The Publicity-Tour Half

“I’ll read a little from the new book, and then I’ll take questions.”

By now, he knew the passages to read. Nothing with dialogue; he always felt pressured to do voices, and all the characters ended up sounding vaguely German. Nothing too explicit or too opaque. Funny but not too funny.

All the usual suspects were in the audience today: soft-faced women who thought midlist authors had lives like rockstars minus the leather pants; young wannabe writers clutching handmade tote bags; indie bookstore supporters wearing Serious Eyeglasses; locals who’d wandered in for the free sandwiches. So exhaustingly familiar.

He felt guilty at his dislike of the people who had bought and paid for his success. Then he felt guilty for feeling guilty; wasn’t art about honesty and raw emotion? And more guilt: what did he know about real art?

We all deserve more than this.

His coffee had gone cold and oily. The Q&A was starting.

“Where do you get your ideas?” someone asked.

“From my publisher,” he almost said, but didn’t.

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