Thursday, January 02, 2014

How I cope with the social media cravings, and in which I begin to become a blogger once again...

It's my third Wedding Anniversary today. Amanda and I are in Boston, and there's a blizzard warning. We have our house in Cambridge for another five days. Amanda goes to Australia on Saturday morning.

Two days in to Neil off Social Media, and it's interesting. I've a novel I'm reading on my phone's Kindle app, and whenever I would have been tempted to go and look at my Twitter Feed or Tumblr or Facebook, I read Gene Wolfe's THE LAND ACROSS instead. This is a good thing because 1) it is a very good book, and 2) it reminds me of the joy and power of fiction and 3) it distracts me from what had become a very automatic thing to do.

I wrote a rather sad email to friends yesterday, about not going to Australia, which is what I'd planned to do in January: accompany Amanda to Sydney, where she is playing in the Festival, and then on to Melbourne. I have people I was looking forward to spending time with, and things I was looking forward to doing... and then Amanda's book deadline moved (she's writing a book) and we both knew that if I went with her, she wouldn't make her deadline: when we're together we talk and we do things and we spend time together and are nice social human beings, when apart we are driven lunatics who make art.

My friend Kelly Fogarty wrote back from Melbourne and said, "If you're sad today you're only creating a memory of sadness for whenever you think of your last day with Amanda before she comes out here. People keep telling me that the way you spend January 01 is indicative of the rest of your year. If you spend it surrounded by sadness rather than excitement about both your upcoming adventures then where's the fun in that, or anything, for the rest of 2014?"

.... and I looked around. The contents of the house in Cambridge that's been our home together for 14 months is mostly in boxes right now, preparing to be moved out. But yesterday, the first of the year, our friends Rachel (from the Army of Broken Toys) and her partner Clare got married in the house: they decorated it with lights and string and repurposed ancient musical scores, and made it more beautiful in a day than we ever had when we were there.

The wedding was wonderful, the house was filled with happy people, the music was wonderful, I was having marvelous conversations with glorious folk dressed in their best clothes, and cocktails  and punch and mulled cider were being drunk, and you could feel the love and fellowship and joy in the air. I even danced with my wife. I thought about writing a wedding, one filled with love and joy. I think I will (although it is true that when I told Amanda the wedding plot that was in my head, a mysterious murder happens in the middle of it).

I couldn't think of a better way to start a year, surrounded by joy and warmth and love. I hope that 2014 is a gentle year -- many amazing things happened in my world in 2013, but there were too many deaths, too many small tragedies. I'll take love and fellowship and twinkly lights and brown-paper decorations.


It's been a while since I've answered questions from the FAQ line here, mostly because the things coming in mostly stopped being things that could be answered, while people were really good on Twitter or Tumblr about asking easily answerable questions. But for at least the first six months of this year, questions and answers are going to be here. And look, a question I can answer. So...

Is it true you are selling your Minneapolis home and buying a house in Cambridge? If yes, WHY?

Nope. The house in Cambridge was the one we moved into last November, mostly to be near to Amanda's friend Anthony while he went through chemotherapy. We rented it, and we're moving out in a few days.

We're planning on buying a house together in New York state right now.

I've no plans to sell the house near Minneapolis. It's such a happy place in my life and in my heart: it's where my children grew up. It has the best library ever. In the long term, I may well make it a Writers Retreat for writers who mostly aren't me.

I love it, and spent over 20 years making it somewhere I wanted to be and wanted to write, but had never planned to die there. That was my home. The new place will be my house and Amanda's house. I'm happy to have the adventure of building a life and a home together.


I just got a delighted email from Rosemary Brosnan, my editor at Harper Childrens, to tell me that FORTUNATELY, THE MILK is now is its 15th week on the various bestseller lists. I love that it seems now to have become one of those books that sells through word of mouth, through people telling each other they ought to read it, that it's funny, that kids are staying up late and reading it under the covers with flashlights, that adults have discovered it's funny if you're an adult, that kids are reading aloud to their parents, all that...

So, as a thank you to all of you who have bought it or read it or told each other about it, here's a picture nobody's ever seen in this form. The art that Skottie Young did to convince my publishers that he would be right to draw the book:

Which Skottie wound up colouring in and making into the cover. Because it was perfect.


And finally, here is the amazing Lady Rizo, singing a song by me (with chords by Amanda) on her first solo album. She has a remarkable voice, and if you ever get the chance to see her, you will not regret it...

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