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Stitches and What it MeantFebruary 26, 2014

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Darling KnittedWit and my favorite wee thing, F. 

The thing about Stitches West is that, like all  yarn conventions, it's HUGE. The first time I ever went to one was back when it was still hosted in Oakland. My sister happened to mention she thought there was a "yarn thing" happening downtown. I thought I'd swing through and poke my head into the seven or eight booths that I'd find. 

Instead, I found hundreds of booths. Tens of thousands of skeins of yarn (I know this because I bought most of them). I learned to spin at that first Stitches, on a drop spindle made from a dowel and a CD (I was terrible at it). 

I had no idea there was so much yarn in all the world, and there it was, in my town, in a convention center. 

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Knitmores! I haz them! 

Fast forward to 2010. My first book was coming out TWO DAYS AFTER Stitches. I'd been heartbroken about the timing, but I made flyers to pass out. Due to illness, one of my friends couldn't use her booth, and with her permission, I totally hijacked it. I had nothing but flyers, so I laid them on every inch of table. I passed them out to everyone I saw. 

 From my blog post, I'm reminded I got a lot of differing reactions, including this one: 

Knitter, looking at the back of the excerpt, where my picture is: "Oh, I know her. She's from LA."

Me: "I'm from Oakland."

Knitter (suspiciously): "Hmm." 

But people took them, and people bought the book that Tuesday in March, 2010. 

I know this because I saw them all last weekend, four years later. I can't tell you how many people said to me, "Oh! I love your books!" Or "I met you when you didn't even HAVE a book, just those flyers!" 

There is nothing as gratifying as hearing "I love your books." Nothing. I daresay the words "What a gorgeous child" don't compare. It's possible that the phrase "Your child is a genius" pales next to "When are you going to write another book like that one?" 

I came home all three nights completely exhausted, worn out to the bone. I perched for the weekend at the Verb booth (next to the amazing Romi) and seriously, while I wasn't tied to the booth in any way, I spent most of my time there. I was desperately scared I wouldn't be there if a reader wanted to say hello. 

A READER. That's the thing, dude. I have readers. Of my books

Pinch me. Hard. Four years and six books later, it's still not real. 

The most interesting interaction I had this weekend:

A woman approached me at a high rate of speed. She dropped into a crouch next to me. "You write books." 

"I do, yes." 

"So how do I finish the two novels I've started?" 

"You write, and keep writing till the end. It's not easy to finish, but I know you can--" 

"How do I make them good enough to publish?" 

"You revise. I have a blog post that might be helpful…" 

"No, no. I don't have time for that." 

"I hear you. I work 60 hours a week at my day job…" 

A raised eyebrow. "What do you do?" 

"911." 

A flap of the hands. "Oh, well, yeah. My problem is that I have an INTELLECTUAL job. That's why I can't finish my books." 

What I didn't say was that after I got my MFA and found out that I sucked at teaching, I sat my ass down (literally, at a burger joint) and flipped through a trade journal looking for a job that wouldn't tax my creative brain. The writer friends of mine who were teaching or tech-writing weren't doing their own writing anymore. I picked 911 (not knowing then how creative you have to be on a second-to-second basis) in order to have a job I could leave behind when I took off the headset. 

Maybe this woman couldn't leave her intellectual work behind her when she got home. I could give her that with a smile. 

But the interaction made me realize something: I'd chosen the right path. I'd made a really long-range goal (get a day job that will pay for the writing habit) and I'd pulled it off. Fifteen years after that decision, I was at a convention, talking to my readers. MY READERS. That woman, as much as I laughed when she walked away, did me a huge favor by reminding me of that. 

 I haven't "made it." In my mind, I won't have made it until I'm making enough money writing that I can give up the day job (but giving up the chance to save lives? How does a person really give that up?). And if that someday happens, I'm sure I'll have a new goal that will equal "making it." I hope so, anyway. 

Because a girl has to have a dream. And I have so many.

Bonus for reading this far: Lucky and Clara video! 

I love how absolutely delighted Clara looks. LOOK! This chihuahua plays with ME! (You can see Miss Idaho looking on in disgust in the background.) Lucky goes back to his forever home tomorrow, and I'm going to MISS that little bugger. He's an absolute delight.  

*And yes, I bought some yarn this year, though I managed not to for most of the three days. Right at the last minute, 25 minutes before the closing bell, I fell down and swiped my debit card on my way to the floor which was padded with cashmere so I didn't really hurt anything but my budget. I have no pictures of the evidence, but I'm telling you: the find of the year was Sweet Fiber. I can't tell you how awesome this is. People. Go buy this stuff. Right now. So soft. The colors, so saturated. Damn. AMAZING. 

** Also, I hired an author's assistant to pick up the pieces I tend to drop. She's a knitter, and has been a friend for years. I'd tell you who she is, but then you might take her from me. DON'T DO THAT. Oh, okay, I'll tell you. It's FishWithSticks. She's already shining up my life, for reals. I feel so FANCY. 

*** T-minus-6 days till Pack Up the Moon. *eep*

Comments

oh, I forgot you were going to be at the Verb booth, so I didn't stop to say "hi" (because I can go to Verb anytime...) I dropped most of my cash at Miss Babs and for a red dotted yarn bowl!

I'm so glad you were able to laugh about the woman who Just Doesn't Get It. If there was a magic pill you could take to finish your book it wouldn't be such an accomplishment! I was trying to explain the concept of creating because you have to (just like you have to breath, sort of), but she didn't really get it either. I feel sorry for folks like that.

I'm so glad I caught you at the very last instant! I got super sick that night and have had excellent reading material for my whole cold - small mercies!

I love your time scale - 15 years. It's a valuable perspective, that it takes time to get where we want to be.

You have Readers. And now you have an Author's Assistant. Oh, and you have published really wonderful Books (note the plural). Yup, I'm pretty sure that makes you a real-to-the-bone Writer, even with the day job. Yay, you!!

This post makes me so, so happy. I love how hard you work and how beautifully you write and that you're willing to do both so we get THE STORIES! You rock.

Yes, nodding head, to what all the previous commenters said. Your books, Rachael, have gotten me through colds, flu, sleepless nights. I love having a good book to look forward to. Oh, and you can add to the list . . . you have fans! Not just the kind you wave to get cooled off. Real fans, who would form or join a Rachael Herron fan club, if they had the time!

Trying to comment...Again. LOL It's been one of THOSE days.

Aww. Thanks for the sweet words. And come on. you know I can't be taken away from you. How many times have I told you that you will need a restraining order and the cops to get rid of me??? LOL.

Hoping this one goes through. Third time's the charm, right?

Thank you for this post. I always feel like I'm a pest (asking when you'll have another book finished) and kind of dorky (with the "I LOVE your books!"). Now I know that you don't consider it pesting and I may be a dork, but it's ok. :-)

Now I have a dilemma. Do I read your new book as soon as I get it (and finish it way too soon), or do I let it sit for while and let the anticipation build? Of course, I pre-ordered this book months ago, so I've ALREADY waited... :-)

It was so nice to get to see you and give you a couple of hugs :) I'm so proud of your literary achievements. You've worked so hard and I'm so happy to see you succeeding in your dreams! ^_^

Hello again from the girl wearing the Downton Abbey Road T-shirt! It was AWESOME to finally meet you (and give you a hug or two).

You're such a talented writer, Rachael. I adore your books! You inspire to me and motivate me to go after my dreams. :-)

*HUGS*

Good for you to have that kind of foresight! I'm pleased when I can plan ahead to next Tuesday. I really admire you for having a goal in mind and for being able to work at it over 15 years (!) to get where and what you want. Congratulations!

Obviously Ms Intellectual is not very intelligent or she would be aware 911 requires not only intellect but creativity, compassion and responsibility.
I'm sure no one dies if she doesn't do her job well. Not even of embarrassment.

You have chosen the right path. Thank you for taking us along with you.

A great story - it's amazing what you can learn from those strange, possibly irksome interactions. Good for you for following your dreams and just making them happen someway, somehow! Can't wait for your book - a couple more days...

My book has shipped and I will have it tomorrow!!!!! :-)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Rachael loves it when book clubs read her work! She's happy to attend book clubs that read her books either in person or via Skype. Contact her at rachael@rachaelherron.com to make arrangements.

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