Saturday, October 25, 2008

What would you do if you had a Just Like A Girl reading and (almost) nobody came?

You talk about raising boys.

I was half way to Philly (in a surprisingly heavy rainstorm) when it occurred to me that folks might not be willing to brave the rain to come out to a reading. Count me psychic...'cause not one person came to the reading at Big Blue Marble Books.

I love this bookstore. They were one of the first bookstores to setup a reading for Growing Up Girl ,where we had a packed house. But clearly today was not going to be a repeat performance.

At 3:30, when it was clear there would be no reading, a Mom came into the store. She was not looking for the reading. She was killing time until her teenage son was finished with his community services hours next door at the local coop. She asked what the book was about. I told her. For some reason that encouraged her to talk about her son.

She was chatty and funny and realistic. It seems that the last four years had been crazy challenging with her son and she was clear that no book she had every read (and there seemed to be a ready list floating around in her head) helped her get control of her kid. Mom was a self described control freak who had her whole life mapped out when it came to how she would parent her kids (she has a daughter who is "easy as pie"), but eventually had to "put my personality in a blender and push puree." Her advice to parents, "put your expectations down when comes to raising kids." With that decisive edict, she zipped out of the store to go check that her kid was where he was supposed to be.
As soon as the door slammed I had to laugh. Not at her, but at myself. 29 minutes before she had walked in, I had been trying to talk myself out of a mood that was steadily creeping up on me. I was annoyed that I had driven two and half hours, in the rain, to be at the reading that no one showed up to - or so I thought.

Actually, I was sitting in the very empty loft reading room for a very different reason. Before I left home today, I was sketching out the call for submissions for the Woman's Work short story project (look for the call on November 1st) and also jotting down some ideas for the parenting handbook that is also slated to come out in 2009. I had already broken down the chapters and was trying to figure which "expert" I was going to assign to each. I was also asking myself what tone I wanted for the book. But after listening to this mom it was clear I was coming at this project from all the wrong directions. By the time a parent picks up How to Grow a Girl (tentative title), they are probably far down the path of parenting and looking for some concrete and sanity-saving information. I need to go back to the drawing board on this one. And regarding the tone - I think chatty, funny, and realistic is probably going to be the best choice.

Sometimes you really do have to go on a journey to find what you are looking for.

We will have a "do over" opportunity for Philly on Friday, October 31st at 8:00pm. Come check us out at Wooden Shoe Books. Don't leave me sittin' up in there by myself this time:) I don't think I can be Zen twice in the same month.

Until Later!


Maegan la Mala said...

Ay, I;m sorry mujer pero you handled it with grace and had a great convo it seems.

Juss_ILP said...

i think dear cousin that mom was supposed to be the only attendant at your reading. she came and came right on time. you see if all those other people showed up, then how would you know that it was back to the drawing board for the parenting book? you wouldn't have gotten your plans done for the short story project either.

rain storm, 2.5 hour drive, mom...i'd say the reading was a huge success.