Having returned from Lake Tahoe where I was leading a Sierra Nevada College workshop, I had a sweet day off with my beloved. I’d like to say I was productive, but I was not. Well, I guess that depends on what “productive” means.
I binge-watched TV shows I missed like a boss. Made excellent coffee. Read a mystery book. Spent quality time with my ridiculous little dog. But mostly, hung out with Cinderella. I had this one day before the madness of The House of Broken Angels publication and subsequent tour begins.
The next day, Friday, I spent in the recording studio narrating the audiobook. I actually managed to burn through well over 100 pages of text in one marathon day. I was feeling like a rock star— feeling like David Bowie, but with more boring clothes.
I often tell my writing students they need to read their work aloud, if only once. There are many reasons for this. If you are reading this blog, you probably know my quasi-mystical outlook. Writing is, after all, a visual representation of the ancient ritual of storytelling. (I’ll tell you more about this in our on-going conversation here). On a more practical level, reading your work out loud reveals all the places in your text that are garbled, weak or simply awkward. And boy, do those little roadblocks show up in the recording studio! But guess what? It’s too late to do anything about it. You have a producer who holds you to the exact printed text. No jazz improv here.
It is haunting and mysterious to feel your story come through like something new. Your characters surprise you. Your memories can wound you, or amuse you. There are moments when you think, “Did I write that?” However, because you sit in one position on a stool for eight straight hours, you also think, “Boy, does my butt hurt!”
I’m pretty sure the audiobook will be released in tandem with the print one (March 6). Cindy once told me these recordings are valuable for one reason: After I am gone, I will still be able to tell my grandchildren stories. It makes you a bit misty. Hope the kids are old enough before they listen to grandpa tell some of the questionable shenanigans in this new book!
School starts back this week and I’ll be back in the studio next Friday after my classes at UIC are done.
So far the ground seems well prepared for my fiction seeds to be planted. Blurbs were generous (thank you), early reviews and prepub buzz has been heartening ( thank you), the book seems to be sneaking onto lists of anticipated reads (thank you). This tends to spread joy around Team Urrea. We are pretty happy. And so excited to share with you.
I couldn’t give any more heart’s blood to write a book and I resolve to write more trivial books … one day. It’s just that this book — and the next book — are a little deep for me. Soaked in my own blood and tears. Fortunately, the next book is more epic in scope, action packed and historical. Though it too has deep roots in the essence of who I am, all the adventure will buffer the soul a bit.
I think there’s a big wind coming. Got to make sure we can navigate the next few months. Glad you will be taking this trip with me.