the non-profit connected with Burrow Press. I’ll be doing a reading at the University of Central Florida, and, get this, I’m attending one of the school’s undergraduate writing classes as a guest lecturer or interviewee or some kind of living, breathing, and publically accessible body of knowledge who knows a thing or two about writing a novella.
Here’s what I know, by the way: If you want to write a novella, sit down and write the shit without fucking up. And if you do fuck up, try to stop. Otherwise, when people read your novella, they’re going to think you’re an asshole or something. One person will hand your novella to another person and say, “Read this. Isn’t he an asshole?”
I’ll be doing other things, but right now, I can’t remember what. One thing, though: I’ll be looking for you. Not in an active, creepy way, but in a general, hopeful way. I’m optimistic; the likelihood of you showing up at my reading is much greater than, say, persuading Mitt Romney to sit on the steps of his local Planned Parenthood and give free hand jobs to all the men who’ve honored and respected their lovers’ dignity by going to Planned Parenthood together. If you’re interested, I’ve included in this post the day, time, and location. For my reading event. Not for Planned Parenthood hand jobs. But you’re welcome to give out free hand jobs at Planned Parenthood. If you did that, I’d truly know how you feel about me. And you’d know how a lot of horny men feel about you.
I’m back to the original question: should I go ahead and write about the rest of the book release party? I’m inclined to hold off until I’m in a better mood. Maybe once I get to Orlando, I’ll feel less melancholic.
And speaking of melancholy, I’ve written the initial drafts for my first batch of query letters to (specific) agents. I’m currently revising the letters, and finding the task rather arduous because my insecurities keep interfering. I can’t stop my mind from anticipating the difficulties I’ll face once I start asking these agents if they’d be interested in representing my novel. I’m sure you remember going though the exact same ordeal. Any words of advice? Should I look for ways to dodge the query-letter slush pile? Should I forget these letters and go “network” some more? I don’t have the money to go to Bread Loaf, or the money to pay for a 20-minute private consultation and manuscript critique with big-time agent person. I don’t have Jonathan Safran Foer’s phone number anymore. I’m doing street-level unsolicited querying. Nor do I entertain any delusions about finding myself on the receiving end of extraordinarily fortunate outcomes (though I won’t dismiss the possibility). I’ve chosen to put myself up against substantially unfavorable odds, given my choice of topic and characters. Just to give you an idea of how I’m shooting myself in the foot, here’s the rough version of the query letter’s first line:
I suppose I could do worse. I could write a memoir in which I contextualize every single fart I’ve blasted in the last year.
What I really want, James, is to see you in Florida. I want us to sit side by side in beach chairs, along the shoulder of a highway leading to Disney World. I want us to smoke cigars and laugh at the traffic. Maybe do a crossword puzzle, listen to an AC/DC cassette on a boom box, see who can fart the loudest and then offer the most high-brow Zizekian contextualization of the said fart, and then call it quits and go our separate ways.
Functionally Literate: A Literary Function.
Saturday November 3rd, 7:00PM
625 E Central Blvd, Orlando, Florida 32801
(Me. The dude who won the 2012 Playboy College Fiction Contest and wrote Wally)
JOHN HENRY FLEMING
(founding editor of Saw Palm, author, writing professor at USF)
(poet, author of Satellite Beach)
(founder of Postcard Press, Kerouac Writer in Residence)