How about if I start every entry by saying what a good time I had the night before and then telling you that I am en-route to another destination? Well, on the train from Philly, and I did indeed have a really great time at the Free Library last night (that is, once again, a great time seeing folks after the reading). The Free Library is also an excellent building to arrive at ? it's got gravitas. And apparently the podium was very ornate, but on my side all I could see was the bottle of water and some wire. And if I'm to continue with this happy-go-lucky attitude, I also want to say that I've enjoyed guest-blogging this week. And I really, really didn't think I was going to. I much prefer to write and rewrite and obsess, and then to rewrite some more, and tweak a bit, and then to hand in (only to beg changes) whenever I do anything, instead of writing and sending and seeing it instantaneously online. About the obsessing part: Since I can't currently worry about the novel, as it's already written, I'm relegated to worrying about the reception of the novel. My dear publicist shared a very minor bit of information with me yesterday which I immediately glommed onto and began to obsess about. After I brought it up for the eighth time in two minutes she announced, in a very official and motherly tone (though much younger than me): "You've lost your knowledge privilege." That made me laugh. Apparently the wanton abuse of factoids will not be tolerated.
When I got to Philadelphia yesterday morning, I got off the plane (which I thought was on time) and strolled on down to baggage claim (see: yesterday's explanation of why I had a checked bag), and there was the literary escort waiting. (For those who don't know, when you're on book tour there are escorts who meet you at each destination to help make sure you don't spend the whole day trying to find your hotel. And they are indeed called 'escorts' which always makes someone laugh at some point. Before the event, when my very excellent escort, a wonderful retired gentleman who likes taking writers around in his mini-van a few days a month, introduced himself to my friend Susan, he said, "I am Nathan's escort this evening." And she and he and then I started laughing, because it did sound just like it sounds.) So, when I met him after disembarking from the plane, he just looked at me and said, "Go get a cab." This was confusing, as the whole point of the escort is so that you don't have to find your way in a cab. And he was standing right there, holding my book so I'd recognize him, looking like he was ready to go. And I didn't have my bag. "You're late," he said. And, apparently, I was. And I had a one hour interview on live radio coming up on the local NPR station. "Can't we wait for my luggage?" We could not wait for my luggage, in fact. The producer was calling. And panic already ensuing, and so we ran to find a cab. And since I didn't have enough cash, the escort gave me a twenty to make sure I could pay my way. Before I left he said, "What does your bag look like?" And, I gave the worst possible answer: "Black," I said. I figured that was that for my stuff. And, since the Marty Moss-Coane radio show is also taped for television, I was thrilled to be in a t-shirt with a picture on it, and a crumpled blazer. Of course there was traffic, and the producer was calling to give traffic-dodging advice and to find out how many minutes away I was, and the publicist calling, and all this accompanied by that horrible pressure to get where you need to be exactly when you need to be there even if that's looking like it's impossible. I tell you all this, because it just amazes me how much pressure can build along the way, and that you can then pull up at the station where the producer is waiting on the sidewalk, and you can be whisked through the building and dropped down into a chair, and somebody can say, "Ten seconds," and then suddenly you're live and Marty (who was an absolute pleasure to talk with) can just launch into that really smooth, calm radio voice and you find yourself in a conversation and it all feels so laid-back and natural, and no one knows that five minutes before you were pulling out clumps of hair and trying to judge if it would be faster to get out of the taxi and sprint the last few blocks.