New York and Etc.
Posted on March 16, 2004 Posted by John Scalzi
Like most out-of-towners I enjoy the hell out of New York every time I’m there. First, of course, it just makes me feel like a bigshot to say “I’ll be in New York on business,” as opposed to what I usually say, which is “I’ll be feculently marinating in my home office, banging out copy.” Also, it makes me feel like an actual writer to go and spend time with my editors and my agent, and sit around with them and talk about the business. I imagine all people in all lines of business do this, but I submit to you that there’s something especially romantic about talking about the business as it applies to publishing. The next closest thing, I suppose, would be movie people talking about their business, but I think publishing has it beat because it is simultaneously more earthy (on account of there’s not usually untold millions in cash being bandied about — writers are more tethered to reality, income-wise) and more relaxed (because writers aren’t desperately looking for someone to cough up millions in order for them to do their thing). And of course, writers and editors and literary agents are all dreadfully witty. It’s instant Algonquin! Just add liquor!
I am becoming more aware of the fact that my social circle does now in fact include other professional writers and authors, which was not necessarily the case earlier — I have great friends, but most of them do other things. But these days I have cause to interact with writers, and it’s a lot of fun. While I was in New York, as an example, I had the pleasure of having breakfast with Justine Larbalestier and Scott Westerfeld, who managed to shoehorn me into their schedule even though they were on their way to Sydney Australia later that day. This puts them among the ranks of the seriously cool in my book (aside from the fact they’re awfully cool to begin with). Hopefully my relationships will other writers will never devolve into the morass of sniping and bitterness they appear so often to do. I don’t expect they will; if I want to snipe at people all I have to do is go on USENET. I’d rather not snipe at fellow writers in the real world.
Likewise it was again a real pleasure to be able to spend time with Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden, the dynamic duo of the science fiction publishing world, with whom I was fortunate to have dinner and conversation. I also was occasioned another trip to the Tor offices, which are still delightfully and frightfully overstuffed with flammables left and right. While I was there, Tor’s art director Irene Gallo showed me the cover of my book — the actual painting, as it was still there — and I have to say I’m pretty damn pleased. No, sadly, I won’t be displaying it for you now because I forgot to ask if I could, and in the absence of an actual “yes” from Tor, I’m loath to put it up. I don’t want to step on toes. But trust me, it’s pretty cool. I was also finally able to meet with Ethan Ellenberg, who is my fiction agent, and the more I know him the more I’m pleased he is my agent. So overall, a trip filled with literary goodness. You can’t ask for more.
This trip also marks the first time since 9/11 that I’ve been to the World Trade Center. I had been avoiding it in my previous trips simply because I didn’t want to make a special trip just to gawk at the wreckage — my own personal feelings about the site did not require that. But now they’ve reopened the PATH station at the WTC site and as I was staying with a friend in Jersey City, I traveled through it several times during the time I was there.
Needless to say, all the debris has been carted off, but the knowledge of the absence of these huge buildings is overpowering. Quite honestly, I don’t really see the need for a memorial on the spot; simply leaving it as it is would be compelling enough. I know that each time I wandered through the PATH station during the day there was always a group of people with their digital camera, documenting The Pit:
Interestingly, I never saw anyone do the tourist thing of having someone else snap their picture in front of it. I guess most people realize this isn’t the usual tourist attraction, and that posing with it just didn’t feel right.
My trip was a working visit, but my work schedule was more relaxed than it usually is and now that I’m back at home I’m looking at a schedule that’s nicely packed with work over the next month or so. I’ll have some fairly interesting work-related news in the near future which I’ll share when the time is right; but otherwise it’s back into the swing of things after a nice break. And as I’ve noted elsewhere, it’s nice to be home. Going places is great, but I actually like coming home better. Maybe I should travel more to get more of that feeling.
Whatever Everyone Else is Saying