On Disappointment

(I am aware I have been quiet for some time. I went to Stonecoast, graduated with my MFA, then had to record the audiobook for Ghost Train to New Orleans for six days straight, so I’m pretty beat. I’ll have a podcast update soon.)

I’m going to be careful with the details here, but I try to be honest about my career, even when there are downturns. So I’m not going to name names. People who know me can probably figure things out, but don’t guess in the comments. You can ask me privately if you like. But bad/annoying/disappointing stuff happens and we need to talk about it.

It’s said time and again, that you don’t Arrive when you get that agent, or when you get that book deal, or when the book comes out, or even when you win an award. You’re always fighting upstream, and whenever something great happens, like winning an award or gearing up for your second book launch, life will tend to try to knock you out of your groove with something shitty.

Anyway, I – through the proper channels, namely Orbit’s awesome publicist – tried to get a book event at a non-local indie book store that I like very much. They agreed, sent me possible dates, I chose one, and made my plan to drive to [REDACTED.] Today I found out that, hm, no, wait, they don’t want to do it anymore. They’ve pulled out. Canceled. GO AWAY MUR.

They are worried I won’t draw enough local interest.

The punchline is that this book store is probably the best indie bookstore that is closest to my hometown.* Local interest, indeed.

I don’t know if they know I’m from a town nearby. I am not sure if the publicist knows this. I probably should have told her; I didn’t even think to. But she told me they’re firm. No book event.

(This store recently hosted an old college buddy of mine who turned out to be an author too. But he writes literary fiction. Out of respect for my Stonecoast friends, I will refrain from any rude comments here. I didn’t even italicize literary. I feel like I’m growing as a person here.)

It’s not the end of the world, of course. I do have a reading at Boskone in 3 weeks, and I’m having a book launch in March at the awesome Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, and am planning at least one other local event. I’m going to be around, in public. It’s cool. Also I’ve had other authors commiserate with me that this has happened to them too, and it does indeed suck. So I’m not alone in the “HAHA JUST KIDDING NO BOOK EVENT FOR YOUUUUUU” situation.

But damn. This is my second (pro) book. It got a good review from Publishers Weekly. I won the Campbell last year. I’m not about to drunkenly stumble up to them and scream “Don’t you know WHO I AM?” but it’s times like this that make me realize that there will be times in my life, over and over again, where I feel like that newbie writer who can’t get a break.** It’s depressing. And humbling. But what can I do except do the usual rejection treatment***, and get back to writing?

*¬†Granted, it’s still a bit of a drive from my town to said store. I’m from a VERY small town in the mountains. Everything is a bit of a drive.
** People told me I had to stop saying that I was a “wannabe writer” in my podcast. Times like this put me right back into that feeling.
*** Red wine. Blanket. Feeling sorry for self. Tomorrow morning, we’re done, and we’re acting like a pro again, what with the writing and the podcasting and stuff. But for tonight, well, poop.

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6 Responses to On Disappointment

  1. Hey Mur, just wanted to commiserate on the book event being cancelled, and to heap some positive praise onto your lap. I’ve been a listener/fan for a while now, and have really enjoyed everything you’ve put out. I have fits and starts with the podcast, but I’m up to my ears in podcasts and things come and go, but you always pull reel me back in, which I appreciate.

    I just wanted to respond to people about the “wannabe writer” thing, because, truthfully, you still are a wannabe writer. Now, wait listen, hear me out. I think we’re all wannabe writers. Sure, you’re a published author, but I would bet that you wannabe something more, it doesn’t have to be a Neil Gaiman, or a JK Rowling (sorry first two examples), but you want to be something more, something better than what you are. I think, at least for me, that’s what drives me. I can be satisfied in completing something, mostly for the sake of sanity, but I know that I want the next thing I write to be even better.

    Anyway, keep up the great work, keep wanting to be the writer you wannabe, and congrats on completing your MFA.

    All the best,
    Joshua Garratt

  2. Nora says:

    That sucks and that bookstore’s managers are utter idiots who will be kicking themselves very hard (if they ever get around to doing their homework on you).

    Tangentially: Any chance of a reading/event-thing in New York ever? Betting you could drum up a good turn-out here… I mean, you DID write our definitive tour book.

  3. Matt Cooper says:

    Hey Mur,

    I’m local to the triangle, and definitely interested in see you present at a live book event :) I’ll be there at Flyleaf, so it’s the other store’s loss.

  4. Dina says:


    I have been following you for years. You have talent and a determination that I find absolutely inspiring. It is hard to get the breaks, but remember you have to keep knocking on doors and trying. Perseverance will eventually get you to that open door.

  5. Meghan says:

    well, that SUCKS. And I’m sorry for the heartbreak. I don’t think we are born as writers with tough skin, and getting that tough skin seems to be hard work =(

    Thanks for sharing even the hard parts of the journey, you always inspire me. Heck, even the radio silence has prompted me to go back through my catalogue of previous ISBW podcasts, and listen again. It’s been awesome to hear how far you’ve come, and how far I have to go. I just finished my 5th manuscript, and am finally ready to pursue an agent. Without your podcast, I think I would have continued to trunk my novels… I appreciate that you talk about putting your work out there, and taking the risk.

  6. Alan Sloan says:

    Hi Mur,

    I offer you a “firm YES” as my vote of confidence in you in three ways:
    1. I pre-ordered “Ghost Train to New Orleans” last November.
    2. I am looking forward to it with such great anticipation that even though I am just now finishing my very first reading of “Clash of Kings” (Game of Thrones, Book 2), I will be putting off the rest of the series so that I may read “Ghost Train.”
    3. I promise that whenever you come to Boston on a book tour, be it this year or 10 years from now, I will come out to support you because I want to thank you in person for the enjoyment and inspiration your writing has provided me in the years since I discovered it through your ISBW podcast.