A couple of corrections:
The Schuler Books event is at the LANSING store, not Grand Rapids. Please come to the Lansing store! I really hope to see the Detroit gang there as it’s been FOREVER since I’ve been able to get out to Michigan.
I’ll be at the Southern Festival of Books all weekend, but my panel is on SUNDAY October 14th, “Saving the World When Grown-Ups Can’t”.
I have free days in Cincinnati and Philadelphia (I have one in Chicago, too, but I’m pretty booked up socially for that one). I’m hoping some of my Cleveland friends will be up for making the drive, and that my Philly friends have some free time! (Cincinnati on the 16th, Philadelphia on the 24th.)
I’m flying out on Monday morning. This is not the longest tour I’ve ever done (Palimpsest clocked in at about 4 months total, and I don’t see anything beating that because oh god I’d die) but it’s the most packed and professional. I’ve toured on my own dime, couchsurfed, sold books out of the back of a truck. This time I get to stay in hotels like a grown-up and that is awesome. But having toured so much in my brief eight years as a professional author, I’m starting to get a handle on the things that become precious when you’re on the road. I WILL NOW TELL YOU ABOUT THEM. (In case you guys go on tour, or business trips, or whatever. If you have other advice, leave it in the comments!)
Fresh, Homecooked Food
Honestly, you eat like crap on tour. You’re in all these strange cities where you don’t know anyplace to eat well. Your schedule is so crazy you just grab whatever you can find and put it in your face. Then you end up having to sweat out your lunch in an auditorium in front of a couple of hundred kids. On the very rare occasions when you can get food that is cooked at home and not at a restaurant, or something leafy and dark green (not the anemic green of fast food salads), or anything that feels wholesome and not like another layer of extruded protein product from the labs of Pluto, your body just weeps from gratitude.
On tour, you are on all the time. You put on your best extrovert pants and smile and laugh and try to make connections. It’s great. And it’s exhausting. If you don’t find a way to be alone (and awake, sleeping doesn’t count) at least a little every day, you’ll break yourself. Or at least I will break myself. Like willpower, social shininess is a finite resource and it needs recharging. It’s part of taking care of yourself–which I am, as nine years of this blog can attest, not very good at.
As much as you need alone time, it’s always the most amazing feeling when people you’re close to, real, solid friends, show up to see you and take you for beer after. It’s like a warm bath–these are people you know how to interact with, they’re easy to be around, and they’ll understand when you can barely remember your hotel’s name. They’re a connection to your personal life, rather than your professional identity. OMG, friends are the best.
Like the Kim Stanley Robinson quote which is my new mantra says, patterns are important. Shipboard life is still life. You need some kind of patterns to carry you through. Doing yoga every morning, trying the local beer in every city, collecting some piece of kitsch from every state. Getting some original writing done, even if it’s a paragraph a day. My Clevar Plan for this tour is to figure out a knitting project that I can complete within the timeframe of the tour, yoga in my hotel in the mornings, and to write whenever I’m on a plane. Planes are boring, anyway. But you have to build in stable patterns from day one, so you can have a solid psychic base for everything else. I suppose there are personality types that don’t need this, but I am not one of them.
I’m a little nervous. This is a giant tour. I hope the second Fairyland book is as successful as the first was. When the first came out, thousands of people had already read it. This is a brand new thing. It is scary. And this tour is huge-normous. A solid month away from my husband and animals and home. (But at the end I get a new Maine Coon kitten! Complete tour; receive kitten.)
Touring is amazing. Magical things happen–straight up. I cried a lot on my last tour, just because all this love and emotional resolution stuff kept happening (helps when your tour dates are in cities you grew up in). When you see a gymnasium full of kids holding your book it’s better than any coffee you’ve ever had. But all that amazing, and all that travel can overload you, and I’m trying to find ways to recharge on the road. It’s a process. I hope to unlock that particular achievement.
I’ll try to blog while I’m gone–the issues with the wordpress posting are FINALLY fixed–I know I’ve been off the grid like whoa. I’m slowly making my way back on.
Wish me luck.