Four weeks and two days ago The Weight of Sound left the safety of my brain (and my Macbook) and entered the real world. It’s hard to explain what it’s like, to carry a thing around inside you for years and then see it walking around with strangers. It’s much different than releasing a record: the longest any band I was in ever had to make an album was a month. The drummer usually finishes first, and spends the rest of the time reading MIX magazine and waiting for dinner.
As of yet, though, I am not feeling the novelist’s version of postpartum depression. That may be partly due to the fact I have been busy doing all the other stuff writers get to do during their days: wash laundry, cook dinner, manage children, and figure out how to survive seventy hours without electricity. Depression has also been kept at bay with events in support of the book’s release; so far I have been lucky enough to talk about, and read from, The Weight three times. In front of other people, even, some of whom I didn’t know.
One of my biggest lessons from appearing in public without the safety net of a drumset: you can learn a lot from a great question. In Athens, Kim Ware (of The Good Graces) and I spent an hour talking (both of us) and singing (just her). At one point we digressed into a discussion of the value and challenge of bridges, those sections of a song that aren’t verses or choruses. They usually appear in the second half, and usually bring out some new musical themes. During the Q & A, someone asked if I thought books could also have bridges, and if so, did mine? The answer to the first was Yes—in fact, I’d just talked about that very idea with a fellow writer/drummer, Jacob Slichter, specifically in connection with Everything I’m Cracked Up To Be, a fantastic rock memoir by Jen Trynin.
The answer to the second question took me a moment to answer, but I decided yes there, as well: Chapter Eight, an answer I have become more convinced of the more I think about it. I won’t go into the reasons in detail, in case you have somehow stumbled across this website without reading the book yet, but it was a new insight, and only came because a stranger asked me a question.
What else have I learned?
*When you’re going to read from your book, making little pencil notes in the text to remind you of those tricky spots really pays off. And don’t forget: always read slower than you think you need to.
*Water is your friend. Always have your friend close when you are talking in public.
*It’s impossible not to read reviews, so forgive yourself for doing so, and only take the good bits personally.
*And lastly, but perhaps most importantly: a great way to distract yourself from worrying about what will or won’t happen to this book, now that it is out in the world, is to throw yourself into the next one.