Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Enjoy the Journey - Thoughts on My Book Tour
I survived! And even better than that, I had fun. When The Alchemist's Kitchen was still in production, I challenged myself to take my baby on the road. If I wanted to let people know about my book, the best possible way was to meet some new people face to face. And so I travelled from Seattle to San Diego, to Boston, to Miami all in one week. Ironically, the previous week I had put on three events in Seattle at the Frye Art Museum, a travel book store and a coffeehouse. I'm just now calculating how many different events I did in two weeks. The magic number: 10.
So what did I learn from this whirlwind that might be of some use to other writers? A few things perhaps.
1. Pack light. I'm not kidding. This is the number one rule. I did three cities and a few major weather patterns with just a carry-on bag. This meant I had no worries of the airline losing my bags and I also didn't have to waste time waiting in long lines at the airport. Carrying my own (mostly black) belongings alleviated much of the stress of travel. I also felt proud that I could pack only essentials - which included three pairs of shoes.
2. Attachment is exhausting. Don't worry about book sales. Of course you are worried about book sales but it won't do anyone any good. Besides, you've done your part -- here you are on the road reading and teaching in the best way you know how. (Thanks to Kelli for putting this so succinctly.)
3. Food is really important. The pumpkin pie cookies at the San Diego farmer's market; the cook your own delicious meal restaurant in Brighton, cocktails and coconut shrimp in Miami. The communal nature of sharing food with good friends -- that's what I will remember.
4. Travel makes me confront my discomfort level. In San Diego I did five events in three days. That's a record. I taught a course on translation, gave a three hour workshop, and other assorted programs. And amazingly, I had fun. I met some superb people and felt that what I did was well received. However, before I left Seattle it seemed impossible that I would be able to do it all. Now with the luxury of hindsight, I feel stronger and more able to face the challenges ahead.
5. You have to have friends. Honestly, that's what this trip was about. Ilya and Katie in San Diego, Hilary in Boston, then Cliff and Deb in Miami. In each place I landed I had very dear friends to take me in. I remember the lentil soup on the stove, the morning walk for coffee, and the party under the trees. I continually felt grateful for knowing such amazing people; for the immense pleasure of friendship. At the end of the class, the reading, the workshop, I had people who loved me waiting to talk and laugh. In many ways, a book tour is more about relationships with others (new friends were also made on this trip) than anything else.
6. What a great problem to have. A book tour! Travel the country and have people listen to your images, visions, ideas -- what a privilege to live this life as a writer. I am honored. And if you are someone who reads this blog and also came out to see me last week, I am doubly honored. Thank you.