New York Times best-selling author Ron Rash is a week or so into a world-wide tour to promote this new novel, “Above the Waterfall.”
This week, he’s in Charlotte, next week he heads east for stops at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh on Sept. 14, and Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill the next day. Twenty-five cities. Salt Lake. Grand Rapids. Philadelphia. Saint Louis. Atlanta. Paris. Yes, Paris. Flying in. Flying out. Hotels. Taxis. Pillows stuffed with rocks. Pillows stuffed with grits. Nights you sleep. Nights you twist.
I talked with Rash by phone recently, peppering him about the promotion side of the writing life.
He laughed because he was remembering one tour when he grew so bone-weary, he stumbled into a strange drug store in a strange town, lured by a sign in the window offering Vitamin B-12 shots. It helped.
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Getting place to place is stressful.
“You get there in the afternoon, do your event, and the next morning you’re out,” he says. “You see the hotel, the airport and a bookstore.”
But what makes it most difficult is something else. “Like most writers,” he says, “I’m an introvert. Even though you enjoy meeting people, at the same time, it can be exhausting.”
Then, there’s a serious danger inherent in every tour, he says: “Forgetting that what all this is about is writing.”
Rash doesn’t allow anything to interfere with that basic way of relating to himself and to the world.
“It’s nice to go out,” he says, “but writing keeps me grounded. It’s what’s the most important thing. I write in the mornings in the hotel. If I don’t, I feel like I’ve kind of lost the day.”
Neither does Rash play the weariness card to indulge in junk food or forgo exercising.
Now for the upside of a book tour.
Rash says he worked in solitude for so many years, spent so much of his life “trying to do this thing,” often wondering if it was all in vain. So now he feels grateful to go to bookstores and meet the folks who read his books.
“It’s wonderful to know that what I’m doing is not in vain,” he says. “I was almost 40 when my first book was published, and I’d been getting rejection slips and rejection slips.
“But ultimately, it was not about getting published. It’s about doing this thing that I feel like is part of who I am. My life would be incomplete if I weren’t doing this.”