Tuesday, March 16, 2010

what good is a book?

I'm quoted in the New York Times today.


And I have nothing to say. I thought I had something to say. I spent the last 45 minutes sitting in my car frantically trying to get on a wireless network so I could say something. React, share, expand.

But now that I'm here, not so much.

It's almost too big to process. I'm not sure why this feels more intense than The View. Crazy to think a couple of lines in a newspaper would be more profound than appearing live on national tv. And yet, here I am.

I think that it's because it's not just me selling the message. You know, that needs quotes. It's not me "selling" the message about advertising and language and shame. This campaign addresses it head on. It calls out the ridiculousness of femcare ads. Kotex does a remarkable job of making fun of itself, of the blue liquid, of the white spandex, of the women dancing with joy because they've got their periods:


Maybe it feels different because it wasn't just me talking FLOW. I was an expert being asked for an opinion. And that's pretty damn cool. I've been a so-called expert at different points in my writing career. For a few years I was a go-to person about evolving prom fashion, which is ridiculous because I don't know very much about fashion. But, I did write a book. Even though there were only 2 pages of text and it was more a chronology of prom instead of style highlights, it was enough to qualify me as a person in the know. The same thing happened with Beauty Queen. When one Miss USA was almost dethroned for bad behavior, reporters called me for an opinion. Me? It was a riot. Then again, I wrote a book.

Writing a book gives you gravitas in a way that's different from other things. I think it's because you can hold something in your hands and say, "look at this." You can feel it, look at it, skim through it, carry it with you, open it whenever you want to, share it, quote from it, refer to it. Other mediums are less substantial that way, or at least have been in the past. I blow my kids away when I tell them about the olden days, about how you'd see a movie in the theater and if you missed it, that was it. Perhaps it might be on tv. Once a year. If you missed The Wizard of Oz, you blew it. The VCR was a mind-blowing invention. Movies whenever you wanted? Incomprehensible until it happened.

And now, the ability to watch, see, read, hear whatever you want whenever you want is very often taken for granted. The demise of publishing, the death of the book have been hot topics in the media as technology presents almost more options than we can juggle. For those of you who know me, I'm a technology addict. I'm rarely without an electronic connection. Computer, laptop, iphone. But even though I'm so immersed in that world, a book is still the be-all end-all in some ways. It can't lose a charge. You don't have to worry about it not booting up. There's no 20% warning about battery power, no error messages, you can't drop it and break it. No warranties to run out.

A book can sit on your shelf just waiting to be delved into. You can commit to reading the whole thing or to skim at leisure. You can revisit it again and again. You can touch the paper, hear pages rustle, feel the ink on the cover. It's a tactile experience that electronics can't give you. For me, to read something on a printed page is real. Concrete. Permanent. You can't hit a button and go somewhere else. You are just there. On the page. In a book.

(or in the New York Times!).

1 comment:

Robyn Elfie Olson said...

Congratulations on making a splash in yet another a BIG pond! The View! The NY Times! YOU! Ok ok I'm done overworking the poor exclamation point :) Hugs from Elfie