It’s been two weeks now since SHE/HE/THEY/ME was released. Two weeks since the big party at Village Lights Bookstore (Thank you everyone who came out to see me and talk and listen and bring me gin and tonic, etc. and to Nathan, Anne, Sean and Chelsea at Village Lights for the amazing event!).
Writing a book and then seeing it go out into the universe is a big thing. Sort of too big to cover in one blog post. I can’t tell you how weird it still feels to type the phrase, ‘my book,’ like at any minute the universe will sweep down and punish me for such hubris, even though it clearly is my book. But here are a few thoughts about ‘my book.’
I don’t know what it would be like to be a writer who lives in a different sort of place. There are probably advantages to living in New York or a bigger city. Bigger writing community. Better connections.
But I don’t live in New York or a big city. I live in Madison and as I said in my acknowledgements, I can’t imagine a better place to be a writer. Here are some of my favorite Madison moments in the past two weeks.
– On the day the book released, the guy who runs our favorite local bar—the place where we are currently undefeated Monday night theme trivia champions—came down to the bookstore and bought three copies of my book. Three copies of a very weird book about gender! ‘They hang out in the bar a lot,’ the guy told the bookstore owner. True. Perfect.
– At the book release, a friend asked, ‘So is there some ticker you can watch to see how many books you’ve sold?’ No. No, there is not. This is both good and bad. Good because there’s no way to obsessively check how the book is doing. Bad because there’s no way to obsessively check how the book is doing.
– Walking down the street a few days after the release, the guy who runs the local music store waved me inside. We’ve bought one guitar, an upright piano, an amp, an upright bass, a ukulele and a mandolin from the store. We might have a musical instrument hoarding problem, but if you’re going to hoard something, why not musical instruments? He waved me in because he wanted me to sign his copy of ‘my book.’
– During the question and answer portion of the book release, my daughter asked me about my tattoo. I got it the Saturday before the book release. It’s a star on the inside of my left arm. It is a reminder that I did this. I wrote a book. ‘My book.’ I did that. I’m the kind of person who finds it hard to slow down and enjoy the good stuff. This tattoo is to help me do just that. And a reminder to keep going. To add a new star for each new book.
– At the coffee shop, one of the baristas told me she’s already completed two different gender journeys in the book.
– At a party, a friend told me her teenage daughter is reading the book. She skips the parts about getting a job and stuff. I don’t blame her. Jobs are boring. The book is written to a general audience. If I did it right, you don’t need to know anything about gender at the start. You can begin from zero. But I was hoping young people would read it. Teenagers, especially. So to know that an actual teenager was reading it made me very happy.
– I ordered a copy of ‘my book’ for the local library and when it came, I held it in my hands before turning it back in so other people can check it out. I love libraries. Most of the books I read come from the library. I’m fairly affluent, but even I can’t afford to buy all the books I read, let alone figure out where to put them afterward. To be able to look up your own name in the local library system and see your book? That was its own delight.
Maybe these stories don’t add up to much. Here’s the thing. When you send a book out into the world, it’s out there without you. Moving through the universe. You can Google it. You can read the reviews (I’m generally trying not to unless they’re clearly good ones). But everything’s happening at a distance except for the small things you can actually experience. The little stories. The small town stuff.
Maybe in New York, the guy at the local bar buys a copy of your book when it comes out. I don’t know. I hope so, because it’s a pretty cool thing.