Stitches and What it Meant Wednesday, February 26, 2014
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.
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?"
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*