I always make these posts (example: the last one) with the idea that I can just link people to them when a request comes in. But? So far, I’ve yet to do that even once, I think. I remember years back, I wrote someone for a blurb, and they sent me this response—not canned—detailing what-all they had going on, what blurbs they were already doing, and it went a while, but it all meant no, and I felt bad that I’d taken them away from fiction for the many minutes it took to compose that message.
Trick is, though? I find myself doing the same thing. It’s like a little shot of guilt each morning, a voice in the back of my head telling me that if I don’t help this writer out as I’ve been helped myself, then I’m not paying back into the system, it can all collapse, disaster disaster.
At the same time, you can’t do everything. Was talking with a friend who was backstage at the Stephen King / George RR Martin event a while back, and they said GRRM asked King how does he make it through the day, with everyone constantly tugging on his sleeve. King’s answer: “I say no. A lot.”
That is the path to sanity, I believe. It’s not a guilt-free path, but, some weeks, some months, any path is the good path, too.
All of which is to say: had a few months in Spring, bleeding over into Summer, where I could wedge the calendar open enough to blurb a bit—which is great. I love doing it. Feels like cheating, getting to read next season’s stuff now.
At the same time, I kind of had all these deadlines in the air, and when people would call about them—I never miss, but still—I’d always be secretly factoring in all this blurb-reading I was doing, and I could see that, in order to blurb this book and make this deadline, I was going to have to trade in other pieces of my life.
That can work for a while, but pretty soon you realize you need those pieces of your life you’re cashing in. At least I do. I don’t regret any blurbs I’ve given, but I do regret a walk I didn’t take with my dog, say, or going back and dipping into The Great Gatsby, just to see if it’s changed in the thirty years since I first read it.
Long preamble for a short decision: this coming year’s so slampacked that I’m going to have to beg off blurbing, I think. Or, how about: I’ll try—try try try—to do only four, say. That’s one every three months. And I’ll give priority to debut books (that are already under contract), and writers I haven’t blurbed before. And I’ll try not to say sure to friends. And I’ll probably fail at that, because, you, know: they’re my friends, they’d do it for me if I asked. And, if each books takes a quarter of the year/three months, then, if I’m already reading a book for this or that three months, I won’t take another on, or schedule the next, either. And, my agent’s offered to wrangle blurb-requests for me, so, I’ll try to set up an auto-forward or something for any requests that come my way (probably keying on “blurb” being in the body or subject line of the message), such that they funnel her direction instead.
All with the hope that, if this post at least exists, even if I never link anyone to it, then . . . I can get more writing done? more living in?
They’re kind of the same, really.
So, I’m letting the blurb-horse graze out into the pasture for the year. It’ll get shaggy with winter, its hooves will grow too long, it’ll become skittish around people, but I trust that, if I shake the feed bucket and wear a shirt it remembers, it’ll come back to the barn eventually, and I can step up onto its back once more, see what the world looks like from up there.