Friday, September 26, 2008

All The Reasons -- Patti Callahan Henry

This weekend, tomorrow, I am headed for the Southeastern Independent Booksellers Association meeting in Mobile, Alabama. So as we sat at the family dinner table last night I heard the inevitable and ever-present question from children and spouse: "why do you have to go to these things?" (If you read deeper in teenage lingo, this really means: why won't you be here to take me wherever I want to go?).
My response was pure and not very helpful. "Because I was invited."

Blank stares.

I tried again. "Because I was invited and I really want to go."

Obviously I still wasn't getting through the fog of teenage self-absorbing thought patterns.

One more time.

"I'm going because I love writing and books and authors and booksellers and sales reps who work so hard for m, I adore the sweet sight of stacks and stacks of newly released books."

But by the time I reached the end of this long-winded sentence my family was onto something new: who Auburn would play this weekend (Of course this is a very important subject, but I was talking after all).

The subject changed as quickly as a passing cloud, as it does and should at a loud dinner table. But the question they'd asked stayed with me for the remainder of the evening. Sometimes, only sometimes, we love someone or something without being able to explain "why". We just DO. That's it. The end.

And that is how I feel about book festivals and writing conferences and bookseller meetings -- I love them without giving much thought as to "why".

In my logical (not so much) writing fashion I made a list of my Top Ten Reasons I love going to these events.

In case you care more than my children did at the dinner table, here are my (right now) top ten reasons. Of course they can change tomorrow....

#10. It means I'm not doing car pool.

#9. Books everywhere. And I mean everywhere.

#8. Laugher. There is always so much laughter.

#7. Readings -- I just so love hearing other authors read their work. Seriously, have you ever sat in on a reading by Ron Rash? Better than a good glass of wine.

#6. Nobody, absolutely nobody, asks me "Where are the _______" (insert here whatever the family can't find at the moment -- ranging from baseball uniforms to keys to food).

#5. Every once in a while a reader will sidle up to my signing table to tell me how much my writing has meant to them. This is heaven. (by the way -- this really doesn't happen at home on a regular basis)

#4. The Question and Answer Sessions -- these often make me look at my work and life in a new way.

#3. When I am there, I am always reminded why I do what I do: The power of story and the written word.

#2. Friendships. Not much to elaborate on here -- old ones. New ones. Every kind.

#1. Because I am around people who care as much as I do about books, story and the written word.

Maybe after SIBA, I'll have some new reasons -- I'll let you know!

Have a beautiful weekend with a good book.

Patti Callahan Henry


Kerry Madden said...

This was great, Patti. As a mother whose kids don't really get why I have to go do school visits or conferences or festivals, I loved this...I do take them with me whenever I can, but I don't miss the driving or making lunches when I do get lucky enough to go for a few days. Have a great time at SIBA!

The Pulpwood Queen said...

I too loved your blog and laughed out loud when you gave in your Top Ten Reason to go, a reading by Ron Rash. I am telling you, that hit the nail on the head. My Pulpwood Queens Book Club has voted Ron Rash the best read aloud author ever. I will never forget the faces of the women who were listening to Ron read from "One Foot in Eden". Actually, it still takes my breath away.
Anyway, I think the second best thing to being able to go to these book festivals, (I was speaking at West Texas Book Festival, unfortunately held exactly as the same time as SIBA), is reading from this blog site. Your writing makes me want to scream, "These are my people!" Just loving it, truly! Your blog and really all the blogs. This site brings me such joy!
Tiara wearing and Book sharing,
Kathy L. Patrick
Founder of the Pulpwood Queens Book Club