I am no longer wearing semi-creased clothing, and the cleansing products I am using are no longer Aveda or Gilchrist and Soames, or whatever other sweet-smelling brands I poured from tiny bottles in hotel bathrooms over the week I was on book tour.  I have returned to civilian life now, and all its uncreased clothes and Brand X products in jug-sized bottles, which is both a relief and a letdown.

First, let me say that the tour was a terrific experience.  I met readers; I saw the dramatic inside of the amazing Seattle Central Public Library, designed by Rem Koolhaas; I also saw the rooms where Margaret Mitchell lived; I swapped books on a radio interview show with the brilliant and iconic and very funny Jacques d’Amboise; and I think I actually got a chance to explain what I was trying to do in my new novel The Uncoupling.  By the end of the tour, I finally had the whole thing down pat.

Now I’m actually ready to be interviewed.  Please, someone interview me again.  Oh wait, the tour is over.

Every writer I know prefers writing to being published, but the latter is a kind of art too.  Explaining yourself takes real skill; I think that once you can fully and boldly describe your book to someone else, then you really do understand it.  Once you can turn your book into a sort of bouillon cube––an intense nugget of language, sensation, knowledge and direction––then you are left with a sense of what you’re trying to do.  Perhaps, during the writing process, writers should go off on pretend book tours; they would be like playing house, except you would leave your family, stay in hotels, and during the day you would be interviewed by strangers (shills), and at night, other shills would gather to hear you read from the unfinished work.  By the end of the whole experience, you would be once again creased, overtaxed, Aveda-smelling, and fully aware of what you were really trying to say and do in that novel of yours. If youth is wasted on the young, perhaps book tours are to some degree wasted on the writer who’s finished her book.  But I think the readers–those strangers who appear on a weeknight and agreeably sit on folding chairs in the bright light of a bookstore, just to hear you–feel happy to meet a writer they like whose work has been recently thrust out into the world.  They want you the way you are: struggling to figure out what the book was at the beginning, and what it is now.  They don’t want the slick version.  (You can save that for the paperback tour.)

So I am home, and I am done, and I am uncreased, and the reading copy of my novel, which went with me to seven cities, sits here on the table beside me, closed for now.