Friday, April 10, 2015

For the love of books and generosity

The thing I pick up most in my house is books. Academic books, children's picture books/chapter books/board books, literature, parenting books. They're everywhere.

They're on the edge of end tables, and between the wall and the bed, and under the couch. I love books. I love books about science and books about parenting and fiction and memoir and research and children's books. I so, so love children's books. 

My kids know it and they know I'll sit down on the linoleum in the kitchen and read with them. They use this to their advantage and I'd stop... but... books? Fuck that. Don't stop. Or actually do. Stop! and sit on the floor and read and breathe close to their faces and kiss their cheeks and embrace them and this phase that will one day end. So if you finish the book and they say "again!" That's what you do.

But this will mean that sometimes there are books in the bathroom or the kitchen or on top of the dryer. Meh? Who cares? I love books and bookstores too.

I love quirky used book stores and big posh book stores with cocktails. I love college libraries and tiny public libraries and little free libraries. In retirement, I could imagine spending incalculable hours around books, reading them, writing near them, hoping they whisper their best combinations to me and bring me hope and inspiration and maybe even some pocket money in the process. But...

I'm reminding myself about this because I'm going to do an event in a bookstore this weekend and that always scares me. I get nervous about whether people will show and worry that I'll look like a loser with a book no one wants to read or no friends or whatever like I'm some doubt-ridden adolescent. I worry that the owners won't like me or want to promote my book. It's all nerves. I'm good with people and this will be fine. If it's a good turnout, great. If it's small, I get a chance for more meaningful interaction with readers and writers and there's nothing bad about that. So, more than worrying whether the owners will like me or no one will be there, I'm focusing on the chance to be amid information, lovers of words, and great great books.

Publishing a book is seemingly covered in these pitfalls of insecurity. Before the publishing part, I was afraid I might offend someone or of the people who wouldn't like it. But now that it's here, the book is out... I'm far more afraid that no one will care enough to be bothered. I'm more afraid no one will read. 

At first I tried that cheerleader, pretending-all-is-awesome response but I just can't do that. When I've been honest about my vulnerability lately, I've been able to shiver and shrug it off and get onto a problem-solving place where inspiration happens and I'm suddenly so busy with ideas, I don't know how to get the time to follow through on all of them.

At the beginning of this publishing idea, I was hopeful that I might make a financial contribution to my family. I was hoping to give a return on the investment my husband has placed in my writing in the form of... money. But that's just not really what this phase of my writing career is about and it's definitely not what this book is about. We have food. My husband's not worried. So I should focus on working for the sake of the work.

I'm reminded of the purpose. Get people to read it. Make sure people know that these kids exist by using the book as a vehicle to tell a true story. Make sure those from this life find the book.

And in light of that focus, I'm cultivating generosity in myself and giving away everything I can. I'm doing talks and trying to schedule free writing workshops I'll teach to teens with the book as a backdrop.

April is child abuse awareness month. I tried to find a way to give the Kindle edition of the book away free all month, but there's no way to do that. Instead, I'm using the maximum 5 days at the end of April to give the book away. I hope you'll read it. I hope you'll review and recommend it and make it get noticed. The link is here.