In a dither of movement and thus delayed writing this post. One week, this week: I began in Providence where we celebrated the launch of Bittersweet Manor. (See below) Off we went to New York City, back to Rhode Island for one night and now we are off to Darwin’s View, then onward to Burlington, VT (for a reading this Saturday at Barnes and Noble, 102 Dorset Street S. Burlington, Vermont 2PM. SPREAD THE WORD!) Then back to New York City, finally coming to roost at Darwin’s View on Monday, where and when we are expecting ten trees to be delivered.
Because it’s SPRINGTIME!
Four days ago, I saw a blue egg in the middle of the path outside my office. I went out and stared down at it, then up at the bush where there is a nest. Had the egg been pushed out by a blue jay? Having fallen from such a distance, was it too muddled to become a chick cheeping? I picked up the egg. It felt warm. I climbed onto the wall next to the tree with the nest, reached over and dropped the egg in.
The immediate questions that came to mind: What if it’s the wrong nest? Did I have a right to fiddle with nature? Now, I watch the faithful robin as it flies to and from the nest, and hope. I hope it hatches because how horrible for the robin to put so much effort into an unviable egg. And yet, would that not be nature taking its course?
Nature hardly has a fighting chance these days. I wanted to give it a helping hand.
Do you see the correlation? A blue egg, the blue remarkably like the blue of my book’s cover. The tossing it out of the nest, a bit too soon, given the egg was not yet a chick. So fledging was not in order. But my book? Was it ready to go? Certainly, it was greeted with much love and support. And now I wait. Will there be reviews? Will strangers, not just friends, buy it? Will book groups want me to come talk about the book? Questions, questions and all as unanswerable as that of will the blue egg hatch?
All to say, the launch event for Bittersweet Manor was a huge success thanks to my friends, the Sturtevants, who hosted the gala with great grace and aplomb. All told, fifty people came to their house for a pre-reading toast, and returned afterwards for further libations and food; perfect bookends to my reading at Books on the Square, of which the only fault that was pointed out (that I remember): I didn’t endure for long enough that uncomfortable silence that comes after asking “any questions?” Apparently, people had questions but hadn’t quite raised their hands when I cut them off with a thanks and a good-bye. Whoops!
Regrets? I do wish I had more time to spend with everyone who came. There they were! Cheering me on! The books leapt from the shelves! Too, my handwriting is rather an embarrassment. Years of scrawling, long hand, to get the ideas down before I forget them, have caused legibility to disappear. And I am no Oscar Wilde. Witty and spontaneous aphorisms do not drip from my pen. So autographing books is not high on my favorite things to do list. I cringe, thinking later, what did I write? Will the person be able to read it? Did my heartfelt gratitude come through?
And now what? Is there no where to go from those heights but down? What are my expectations for Bittersweet Manor? As I walked into the bookstore, brimming with friends to greet me, I balked. But someone outside said, “Enjoy! This is what it’s all for!” But is it?
Having spent almost thirty years writing without a publication to my name, I think it’s rather obvious I don’t write for fame or glory. I write to figure things out. To think. To wrestle with ideas. That don’t end up coming out how I planned them. Bittersweet Manor began — as I said and will say again — as an idea, and with a question. I am not sure I successfully expressed the idea, nor answered the question. And my next two books may or may not become what they are, right now, in my mind. (Perfect.) When they are initially bludgeoned and sweated out, they look awful. And the amount of work they will take is overwhelming. Which is why the schedule Carl and I are keeping might have a degree of relief outlining it: I don’t have time to write and so don’t have to face the quagmire of thoughts, the reams of paper that need to be organized and structured.
And even typing that sentence gives me the butterflies. I can’t wait to get back to that process, however uncomfortable the process can be at times. It’s incredibly satisfactory, too. Like finally figuring out a difficult math problem. Like looking outside and seeing a bird singing. There is the finished product. How incredible is it that a blue robin’s egg will hatch and a tiny creature emerge that will eventually fly and look about itself from a branch, exuding the beautiful convolutions of time, the miraculous changes that are wrought in this world.
Bittersweet Manor, in ways, is that, too. A finished product. Is it viable? If not the original idea and question, does it present others? Will there be a gradual spreading of the book to beyond my own circle, such that one day, maybe someone I don’t even know will read it and think differently. Maybe be helped. Maybe learn something. Maybe by publishing Bittersweet Manor, I might share and connect with someone, and isn’t that “it”? Our connections?
A heartfelt thank you to the Sturtevants, and to everyone who was there!