First, an announcment: I will be speaking at the Connnetquot Library on Long Island this Wednesday night, March 30, at 7PM. Come and see my multi-media extravaganza: slides, props, and, uh, some more slides.
Now, where we we?
When Top Cat and I were in France we re-lived our glory days by doing some hitch-hiking. This is a quick sketch I made of T.C. thumbing us a lift to Mont St-Michel in Brittany.
It was just a sketch — but once we got home, I painted it and ended up using it in the Damn France Book. Only, as you can see, there was a problem with that weird right hand there. So, now that it’s almost time for me to make the Damn France Book a permanent part of Franco-American literature, I have to fix that weird bit of anatomy.
Luckily, I am left handed. So I can draw my own right hand:
The right size for my right hand was 25% of the original (which, as you can see, was pretty tiny to begin with).
And then I re-draw the teeny tiny right hand along with the whole arm, and I attach it to Top Cat. Problem is, now he has two thumbs. I have to get rid of the old thumb from the old weird old right hand.
And that’s how it’s done.
If I hadn’t told you, you’d never know.
Now, about the blurb situation: a writer friend of mine says that “ blurbs are like negative campaigning. Everyone says ‘oh, I hate that,’ and yet it works, every single time.”
So although it’s unanimous here in Vivian World that we hate blurbs, the reality is that if I get the dream blurb of a lifetime for the Damn France Book it’s going right smack on the front cover in big, bold letters. Because although every single one of us here in Vivian World know ourselves and our reading tastes and are not influenced by the opinion of others’, we are a very select, discerning, self-confident, good-looking, witty, irresistibly gorgeous, and SMALL group of people.
If a writer wants to keep writing and illustrating her books about staying put, and wandering in France, and rainy days, and cats, and a Scottish Winter, she has to sell books to the kind of people who only pick up books because of the blurb from a famous, talented, generous, beloved author.
And if I ever get to the chance to become a famous, talented, generous, beloved author you can bet that I will do my bit for the book business and blurb like crazy whenever I am asked.
Oh, how I would love to leave my own blurb on the Damn France Book– but I couldn’t trust that enough readers would get the joke, and I really really want to do more books — about rainy days, cats, and how much I love to go to Scotland in the January. So I’ll keep checking my email every ten minutes for that desperately longed-for/answer to my prayers message from my dream blurber that says Yes, I’ll blurb your Damn France Book.
But until that day, I’ll take heart in this story (from Shelf Awareness, Friday March 25, 2011):
A good blurb is hard to find. In 1874, Chatto & Windus asked Samuel Clemens for “a brief but quotable review” of Nuggets and Dust Panned Out in Californiaby Dod Grile, a pseudonym for Ambrose Bierce.
The publisher, however, underestimated the brutal honesty of Clemens, who replied, “Dod Grile (Mr. Bierce) is a personal friend of mine, & I like him exceedingly–but he knows my opinion of the Nuggets & Dust, & so I do not mind exposing it to you. It is the vilest book that exists in print–or very nearly so. If you keep a ‘reader,’ it is charity to believe he never really read that book, but framed his verdict upon hearsay. Bierce has written some admirable things–fugitive pieces–but none of them are among the Nuggets. There is humor in Dod Grile, but for every laugh that is in his book there are five blushes, ten shudders and a vomit. The laugh is too expensive.”
Which makes me wonder: If you’d given your manuscript to a friend who told you the god-honest truth about how much he hated it, a la Mark Twain, would you be grateful for his honesty? Or would that friend be dead to you?