On April 7th, I delivered my first public reading and book signing for Dancing With Gravity at Left Bank Books in Downtown St. Louis. Some 100 people attended and many more sent emails and good wishes. In time, maybe events like this will become routine. Perhaps I’ll even morph into someone like Margaret Atwood, who invented a machine to remotely sign books. Or Anne Tyler, who grants interviews only via email. Or J.D. Salinger, who refused contact with readers and reviewers alike. But for now, I find the whole process as dazzling as a minor miracle.
My husband videotaped the event. And only this morning could I bear to watch it. That, perhaps, tells more about my self-doubt than I’d like others to know. But, with a book out in the world, self-revelation seems an inescapable theme this year. On the tape, I appear much calmer than I felt—which reassures. But the tape doesn’t help about the book signing. I woke before dawn on Friday morning, certain that I’d simply stopped writing mid-sentence in a few dedications…then smiled and handed back the book. So if some mystified customer is reading this now, please know it was not an “artistic statement” and I’ll finish my sentence, I promise. Just give me a call.
The last time I felt so happy and overwhelmed was at my wedding and reception many years ago. Then, however, my husband was a beacon that guided me through a day of joy and high emotion. We were starting out on another life, and I was becoming someone else. Had, in fact, crossed some invisible threshold already and all that swirled around me was at a distance.
I can’t hold tight to Father Whiting. I have to—indeed, I’ve already—let him go. Our paths diverged on April 7th. He is in the world; and I hope that fate proves kind. And I…I am starting another life…have crossed some invisible threshold. Father Whiting, thank you.
My reading is posted on YouTube. You can watch it at: