Saturday, March 1, 2014

and she did

For some, the circus element has replaced the central activity- in a fleeting visit to one of the best funded creative writing schools in the world I met young people who seriously discussed how they would stand up to the stress of a book tour before they had even written a book, let alone had one accepted for publication. In Canada this spring- yes, at a festival- I met a successful young writer who had been completely confused by the demands of her publicist. Her first novel involved an undertaker, and she had been asked to pose as a corpse in a coffin. Should she have said no? Was it demeaning to agree to go for the photo opportunity? As I tried to assure her in my elder statesman way that she had the right to say no, I recalled that a press photographer once long ago asked me to jump off the top of a heaped pile of copies of the Oxford Companion to English Literature. And I did it.

- Margaret Drabble