Fortune, Fame, Poetry and Books You Should Read

Last night Mike and I hit a couple of parties—there was a party at a fancy furniture store where we admired furniture and sipped champagne and then we went to go celebrate Jasmin Rosemberg’s new book HOW THE OTHER HALF HAMPTONS at the swanky Sofitel hotel. I really enjoyed this book, and I think all those Au Pairs fans out there will too. It’s about three girls who go to the Hamptons and live in a “share house” – or as Jasmin says, “imagine a very very crowded elevator”. It’s a perfect summer beach read: lots of hot-tub hookups and girl bonding! Anyway, the party was much fun and reminded me of hanging out a nightclubs because the drinks were served bottle-service style: a bottle of Krol vodka, glasses, ice and chasers on the table and then you had to mix your own drinks. Jasmin was gorgeous in a hot pink dress, and all the young people (talk about making me feel old!) were very cute in that cast-of-the-Hills way: everyone in little cocktail dresses with long, blown-out hair and great tans.

Another book I’ve been meaning to blog about is Terri Brown’s Read my Lips – about a deaf girl who becomes the school’s hottest gossipeuse. A fun and fab page-turner with a twist! I did a guest-blog for her launch on June 11th, and if you scroll up and down you’ll see other fab g-blogges like Ellen Hopkins, Scott Westerfeld and Lisa McCann.

In other news, I have read about two hundred of your poems and I am really blown away. It just thrills me to find so much love for the characters. Very, very, very cool. I’m sorry it’s taking longer than expected to figure out the winners. I had no idea we would get so many poems! But yes, I will post them here and explain why I picked them.

Hyperion is doing a really fun contest to promote Revelations—will let you know the details as soon as I know, but the grand prize is a shopping spree and lunch with me in your hometown! Yes, that’s right, I’m coming to YOU if you win! I’ll let you know how to enter as soon as I know myself. 🙂

Anyway, speaking of poetry, I was reading a really interesting article on John Keats the poet (Ode to a Grecian Urn, etc.) in the New Yorker. I had no idea he died so young (but then isn’t that the case with poets? Don’t they all die young? Rilke did too). What I found so interesting was how the article talked about Keats’ burning AMBITION to be a poet, and to be immortalized through his writing, and how tragic it was that he died before he ever reaped the benefits of fame and adulation especially since “no writer ever yearned for fame more ardently than Keats.” While he was alive, his poems were badly-reviewed and he was dismissed as a writer. But now he’s considered one of English literature’s greatest poets. Anyway, there was a quote that I thought I would share with all of you: Keats wrote “I should write from the mere yearning and fondness I have for the Beautiful even if my night’s labours should be burnt every morning and no eye ever shine upon them.”

And then I read this article about Ricky Gervais in Salon. (He’s the guy who played the British boss in the British office, which is one of the funniest things you will ever see in your life, although I think you all need to be much older and have experience working in a boring office to really appreciate it. You simply have no idea what mind-numbing means until you’ve worked for a big corporation.) Anyway, Ricky Gervais is very famous now, and he says, “I get very excited about creating stuff just from scratch. You’ve got to be in this work for the right reasons—being rich and famous ultimately doesn’t mean anything.”


What Keats and Ricky Gervais are saying is that it’s really just the writing—the work—that gives the most satisfaction. Of course, Keats never experienced fortune and fame, and Gervais has. But I’m sure Keats would have come to the same conclusion even if he had.

Because ultimately, it’s not about the book tours, or bestseller lists, or all the fun perks that come with being an author that make you want to be an author. It’s about being able to think up stuff from scratch and cackle at your desk and enjoy moving your characters around. And then make a living from it! That’s what’s most amazing to me. Yeah, there will be days when writing sucks and it’s work and you hit a wall and wish you’d never even thought up this stupid book. But even on the worst writing days, it’s still good to write.  It’s just fun. Writing is fun.

And that’s why I’m so glad you all wrote poems, and who cares who wins—because you all won already—you know? And yeah, I realize I don’t think I would be this optimistic and rosy-eyed if I was still a struggling writer. You know before I published my first book I would go to bookstores and be so ENVIOUS I would feel SICK TO MY STOMACH that I couldn’t even READ any more books because the thought that I might not be a writer was too depressing for me.

But now that I’m on this side of the fence, I have to say: it’s the work that matters, not what comes with it. And that’s why you do it. Because if you wanted to be rich and famous there are a lot more ways to go about it that are probably much easier and less stressful. (But here again a caveat: Really? Because from my experience and what I’ve seen from successful people—everyone has to work really really hard for every penny. There is no such thing as easy money. Seriously. Sure some people are born wealthy, with a head start but that comes with its own set of worries. No one has a perfect life. We’re all just trying to make our way in this cold cold world.)

I thought it was so interesting how one of the reasons Keats’ ambition was so strong was because he didn’t come from nobility like Lord Byron or was rich like Shelley and he knew “how precarious his fortunes really were.” That maybe he wouldn’t even get a CHANCE to be a poet because he came from a working-class family.

Anyway, those are the thoughts of the day. Funnily enough I’ve never been big on Keats. My favorite poets are Yeats, Rilke, Sharon Olds and James Merrill. In my other life, I used to want to be a poet. (Yeah, I KNOW!) But now I’ve decided to give him another chance.

Have a great day everyone!