Tag Archives: Walking Dead

The Day After Syndrome

Those of you who do any kind of travel for work will recognize this syndrome: you go to where you’ve been invited, do your stuff well and intensely for a week if you’re in a festival or at a conference, or if you’re an itinerant consultant or storyteller, several places over a month or two.

And the last night, post-reception, post-e-mail exchanges with other artists, post-follow-ups on future events you’d like to get contacts for, the last night before you go home, you walk or cab back to the hotel contemplating all the wonderful people the world holds, how glad you are you got to teach writing skills to so many students, how energizing and lovely they were, how happy and blessed you are to do this kind of work.

Entering your hotel room, the evening lies spread before you like a peacock’s tail: will you swim first, walk across to that little Greek diner and get your salad? Check your e-mails? Download and post your photos of the two schools and the festival talk you did that day?

You sit down. And that’s the last time you move, except to pick up the remote to find the latest reality TV show, and sure enough here are a bunch of decorative thirtysomethings all mad at each other for no reason you can discern, but wait, are those dead people? Oh, this is the one your friends have been talking about for the past year, but you can’t follow a thing. Why do they keep killing each other instead of the zombies?

You might also find energy enough to open that ale you bought at the beginning of the week in a fit of localvoreism but didn’t drink yet because you’ve been doing three events a day and chatting with people and you wanted to be clear-headed.

After the zombies, a rerun of a Hollywood talk show will appear. You’ll channel surf, sit through half of something called Game of Thrones–and if you thought the undead-ers were incomprehensible…. If it’s a game, why are all these people screwing each other all the time–literally?

Hi ho the glamorous life. You can get a lot done during the weeknights back at the hotel, high on events that have gone well. Discipline exists for those evenings. But that last night before you go home, just take two aspirin and go to bed hollow, drained, as if the Dump Truck of Art hit you from behind, then sped off laughing while your body lay sprawled on the pavement.

It will pass. By the time you get home, you’ll be raring to get back to your writing schedule, answer e-mails that yes, you’d LOVE to go to the next place. More cool people to meet, fun places to visit, great ideas to explore. Life comes back.

exhaustion photoIt’s okay to take that night off, the day after; regroup, recharge, relax. Just stay off social media and DON’T take any selfies. Trust me on this; no good will come of it. Put the remote in your hand, and don’t touch anything else with an On switch. This, too, shall pass.


Filed under between books, blue funks, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, publishing, reading, Uncategorized, writing, YA fiction

Train Wreck Books

I have friends who are addicted to a TV show called “Walking Dead.” They are smart people with busy lives, so I don’t judge them–in public.

Sometimes we all need a little escapism, and they keep describing some crossbow tough guy Daryl who’s actually a sensitive caring soul; he seems to be doing the trick for them.

Yet bibliophiles are not so different. Those of you who read this blog regularly will know that Jack and I are bemused by customers who simultaneously buy Christian romances and Patricia Cornwells, but we also get it. As a friend who works with criminal court cases involving the abuse of children once said, “If I can read something worse than what I see every day, it reminds me there’s still room to look down.”

In fact, friends addicted to “Walking Dead” run heavily to academics working with the next generation of students. Perhaps we’ll stop that line of speculation now. But the fact remains that people enjoy reading about the train wrecks of others, mostly because we like to remind ourselves that things could be worse than we know they are. Gives us hope. Or cynical laughter.

Sometimes, in the dark spots, those two things aren’t that different, y’know?

We greet a lot of female customers sporting casual business attire and sensible, low-maintenance haircuts, who come into our bookshop and smile at us without saying much. They browse for 20 minutes, and leave with nine Ann Rules and a Karen Kingsbury. We know from previous conversations what kinds of jobs they do. Bless them for it, and we will keep stocking the shelves with those nasty paperbacks full of train wrecks that reassure them there’s still room to drop.

Is it reassuring? Well, maybe it’s like comfort food. A Kraft Mac and Cheese box supper served warm on a plate might have repercussions later, but it feels good going down. And it gives us the strength to get out there and do what must be done.

Go, girls. We’re rooting for you. Karen Slaughter and Dean Koontz will be waiting when you need them.


Filed under book reviews, bookstore management, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, publishing