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Every Debut Novelist’s Big Day

My week as a guest blogger for Powell's is ending. I thank you all for following along and Powell's for having me. I am now ending a week of strange parties and handshakes and fluorescent lights. The Javitz Center is essentially an ugly space ship, which was clearly designed to transport colonists to other planets.

Image credit: Miki Johnson, via Matchstick

As everyone was packing up I begged books off publishers and scammed more journals off Leuchterm. Then I helped Red Lemonade and Richard Nash fold rugs and tables, tape boxes and pack it all back to Brooklyn. So rock 'n' roll. No sleep. Beige pillows. Scraps of paper everywhere. The future of publishing. Half rickshaw, half RSS feed — all glory.

As a debut novelist, I'd hoped that the week of Zazen's release would feel like a celebration. It has. Better yet, I haven't had have to throw a book party for me and my teddy bear (here, teddy bear, it's your very own copy) or read to strangers on the subway while they were trapped between stops. Instead, tonight I will read at a wonderful Brooklyn bookstore called WORD with Lynne Tillman. Lynne Tillman, like Kio Stark, is a Red Lemonade sister of mine.

After reading, I will sign books. The problem is I still don't know what people want me to write. I have frequently been in the position of having to sell books (thank you, Powell's), and I try as often as I can to give someone else a chance to make a few dollars that way. I figure if I ever slip into notoriety as a writer, a signed copy is worth more than a dedicated copy if they have to sell it. So, I like signing better than dedicating. But then it seems distant, and, it turns out not everyone has to sell books as frequently as I do. Some people have real jobs. And so, perhaps, a dedication is better. Tonight I will be experimenting. I love it, though. I love the unknowable destination of publishing right now, on the verge of something new (transformative? disastrous?) and sailing without a map. It's a great time to be a writer.

Trust me, the whale is harmless. Really.

÷ ÷ ÷

Vanessa Veselka is a writer and musician living in Portland, Oregon. She has been, at various times, a teenage runaway, a sex-worker, a union organizer, a student of paleontology, an expatriate, an independent record label owner, a train-hopper, a waitress, and a mother. Her work has appeared in Bust, Bitch, Maxmum Rock 'n' Roll, Yeti magazine and Tin House. Zazen is her first novel.

Books mentioned in this post

Vanessa Veselka is the author of Zazen

2 Responses to "Every Debut Novelist’s Big Day"

    Percy May 27th, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    I'm sure your book will be a smashing debut success. I mean, you were once a teenage runaway AND a waitress? I once spent 3 months in Europe after getting a degree in Anthropology from a prestigous Oregon State University! Who's your agent?

    Sesshu Foster August 10th, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Terrific blogging---thanks, and best of luck with ZAZEN!

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