Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Please Don't Feed The Writer

I did a book signing last night at the Chapters on Robson and Howe in Vancouver.

Every time I find myself sitting at that lonely author table for a 3 hour stretch answering questions not about my book or writing but about where the bathroom is or where the customer can find a particular book (questions which I honestly do try my best to answer - you have to keep yourself amused somehow) I question my masochistic tendency to keep putting myself in that situation.

I like getting out and promoting my book. I really do. But sometimes, from an author's point of view, it's a fun exercise in social study to watch people as they walk into the store and see the author table front and centre. I do my best to smile and make eye contact with everyone who walks by; like a desperate man at a single's bar perhaps, looking for any reason to start up a conversation. But of course there are those who avoid glancing at me at all, or maybe only quickly look then look away, almost as if I was a feral dog and looking at me might provoke my wraith.

Last night was pretty decent. It's always fun when the curious people stop by and ask about my book, or when those who actually hold eye contact for more than a split second allow me to say hello which sometimes sparks a conversation. I met quite a few interesting people, however, and had some great conversations; a photographer, a librarian (just coming off a lengthy civil worker strike here in Vancouver), horror fans and, of course, budding writers. One young woman who stopped by had a very interesting list of questions for me. She was particularly interested in knowing why I wrote horror. I enjoyed her unique journalistic style.

The long stretches of solitude between fun chats with customers were made worth it for one specific encounter. A woman and her twelve year old son approached my table very cautiously, wanting to ask some advice about writing. The young man had a passion for writing poetry and didn't quite know what to do or where to start. We chatted for a short while and I offered the best advice and information I could to a beginning writer. I also tried to be as honest with him as possible about how hard it could be to have your writing rejected many many times before you find a publisher or editor who likes it; but I reminded him that you have to believe in yourself and just not give up regardless of what other people say. Ten editors might hate it, but the eleventh might love it. I quite enjoyed our chat, and the smile and hope I saw in the young man's eyes reminded me of how I felt when I was twelve years old and just wanted to be a writer and tell the world my stories. I'm looking forward to hearing from him and seeing how he's doing.

My evening of book signing was perfectly capped when my long lost cousin Craig who lives in Vancouver with his wife stopped by and we went out for wings and beer after my signing was over. Books, wings, beer, good conversation. It doesn't get any better than that.


BTExpress said...

I can think of one or three things that are better than wings. ;-)

Ever since people told me I should turn my army stories into a book (you included), I started digging deeper into that part of my life. It's interesting what I've dug up. I still don't think I'll ever get published, but I know that at least my son and the fruit of his loins will have something to remember this old man by.

lime said...

i am betting it was a memorable and encouraging conversation for that boy you spoke with. so glad you got to end the evening in such a lovely way with your cousin. :)