Initiation Rites

After that GREAT book party with appox. 125 people in attendance, after the fun AW cover story, after the good reviews at Collegeville and Brevity.

Well, what’s it like after that for a writer whose book is now out?

It’s like this:

I was asked to come do a book signing at the Moorhead Public Library. I put on African music, set out photos and baskets, prepared a talk & reading. I set out books to sign. The library was great. They set up thirty chairs and a microphone and a projector. All was there. Except the people. Two women came. One just happened to be there at the library. One came on purpose.

It’s very difficult to talk to two people. The librarian showed up, so then there were three. I sold one book.

I’d heard all the horror stories before, the one-person-showed-up-for-my-reading stories. But it’s a whole lot different to hear these stories than to live them. So I look at it like this: I’ve gone through the initiation rite. I’m IN. It’s official. I AM AN AUTHOR.

Later, I spoke at two senior citizen centers. Thirty people showed up each time. I entertained them. They laughed. They asked questions. There was a lively discussion. I felt like a one woman circus. I put on a good show. I sold four books.

Is it worth two hours of my time, and a bucket full of energy, to do each of these events? I really don’t know. I’m just trying to figure it out. Maybe it’s good enough to go out and entertain some elderly people, to cheer their day. Maybe those two people I read at the library are enough. Maybe they took something home with them that they needed.

I agree with what Edward Albee said. “It is a tough racket. It can be pretty heartbreaking, and you really have to, deep down, have a toughness to yourself, or you’re not going to be able to survive …

Each time I go out talking, I’m not writing. Each time I go out, I come home tired and talked-out. And I’m not writing.

Writers write. I’m working on another book.

It’s confusing how much time to spend talking & promoting the finished book AND how much time to spend in solitude and at my computer writing the next one.

So, honestly, right now, being a writer is like being torn between two separate lives. I’m feeling a little split. Right down the middle.

Jill Kandel
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