goodbye to all that

My older brother once made a bet with a university friend: next paper, best grade wins. The friend (we'll call her M) then proceeded to lay siege to the thing. She made plans, she made lists, she made her library card bend and flake under the weight of so much use. She read and she read and she read, and then she wrote and she wrote and she wrote.

My brother, on the other hand, went only above and beyond his usual behaviour: instead of half-scamming his way through the thing, and sliding a late paper under a professor's door with a belch and a hail mary, he actually did most of the research, and didn't write it at three o'clock in the morning.

I think he got an A or a B+ (this is back in the day of grades corresponding to performance).

M did worse. Far, far worse. Not only that, but the professor had written her a note:

Don't ever do this again.

* * * * *

This came to mind yesterday, as I started to process the evening of my book launch + art show, and the overtaxed days (read: weeks) leading up to it.

So much work.

And worth it, in some respects. In the surprise and delight of seeing certain faces, and in the effort certain people made to come by. Our friends Jill and Jamie (and Winnie), for example, who had been travelling all weekend, who basically just pulled into their driveway and got out of the car and walked over (okay, sure, Winnie couldn't be bothered to put on pants, but still). Or Danielle, who hasn't been able to come to our writing group for about two years now, but she *still* comes out to support us. And many, many friends of C's, who don't even know me, but still came out just to support her. Or my friend Krista, who was only in town for a wedding, but made her dad drive her over just so she could see me and the paintings and buy a book. I mean, that's pretty amazing. My brother-in-law drove his kids down from Ottawa.

* * * * *

A writing acquaintance of mine told me recently that, for her, these things often feel like a funeral; the work has already had a long life, and taken even longer to get published. In other words, it's more like an ending than a beginning. My response was to say that I'd try to make it more like a wake.

And I did. Having the art show, especially, was meant to add something more to the event (and thank you, too, to Maggie for participating in that). We did have fun.

But still: too much work to sell a small box of books. And then you spend the next day saying names out loud to yourself, names that just pop into your head, names of people who you've supported in their ventures, and should have been there, and weren't.

I've been down this road a couple of times now (one example here) and it's just too hard to get people out of the house. You can only impose on your little circle so much, and I don't have any extended family here and I'm not well-connected the way a certain class of Kingstonian is.

This is why political parties have to send out vans to take people to the polling station on election day.

To be honest, it's easier to sell things online.

So I think I'll drink the leftover beer in memory to that kind of ambition, and next time I'll leave the work to other people.

* * * * *

Postscript (upon being reminded by C, thank you): One last (and great) thing that I want to mention -- a giant thank you to Steam Whistle, for being so kind as to sponsor the event.

* * * * *

Tomorrow: some pictures; I promise.


  1. there is no nice way to say it.
    it's a shitload of work.
    of course if my life was slightly different, i would have been there. i am truly enjoying the book and will most likely finish it today, instead of working.

    congrats on it all. it is truly a great thing.

  2. Thanks, Susan. I'm so glad you're enjoying it.

  3. I think the bigger point of having an event is that it gives you another way/reason to discuss your book in other forums. And depending on the format you can sometimes get media interested. (Though admittedly, I still don't know if /that/ actually sells books.)

    But yeah. You can probably get almost as much mileage out of a small, disorganized event as a 3-ring circus.

    Do you have photos? Quill & Quire runs launch photos on their blog sometimes.

  4. And don't forget that all that leftover beer is courtesy of Steam Whistle who supported you with two cases of free beer and a nifty Steam Whistle tin bucket.

  5. Jill: Thanks, that's a great idea.

    C: fixed!

  6. I've only had two art openings and I hated each worse than the other - too much stress and the thing about it being an ending too.

  7. Glad it was fun, even if it was too much work. Sounds a bit like a wedding.

  8. Great to hear that it all went well

    And lovely to see a few pics on Jill's blog. The paintings look fab

    Can't wait to see more pics

    PS. The book is all packed away, ready for the trip to Melbourne :)

  9. amazing. a little bit scary but i love these style: )


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