Could this be an indication of my recovery from blog fatigue? Let’s hope so. I want to get back in touch with you readers, and I feel I’ve let you down a bit with my relative disappearance from cyberspace.
Here’s some update:
Chief Joseph and the Flight of the Nez Perce should be going to print as we speak. I’ve seen a number of preliminary designs and review copies, but they aren’t the final form. It should be a handsome book.
Yesterday I received a wonderful endorsement from Louise Erdrich. She graciously wrote, “The truth is powerful, and Chief Joseph and the Flight of the Nez Perce gets right at truth. Nerburn has written about a man of humility and grandeur, whose patient anguish and devotion to his people should be part of our national mythos. This is storytelling with a greatness of heart.”
Such endorsements go a long way toward giving a book life.
But, more important than the endorsement, is the fact that I got to speak a bit with a truly kind, genuine, and engaging person whose books I have admired over the years. As you might guess, there are many people in this business who are either quite full of themselves or are twisted in some fundamental way. You learn to accept them and go forward. After all, writing requires a certain type of personality — at once intensely private and disciplined, while remaining keenly observant and deeply engaged in ordinary affairs. It is a difficult balancing act, and not everyone does it well.
I tend to break the literary world down into people who, if you were to meet them at a party, would identify themselves in one of three ways:
1.) I’m a writer.
2.) I’m an author.
3.) I’m the author of such and such.
The first, to me, is usually the best, because it speaks to a valuation of the craft. By the time you get to the third, you are usually dealing with the kind of person who is either a self-promoter or desirous of having you kiss his or her ring.
Louise Erdrich, for all her success and accomplishment, is of the first type. I simply liked her as a person in our brief conversation. That she would take the effort to write such a kind endorsement, so carefully crafted, only endeared her to me all the more.
Happily, I will be doing one of my initial readings of Chief Joseph at her delightful bookstore, BirchBark Books, in downtown Minneapolis on Nov. 17th. With luck, it will be a chance to meet her in person and thank her for her warmth and generosity.
Any of you who happen to live in the Minneapolis area are certainly welcome to attend. I will also post other readings and speaking engagements as they become available.
In an interesting conjunction, a reissue of Simple Truths is coming out almost simultaneously with Chief Joseph. Two more different books can hardly be imagined, and two more disparate sides of my literary self could not easily be called forth.
I’ve also moved quickly into another small book — essentially, a followup to Small Graces. That was why I asked for your insights into that book in a previous blog entry. What you told me was very helpful. You said you wanted story, the infusion of the ordinary with the spiritual, and intelligent thought and narrative.
Since the publisher wants to see this book as the third in a trilogy that includes Simple Truths and Small Graces, they have tentatively entitled in Sacred Moments: The Hidden Beauty of Ordinary Days.
If any of you are devotees of Simple Truths and Small Graces, I’d like to hear from you about your feelings on this title and subtitle. Would you buy it? Does it appeal to you? Would you pick it up to give as a gift?
Just give me any of your thoughts. I’ll pass them along to the publisher.
Well, that’s enough for now. The mere fact of my having written anything is shock enough for all of you. I don’t want to shock you further by turning this into a ten page screed.