Snow and Pages

After a weekend of insane travelling and constant readings, appearances, panels, etc, plus moving on top of that, I have arrived in Cleveland. I will be here for quite some time, so consider the Ohio address the official one for now.

As if to herald my arrival, it snowed. This makes me very happy, though alarmed from a global weather patterns standpoint. So I am sitting in my new bedroom with a thin scrim of snow outside, watching the deer graze. I am still very tired, but I hope to be back in fighting charm-shape in time for the launch party on Saturday. I’ll be back in New York on Sunday. Waiting for me when I arrived yesterday were three boxes of Orphan’s Tales–I can hardly imagine that this book I started so long ago is now sitting in boxes by the dresser. (Which, if you want to win a free copy, these folks are running a giveaway.)

It is very quiet here. I have spent the morning designing flyers for the launch party, and bemoaning the fact that although I have a dashing pirate costume to attend as my erstwhile Captain, I have nothing to wear which could be the girl in the garden–which is really the authorial doppelganger. I meant to shred my old renfair costume, but it seems to have gotten lost in one move or another. I don’t suppose anyone has a spare they wouldn’t mind donating…?

With the snow and the cold it feels like Christmas, like I should be wrapping presents and sucking on a candy cane. It seems so strange that it’s not even Halloween.

So I sit, slightly melancholy, and preparing to go out into the wet snow to get dog food and shampoo and possibly a copy of Pattern Recognition, which I was listening to on audiobook on the drive up and am dying to finish. And work. So much work to do.

The week in New York and Maryland was rather amazing. Ellen and Delia are among the world’s best humans, as everyone knows, and it turns out that Delia even covers her macaroni and cheese in ketchup, as I do, which makes me slightly less of a freak. I am starting to understand the appeal of living in NYC. I still don’t want to, ever, but it does feel alive, it does feel dynamic and real. And like Japan, just existing there day to day makes you feel massively competent and grown-up. And I love my New York people so much. They are such marvels.

I would like to tell you all about Capclave, which is a very good con, and how the panels were fun and chaotic in a delightful way, how my workshop went quite well even though there was a problem with the sign-ups and only three people came,  how I met a ton of new and interesting people, and learned a lot at the riotous small press magazines panel. But the thing is that in a year all I will remember of this con was what happened at the end, a story I have yet to be able to repeat without crying.

This woman came up to my autograph table, you see. Like many others, she absently flipped through a copy of The Labyrinth that I had on display. She read the author’s bio, and looked up at me. And her jaw dropped. “You wrote Music of a Proto-Suicide?” she said, incredulous. I laughed and said I did. It was the con of MOAPS and Orphan’s Tales–I’ve never seen so many copies of the latter and someone actually had a copy of the former for me to sign.

But this woman started to cry.

Through her tears she told me that she used to work at a suicide hotline. And that a young woman had called in a few years ago, in bad shape. She said she had finally found something that spoke to how she felt, and started to read from a book of poetry–my book of poetry. The woman at my table said that she kept her talking and they read poetry back and forth to each other all night, and reading like that was what had gotten that lost soul through to the morning. She said she had been looking for the book for so long, but she never knew who wrote it.

At that point I was fighting not to cry myself. My book, my dinky little book printed off someone’s home computer, had had this kind of effect on someone, had helped save a woman’s life. I can’t even begin to speak to that. It’s extraordinary–and there are books which have done that for me, certainly, but I never thought it would flow the other way. You send these little books out into the world and forget about them, send them out like notes in a bottle–and look what happened to this one. I can’t believe it, I really can’t. I’m so deeply honored and taken aback by the power of that.

So I return to the wild north knowing that no matter what else, I have done one good thing.

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