There have been a few strange and funny reactions to the news that I published a book, Sandcastle and Other Stories -- finally. I know my friends are happy for me, family too. If you're following my life writing, I grew up in a family that usually doesn't praise good news. We move onto something more worthwhile to speak about when together, like the state of the world, the evening news report, eschewing graciousness like pros.
I don't take this personally -- it's a stolid Midwestern trait; don't toot your own horn, and don't express any emotion when someone does toot his or her horn. Boy, am I guilty of that now. I've toyed with the idea of constructing a sandwich-board sign so I can walk the downtown Seattle streets on weekends with the words, in all caps, saying: BUY MY COOL BOOK -- don't think I haven't thought about it more than once. Maybe I could write off the expense, add a bell to ring. It is what it is. But, WHOA, my little brother, for the first time I can recall, wrote me an email saying what a great accomplishment the book is. Loved that. Goes into the saved email folder. Yin and yang.
My father, who is the artist who created the painting the Sandcastle and Other Stories book cover art is taken from, couldn't even see the book because he has a Nook, but he was really happy; he is my number one creative influence, and he understands all the long hours that go into creating a work that someone will look at for a second -- read in my case (or not) -- and form a quick opinion, good or bad, and then keep on moving to the next bright and shiny bauble.
Usually people love to share negative thoughts more than positive. Why is that?
Thank you, Kelly, for giving me a space on your blog to speak about writing, my writing life, Sandcastle and Other Stories, and the reactions people have to the news. I love this saying: If you want to clear a room, a French cafe, or a crowded beach, yell: "I've got a manuscript!"
I've said this before on my own blog: it's hard to get someone to read short fiction. Most people, readers, wouldn't think about choosing a collection of short stories to read; to them the novel rules. Time to read must be found too, and in this busier Social Media world, fewer and fewer people sit down to read books.
One of the first people I told, one of my closest family friends, even said this to me the next split second, putting my news off immediately, when I was calling to tell her about Sandcastle and Other Stories finally being available at Amazon. The first response to my happy news was, "I'm also getting my photographs ready to go to form my own book this Summer. It'll be a collection of the best floral photos from my blog paired with great quotes. Isn't that wonderful?"
"Yes, that's terrific."
She went on, "I can't wait to get this book out." Now she was completely oblivious to the fact that I had just called and said, hey, I just published my first ebook.
I steered the conversation back, "It took a lot of time to get Sandcastle and Other Stories out, get all the behind-the-scenes things like formatting, book cover, final copyediting run-throughs finished."
"Well, you know, Justin, I don't like reading short stories." All I thought was: Thank you for being a friend. And that song played in my head all day.
I listened some more and nodded and hung up with the dazed expression of the blindsided. I have longtime friends through Twitter, Facebook, Triberr, who have never replied a word about it either -- too busy. Everyone is on a separate journey, and I don't take it personally, even if I'm sharing these quirky response stories here -- I'm a follower of The Four Agreements, its philosophy, a book I recommend to everyone.
I do get wonderful reactions as well. A tennis mate just told me he finished reading the stories. He only reads the classics, is on a Sinclair Lewis binge presently, but he took the time to read the ten tales. He said, "The short story Sandcastle..." ~then he mimed a WHOA~ "Your writing has a good cadence."
The other funny reaction came from a couple who I met not too long ago, from Southern California. Steve, took a photo of his wife, Sharon, in a nice nightgown (all proper!), holding up her kindle; her shocked expression was hilarious. The photo caption: Reading the end of Sandcastle.
The best to you for reading, and I hope you enjoy the tales if you end up reading them. I highly recommend them. If you have your own stories out, please let me know so that I can congratulate you; just point me in the right direction, but, please, don't tell me on a beach or in a Paris cafe.