Today is one of those days in life where it is important for me, means something to me, but which no one will really care about. For me, today marks the tenth anniversary of my first book signing, which was at the Borders Books and Music in Flint, Michigan. The anniversary though is more for this year, which marks the tenth year since my short story collection Back From Nothing came out.
What is funny is I remember more about the signing than I do the book coming out. The book was a project that was long in gestation and seemed to take forever to come out. I began the process, at best guess, in 1996, and after a long search for a publisher, I found one that finally said YES. The hell of that YES was that the publisher was a subsidizer, which meant I would pay the expenses of producing the book and they would print it, set it, and would distribute and promote it. Back then it was the best I could do and so I went with it. With a lot of help and support from my family I managed to get the money together for the book and, finally, after a ton of edits, and corrections, and waiting, the book was released in 1999. What’s funny is how much did and didn’t change.
I was suddenly an author, I had a book out, but I wasn’t making any real money from the book. And, within a couple of years, the publisher had gone bankrupt and I was left paying shipping on some 1,400 + books so that they wouldn’t be disposed of in some dumpster. Over the years I have learned a lot about writing, and about self promotion, and it’s never been my strong suit. I can do it, but not terribly well. I prefer to tell the stories than to have to pump myself up to convince people to buy my work. The book has never sold well, but I have moved copies. It is something that shows my youth and inexperience yet still packs an emotional impact. It is still one of my greatest achievements. A lot of people talk about writing, or putting a book together, and I did. However it came out. I did it.
The signing was funny because they set me up right in front of the door with my book, which seemed awesome but which really meant people were asking me where stuff was. Then I had the religious couple that came and started speaking with me, and flipped through my book and found the ONE DAMNED PIECE that would be inherently offensive in that it was from the point of view of Lucifer. Oops. That night I had a celebration dinner with some friends at a local restaurant and it was great.
I have done so much since those days, have grown so much as a writer, and I cannot wait until I have another book to illustrate this growth. Over the years I have put together several small collections (self published called ash-cans or chapbooks, if you will) for conventions I have done and just as examples of my growth. I have been published four times, in two publications, have worked conventions and fairs, have done podcast reading, and have met some of the most inspiring people I could ever imagine. Ten years goes by fast though, and I am still so far from where I want to be as a writer.
Ten years ago I officially began a journey that has taken me to places I had never dreamed, but it was the first step, and while I have taken a few since, I am still working to find a way to balance my writing with my life, my writing with my art, and am working to find ways to get my stories to the world. If you have been with me along the way, I thank you, if you are just joining me, I welcome you, and hope you’ll stick around to see where the journey leads.
Now let’s get going.