This morning on my way to the WV Book Festival I passed a caravan of flatbed trucks carrying large pieces of carnival rides. I chuckled to myself, feeling it was prophetic. I am heading into a circus.
This was my first “event” as a published author, and I just don’t know what I am doing. As soon as I entered the “great hall” of the Civic Center, I felt I was in an alien place. There were book people everywhere. Serious book people. You know the kind I’m talking about. The ones with wool sweaters and messy hair. They smell different too. A mixture of incense and body odor. Organic. But they are smart. Really smart. Their minds are so open you can drive a bus through them.
I speedwalked up and down the aisles, not looking to the right or the left, fear filling me that they would see that I did not belong. “Hey!” Someone would yell, “Look at that lady, she’s trying too hard!”
I swallowed. Steeled myself. And looked around.
It was beautiful. The freaky people melted away. All that came into focus was…books! Books, books, everywhere! I felt dizzy with the sudden realization that I was, in a small way, entering into my idea of what heaven might be. The headiness of it all overwhelmed me and I had to grab the edge of a nearby table to steady myself. Slowly, I recovered. One step at a time, I meandered through the book festival; touching, reading; yes, even smelling every bound object I could get my hands on.
Trembling inside, I reached my destination: the WV Writer’s booth. Frantically, I searched for the one familiar face I knew. He was out to lunch. I was on my own. This was a fitting initiation for what is to come. I was told today that not only do I need to sell my book, I need to sell myself.
It wasn’t too bad. After introductions were made, I actually enjoyed getting to know these folks. And they didn’t smell funny at all. One sweet author even had a professional manicure. I talked to her a very long time.
I met some lovely people; two fellow authors in particular were very generous with advice and encouragement. I was uplifted by the fellowship and kindness. I felt like they were on my side. They wanted me to do well. Imagine that.
I sold one book in the two days I was there. (okay, so it was to a wonderful friend who has always been supportive). Not bad considering that I only had two copies; that’s 50% of my inventory. If you subtract the $6 I paid for parking both days and my cost for the book, I’m only $10 in the hole for the entire experience. If I add in an hourly wage for my time spent, I am what one would call a “Sucker”. With a capital “S”. Living the dream, right?
Why do we do these things? Why do we dream? Why do we fill our minds with expectations and qualifications and obligations? Why do we constantly seek, and try; why do we look for more in life?
It was the guy in Chariots of Fire who said it best. “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” (I’ve never seen the movie, only read the quote in bazillion inspirational essays). But that’s it, isn’t it? We were created to grow. Not to remain stagnant, or sluggish.
If it wasn’t writing for me, I pray it would be something else. Maybe painting, or skiing, or underwater basketweaving. Whatever it is, do it, Dear One! Whatever fears you must overcome, step out in faith. For if you do not enter the great hall, you will never, never feel His pleasure! And when you look around, you will find not only your passion, but others who share in it. And this is what it is all about. For when we have relationship with one another, when we love one another, this is when God is pleased. And you will feel His pleasure, Dear One. He will make sure of that.