I am currently on a Bolt Bus traveling I-5 from Portland to Seattle.
The last few days have been wonderful - not in terms of book sales, just the warm fuzzies of seeing old friends and visiting a city I love. And wearing a fleece vest.
I left Seattle feeling pretty defeated. I was out of books - which sounds like a good thing unless you are traveling around trying to sell as many books as possible, in which case it is bad news bears. So there I was, cold and tired, sitting outside of a place called "Sip and Ship" which is apparently a wine bar, coffee shop, and mailing center. God I love the Pacific Northwest.
Anyway, I was sitting on an adirondack chair that was set up on the sidewalk along the storefront, freezing my ass off. A woman walked up leading a small terrier. She started to go inside, and then saw a sign on the door, saying that dogs were no longer allowed inside. She stopped short, not sure what to do. I reached out my hand. "I can sit with your dog - it's no problem!"
"Are you sure?" she asked hesitantly.
"Yep, I'm going to be sitting out here for a while waiting for my ride."
So I sat outside and spent a few minutes patting a very sweet and clearly terrified dog, who was craning her neck looking through the windows for her mama who had left her outside in the cold with a total stranger. When the woman returned, her dog was delighted, doing that full-body tail wag of enthusiasm that always makes me grin like an idiot. "Let me buy you a cup of coffee or a pastry or something to thank you." she said gratefully.
"Oh, no.... you don't need to do that - but thank you."
"No, really - I want to!"
"No, no. I don't need anything."
"Are you sure? I really want to give you something."
"Well. You know, there is something you could do......you could buy my book." I was nervous, but what the hell. This is what a book tour is all about, right?
She looked confused for a moment.
"It's on Amazon, you can buy it there, or on my website..... I mean, you don't have to. But you could take a look and if you think it might interest you......" I started to falter.
"No, I mean, yes - I will definitely buy your book. What's it about?"
I gave her a brief summary - the elevator pitch I am still working on. "It's about foster parenting and adoption. I am a foster mom, I take care of newborns that were exposed to drugs in utero."
Her eyes welled up as she stood there on the sidewalk. She reached for her face. Maybe it was the cold? It was REALLY cold outside. I was confused, and thought maybe I needed to lighten it up but she stopped me. "You do? I am a labor and delivery nurse. We just opened a rehab center for moms."
We stood there together for a few moments, talking about what each of us did, and how important it was. We parted ways with her agreeing to buy my book when she got home. I sat back down and wrapped my arms around myself against the wind. That experience - those few moments on a sidewalk in Ballard, WA, are exactly what this book tour has been like. One person at a time, one book at a time. I don't have stores ordering copies, and I don't have a ton of sales on Amazon, and no bookstore in Boston wants to have me do a reading - but that is okay. Even if I tell just one person a day about my book, I have accomplished something. Almost every day a text or email comes through with someone telling me that they are reading - or have just read - the book. Sometimes they send me notes about misspellings, or a missing word. Two people pointed out that Jeff Bridges - not Jeff Daniels - played Dude in the Big Lebowski. Every message has been welcomed. Keep them coming, because some days are (much) better than others, and even hearing about a typo is better than the deafening silence of indifference.
That is a life lesson, right there. If I have learned nothing else this week, I have learned to communicate when I appreciate something - whether it is your lovely sweater or a delicious meal or a comfortable sofa, sharing appreciation is the best way to go through life.
And so, gentle reader, I want to take this opportunity to say thank you for reading. I appreciate you, more than you know.
7 hours ago