|A moment with the publisher.|
|Reading from "Fish of the Damned."|
|Talking. Talking. Talking. My favorite part.|
Throughout the night, I had three thoughts that I distinctly recall a week later. One was that I felt like Bilbo Baggins and now would be a perfectly good time to disappear and go off on some big adventure. The other was that I had some notion of what it feels like to attend your own funeral, with all those faces from the past, people just showing up to say they thought of you, remembered you, and wished you well. Not everyone gets to have that experience, and, morbid as it sounds, I treasure it.
The other thought, of course, was that I was the richest man in town, just like George Bailey in my favorite Christmas-themed movie, It's a Wonderful Life. After years of paying my dues, keeping my head down, doing good work and trying my best to help anyone I could in any way they asked, I felt like it was all coming back to me. There were moments of darkness in those years before I published, times when I wondered why I even did it and what the reward was. Now I can see it. It's not about the book; it's not about how many you sell or whether you win any awards or get great reviews. This was a chance to bring together my friends, some family, former students who were now my friends and even some family and colleagues whom I consider to be my good and treasured friends. I felt like Sandra Bullock on the night of the Oscars, asking: "Did I really do something to deserve this, or did I just wear y'all out?" It was a fantastic night.
I didn't sleep that night. I was all wound up, talking nonstop to my amazing wife about what it was all like, about what surprised me most, about who I was glad to see. It turns out that I was glad to see everyone. The line-up for the book signing was long. I was eager to talk to each and every person who had bought a book and wanted me to sign it--but also there were people whom I know (because they were students, mostly) didn't have the money to buy a book, and just wanted to show up and show support, which I dearly appreciated. But I had a connection with nearly everyone in that room. Every one of them knew what this night meant to me--some were more aware than others, of course. My good friend Wendy put it in pespective when she half-jokingly said, "I've had this date circled on my calendar since 1994."
Since last Wednesday, I've made an attempt to get life back to some sort of normal. There've been papers to grade and literally hundreds of emails to answer. I'm almost through them all. There was an interview with Weekend Arts Magazine's Angela Antle a couple of days after the launch. It wasn't my first CBC interview, but it was my first one in which I talked about my own writing, about a book I'd published. To me, it was like appearing on Oprah's post-Oscar show the day after the Oscars ceremony. There's no feeling quite like it.
|The excited zombie in action.|