I think that many writers have a dream that when they hit a certain point in their career, the mantle of Best Sellerdom will fall on their shoulders like some gorgeous PETA-approved fur cloak, and everyone who gazes upon them will know that they are in the presence of an author.

Or at least they'll be polite.

Yesterday afternoon, I stopped into a big bookstore in downtown D.C. to sign copies of LITTLE EARTHQUAKES.

The store was crowded. The staff was frazzled. I found a big stack of books behind the Information desk, but nobody to introduce myself to. No problem, I thought, whipping out my Sharpie and starting to sign.

About halfway through the stack, I noticed a woman staring shyly at me, and the books. I gave her a friendly, encouraging smile. She smiled back and opened her mouth, thinking that maybe she'd say that she liked GOOD IN BED, or even ask to have a copy of the new one.

"Hey," she began.

"Hi!" I said cheerfully.

She cleared her throat. "Um, can I have a token for the bathroom?"


"Sorry," I said, "I don't work here."

"Oh," she said, shrugging visibly and drifting away.

The second time it happened I started laughing. By the third time, I rooted around the desk until I found the tokens, and started handing them out. Because that's just the kind of full-service author I am!

Anyhow. The Associated Press takes notice of writers who blog, quotes me extensively, fails to mention new book. So much for weblogs as the great promotional tool of the future, huh?

I had two thoughts reading the article (three, if you count the "Gee, would it have killed them to mention LITTLE EARTHQUAKES?")

One is that I hope I didn't sound too calculating or mercenary, because I really do see this blog as much more than a big buy-my-books overshare.

It's a way for me to continue practicing a form of journalism, the way I did when I worked at newspapers. It's a way to keep in touch with you, the readers.

And, in a point I wish I'd managed to make better, it's a way to demystify the whole process of getting published, and what it's like to be a working author, with a baby, and laundry, and a life that doesn't always hew to the outlines of Happily Ever After.

There may come a time when I end this endeavor. I just finished (and was utterly devastated and blown away by) Stephen King's last book in the Dark Tower series. In the afterword, he says something about not wanting to hear from angry, disappointed readers, and how he feels his family's privacy is compromised enough already. "My books are my way of knowing you," he writes. "Let them be your way of knowing me."

If I ever get to the point where I feel like there's too much of my life, or my family's life out there, I'll pull the plug. But until then, tune in for more stories about new babies, reality TV, book tours and books I'm loving now.

And tokens for the bathroom, of course.

Thought number two: I guess Jonathan Galassi's comments about there being too many words out there already means I'm never going to be published by the smarty-pantses at Farrar Straus & Giroux.