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08 July 2016 @ 09:44 pm
Living my life and doing my job, despite tragedy  
This has been a tough week for the country as well as for me. Kate's been in the hospital all week and is scheduled for another round of brain surgery on Wednesday; the murders of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and five police officers in Dallas are all over the news and social media.

At the same time, Arabella of Mars is marching toward release next Tuesday. I still hope to do my reading at Powell's Cedar Hills on Wednesday (yes, even if Kate has her surgery that day), and to travel to San Diego, Los Angeles, and New York for my readings there in the following week. I plan to be active on social media promoting it.

This feels wrong. This feels very, very wrong. How can I gallivant across the country and post excitedly about my book when there's so much tragedy at home and abroad?

The answer is that it's my job. I am a fiction writer, which is a species of entertainer. Tor pays me to entertain people, and as part of this arrangement I have made certain commitments to publicize the book in an entertaining fashion. I am a conscientious person and I will keep those commitments if at all possible.

If I were still working at Intel or McAfee I would probably not be sitting in the hospital with Kate all day the way I have been. I would probably be working at the day job, however distractedly, during the weekday. My "day job" with Tor is even more important to me than that was (though not so lucrative), so I'm going to keep doing it in the same way I would with any other day job. This may mean leaving town even though Kate's in the hospital, as long as she's stable and our friends and relatives are available to look after her, and it may mean tweeting and facebooking about the book, as long as it's done with some sensitivity (for example, I postponed the scheduled release of a humorous video in the most grievous hours after the Sterling and Castile murders).

There may be people who are offended by book promotion tweets on a day when the whole Twitterverse is in mourning over the latest senseless deaths. There may be people who find it heartless of me to sing and tell jokes while my wife is in the hospital. But this is something I have to do, and not just for Tor or for Kate but for myself.

I have been working toward this day, the release of my first novel, for over ten years. If I had to pass it up, even for as important a reason as this, I would be devastated. Kate wants me to do it, and do it up right. And Kate's psychologist told me just a few minutes ago that it's important for both of us... that anything I can do to bring me joy and boost my energy will help me help her in the long run. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and if I have to take some time and energy for myself now I will have more to give her later.

So. I will be doing my very best to appear at Powell's Cedar Hills in Beaverton on July 13, and Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego on July 15, and Shades & Shadows in Los Angeles on July 16, and KGB in New York on July 20. (There are more events planned after that, but this is as far ahead as I can see right now.) There will be singing and costumes and giveaways. I will strive to entertain, to bring some smiles and laughter into this time which is so very difficult for all of us.

I hope that you will join me.
Debbie N.wild_irises on July 9th, 2016 04:56 am (UTC)
You Are a Hero
I salute you, and I hope to see you (though I imagine not Kate) in the Bay Area in August.

The one unsolicited piece of advice I am going to give you is to entertain, and bring smiles and laughter, when that feels right for you, and not to feel compelled to do so when that doesn't feel right to you. It's okay to be a writer on a celebratory book tour who also has complicated, difficult, negative feelings some of the time.
David D. Levinedavidlevine on July 9th, 2016 05:02 am (UTC)
Re: You Are a Hero
Thanks for that reminder! ::hug::
Geri Sullivangerisullivan on July 9th, 2016 05:02 am (UTC)
Re: You Are a Hero
Everything wild_irises just wrote. Every single word of her unsolicited advice.


I leave Deb & Mike's that day, but I will try very hard to be at KGB in New York on the evening of July 20.
the laughing leaping waterminnehaha on July 24th, 2016 11:29 am (UTC)
Re: You Are a Hero

martianmooncrab: pic#59898509martianmooncrab on July 9th, 2016 09:34 am (UTC)
If Kate has told you to go ahead with the book tour, then do it.
A Wandering Hobbitredbird on July 9th, 2016 01:03 pm (UTC)
On any day, some people are mourning senseless deaths.

They are right to mourn, but other people are right to go on. And even the mourners may want things to lighten their lives, the chance to think about something other than loss and anger.

You do what you need to do. Take the time that you need, for yourself and Kate.
Kalimac: puzzlekalimac on July 9th, 2016 01:39 pm (UTC)
"This is a marathon, not a sprint." Excellent way of putting it. Sure, do your reading on Wednesday. I assume the surgery will be relatively early in the day and that the reading is in the evening. So you'll see Kate in recovery, and after that she'll still be too out of it for a while to need your active presence, so go display your shiny new feathers, which will please her as well as yourself, not to mention the audience. You can tell her all about it the next morning.

As far as senseless tragedies in the larger world go, those are no less senseless and tragic when they happened a long time ago as when they happened yesterday. Pause, mourn, absorb, and then continue doing other things, and remember. Sometimes it's good, too, to do other things as a way to absorb. Asimov was scheduled to give a public lecture the evening of JFK's assassination. It was packed. People needed this.

They need fiction, too. What practical good does fiction do? None, really, viewed so utilitarianist. What it does is enrich our lives, bringing and helping us understand meaning, as well as simply "entertaining" us from being bored or depressed.

joycemocha on July 9th, 2016 04:27 pm (UTC)
Yes. I have been thinking of both of you throughout all of this. And keep remembering the words of Kate's psychologist--at this point, it's not just for you, it's for the both of you.
Timapparentparadox on July 9th, 2016 04:29 pm (UTC)
When I was a programmer at a game company, I first was worried that I wasn't doing something meaningful. Then I realized that bringing enjoyment to people's lives is very meaningful.

Yes, we need people who will work to change problems in the world. We also need people who will give us reasons to keep going, to lighten our lives for a bit which will give us strength to continue.
wild_patiencewild_patience on July 9th, 2016 10:37 pm (UTC)
Yes, it's your job, and in the midst of tragedy, we need something lighter so we don't implode. Keep doing what you're doing.

I've been praying for Kate. If she would find that comforting, please tell her. If it makes her uncomfortable, don't tell her.
katybeth on July 12th, 2016 12:04 am (UTC)
Thinking of both of you.
librarygrrl: bowtiesshandralyn on July 13th, 2016 08:54 pm (UTC)
Many, many hugs to you and Kate! I was sad that my duties as Fan Tables head kept me from your reading at Westercon. I've been looking forward to the release of Arabella of Mars ever since I heard you read the beginning of it several years ago. I will be getting the book, continuing to talk it up to my friends, putting it on the library Staff Picks shelf and hope that it does really well!! It sounds like you're doing your absolute best to balance family and work, and I admire you for it. Take care!
Allanallanh on July 16th, 2016 05:07 am (UTC)
Please know that even after a crappy travel day, I have been immensely cheered up just knowing that a copy of Arabella was automatically downloaded to my Kindle App today. I plan to sit down with her over the weekend to counter my "event drop" from the past couple of weeks.

And the more successful Arabella becomes--and I expect her to become VERY successful!--the happier Kate will be (and all of your friends and family), and happiness makes for better healing.

the laughing leaping waterminnehaha on July 24th, 2016 11:30 am (UTC)
Kate is clearly your partner in this.