One thing they don’t tell you about publishing: you will be so sick of yourself by the time the book comes out that the latest sighting of your own beloved cover makes you want to apologize far and wide for having written the damn thing in the first place. I’m embarrassed by the amount of time I spend in the sandwich board and pasties, trotting down Main Street with a sequined megaphone in one hand and a plate of roofied chocolates in the other. Of course I understand that this is how it works when you have something to sell. You have to tell people about it. A lot. Still I wonder whether I’ll have a single friend left by the time I run out of breath from blowing my own tin horn.
What I need is a scrub down. It occurs to me that I’ve accumulated a fair number of books this year, what with my shopping addiction and the loot I made off with at MPIBA. Usually I gather my books and trade them in for credit at Powell’s, but this month I’m going to try something different. I’m going to take some of them out into the world and leave them for strangers, spread a little cheer. Coffee shops, bus stations, the dressing room of my favorite thrift store, maybe a paperback with a few bucks tucked inside and a blanket wrapped around for that lady on the corner with her cardboard sign. The Mrs. Claus gig might serve as an antidote to all this selling—and maybe I’ll recover a few lost pieces of my whorish soul while I’m at it.
Or maybe not. I’ll admit I’m suspicious of generosity at this time of the year. So often it feels like a palliative for the relentless commercialization of our lives. We make ourselves feel better about the excess we see around us not by reining it in, but by spreading it around. We buy toys for children in need, and contribute to food banks, and offer support to worthy causes—all of which are fine activities, but why are they concentrated so firmly in December? Do our consciences, draped in tinsel and awash in carols, finally reach maximum capacity? When the crest of consumerism recedes, why do we feel so smug and self-satisfied and passive? Why is there a season for giving? Shouldn’t we love each other as warmly in July?
This post has wandered off-course, but I think what I’m asking is whether the motivation is as important as the deed itself?