Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Notes on my first 'real' signing ... and my first book

(Let me share something from my journal...)

8:10 p.m.
12-17-04
(As Jessi writes on the 'puter and Debra talks on the phone and Nathan listens to music)

It is the evening after my first "real" signing. Sort of. Let me lay it out for you:
Having won some awards for my columns, emboldened thereby, one might imagine, I again requested permission to publish a collection. My boss responded that it was a good idea but again asked who would up-front the money, edit, produce, etc.? A friend said to answer "I will," which I did, and the word was given: Proceed; choose a route. Go forward. I moved, and in a few weeks time, I had books in my hands.

Oh, so strange, the sensations -- to have and to hold, to feel a dream in your fingers. It is not a real thing. The senses revolt. The brain does not accept the evidence of its input. Depression sets in: Is this all there is? Is this it? Really?

And then other people hold it in your presence and tell you how proud of you they are, how proud you must be of yourself, how good the book looks, how nice is the artwork, how favorable the cover copy reads, how nice the typography and so forth. They shake your hand or hug you or kiss your cheek. They toast you.

In my case, that didn't happen at first. No. At first, it was as if nothing at all had happened. Nothing had been accomplished. We did not celebrate. No dinner out. No champagne. No signing "event." My Dad bought the e-book edition and called to say how he wanted me to send him an old journal in my possession, one he'd read about in my collection of columns that he'd like to see donated to the Alger-Sullivan Historical Society. He didn't initially say that he liked the columns (that came after, but it did come; it did). First came the idea that he saw something there that he wanted from me. I didn't agree to give him the old journal.

David Angier bought four copies. Had me sign and personalize them. One he kept, the others were for Xmas gifts. The first one I signed -- my first autographed copy of my first book -- was to Wendi Twilley, a former News Herald reporter. I signed it "For Wendi -- My First." David said it would give her a thrill and make her husband jealous.

Then John Russo bought two copies; one for himself, one for his dad. And Ross Nowling bought one for his wife.

We journeyed home on the weekend of Dec. 10 and Mom bought four copies -- I signed them to her and Frank, Aunt Betty and David Massey, Beverly (mom's friend), and Johnny and Russ (Frank's mom and brother). She promised to mail the check soon.
But here's the great moment: After I signed Mom's books, Grandma Massey broke out the apple cider and poured it into fluted crystal glasses for all of us -- Nate, Jessi, Debra, Joe, Mom and herself -- and we toasted to my book and success, and I toasted to my family and felt the emotion fill me.

Later, at his place, Dad asked me to donate some of my free books to the Historical Society for them to sell to raise money. I told him I was trying to sell them to make back my up-front costs. Sometimes I just don't think he gets me. I did not give him any of my books.

So upon returning to PC, I contacted some of my friends, fans and other contacts to plan a "stealth" signing event for tonight (as this was originally written in my journal) at the Java Bar on Harrison Avenue. Carole Lapensohn and her husband came, as did Michael and Pam Lister, Bette Powell and Emily Cramer. Emily bought three books and gave me a nice pen for signing. Carole, Bette and Michael each bought a copy. It was a very nice, low-key evening.

Bette asked me what I thought of the book and I told her it was growing on me, that I was unsure of it at first. Debra said it was like a postpartem response, but it's also like a slow onset of acceptance of the reality of it. It's real now. I've seen people holding my book, flipping the pages, reading the words. I've seen people treating it like a real book, heard them chuckling at it and grunting at it when it hurt them or touched them.

I've done it. It is done.

To some extent, at least.

I've done it. Begun it.

The book is selling. It's on amazon.com, Barnes-and-Noble.com, Books-a-Million.com, iUniverse.com, and The News Herald, which has already purchased 100 copies. It is in the world now, out of my hands. It has a life beyond me.

I am proud of the work between those covers. There are good words there, and true. Good stories. True thoughts. Some silliness, some pathos, some art.

Welcome to the Dawning of a New Century will follow. I know it will. It's only a matter of time. That will bother some folks, and anger some, and it will please some, and it will confuse some -- and some won't give a good goddamn. That's the way it is.

There will be others after that. I must believe that there will be others. Perhaps Caliban. Many a collection of short stories. Perhaps something else altogether unexpected. Tonight, I can believe.
Peace.

(12-17-04, from my leather journal...more to follow in coming days, as I relate other stories of Dazed and Raving in the Undercurrents...)
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