Monthly Archives: September 2012

Trade Shows, Sales Reps, and Tiaras.

So I’m off for the annual Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Trade Show, in Denver, lugging my passel of books and pens along with me, and this is the moment (is there ever not a moment?) to once again express how impossible would be the job of the independent publisher without the truly astonishing work of the independent publishers’ sales reps.

These people crisscross the country, sometimes over unbelievably wide territories–to hear their stories is like listening to the denizens of some early wagon train, schlepping it across the twenty seven north south mountain ranges of Nevada–selling (cajoling, coaxing, promoting) independent viewpoints, independent ideas, in the form of independent books, to booksellers hanging around their espresso machines all over the country.

They’re the pollinators. You think Amazon is the only place to buy/sell books? Where do you think people learn about these books? The ideas get in the bloodstream, and before you know it, they’re in your blood too, and you’re looking around for words to confirm or deny, or support or complete…and there you are, looking at a book.

So now I’m off to the hive, to listen to the buzzing about what’s out there, and add a little buzz of my own. And in between the buzz, to giggle with Dory Dutton, one of the best in a group of Best with a capital ‘B’ (this means you, John, and Lise, and Terri and Bill, and Steve, and Stephen, and Melissa, and Keith, and JANE, and and and and and and…), because one of the things that science has taught me is that women behave differently when stressed than men do…we don’t go in for that ‘fight or fly’ response, apparently, when stressed we bond with other women and play with children, or with people capable of acting like children without descending to childishness. A real art, that.

Off to do both. Bond and play. See you later.

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Women in Filmmaking.

So I’m going to be in on a panel discussion tonight, in Boulder, on Women in Filmmaking, and it’s starting to get easier for me to connect my former life in film with my present life in books. There was a time when I just couldn’t see how to put them together–for one thing (and this is one reason I disliked being in the film world) there is such a strong gravity of illusion around the world of movies that you can hardly float in a real word. The least of it is people always thinking you live in Los Angeles. For example, there are the people who think, as we say jokingly around here, that I killed Hunter Thompson. Well, I certainly didn’t like him much. But people get these weird ideas about their icons, and if the person behind the icon doesn’t have a very strong center, that person starts living what people expect of them. And that, sometimes, kills them in the end. Nobody else has to do it. All you have to do is look around you to see that’s true.

And then, movie-making, which has its genesis in both the Mob wanting to launder its money, and in the U.S. government seeing it as what they call ‘soft propaganda’ for American hegemony, is an art form frequently in denial. No big surprise that it’s been the American art form of the Twentieth Century, since we Americans have made an art form of denial itself (and I say this as a loyal countrywoman, mind you). It denies its hysteria. It denies its exploitation of people under the sign of Glamour. It denies its rigid hierarchical form, more rigid than the Old Testament, sometimes. It is very big on denying.

But as I go on, I can see so much more clearly the issues involved with the two worlds, film and books,–any two worlds in our one world–being separated. There is a hierarchical structure going on here, the same one that separates subject headings in bookstores, as if wisdom could be broken up into tiny, unrelated sections. There is plenty of wisdom found in film, Goddess knows I’ve found a lot myself, but it’s hidden in all the shrieks and screams and drug overdoses and taped-on evening gowns, not unlike the real diamond in the detective stories, hidden in a costume jewelry display.

And, of course, these days, finding the diamonds in the paste is all I’m interested in.

So I’m pleased I’m going to be on this panel tonight, especially with a group of talented women who recognize quite clearly that it’s a fiction, another form of denial, to say that women have jumped over the barriers to recognition of their voice in film, or, for that matter, in any other art. I’m feeling easier these days about all those years I spent hammering away at film. I’m feeling like it’s got everything to do with what I want to support in books, too. I’m feeling like it’s getting easier for me to spot the diamonds in the mess on the sale counter, every day easier and easier.

 

 

 

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