Here To There

What the publisher of my first novel lacked in size they made up for in disorganization. When I asked them when the novel would be out, my publisher said, “November!” He was right, though not until a year later. He didn’t know this when I asked him, and so I said, “There’s something called Bookfest happening here in Seattle this November. Will we have books by then?” Of course, he said, sign up and we’ll send ‘em to you. Since the book was still a year from publication, all he could send me were order forms for the book. Still, I’d signed up, and I went. I sat at a table for “local authors.” This meant self-published authors. The fellow next to me was selling a self-published coloring book called Captain Oink Oink. He wore a plastic pig nose. But at least he had books.

As it happened, we local authors faced the table where the big name authors signed books after their readings. That day, the author doing the signing was David Guterson, whose follow-up to Snow Falling On Cedars had just been released. He wore a beautiful black blazer and a crisp white shirt. I sat stewing in my own booklessness as I watched one fan after another line up for the chance to share a few words with Guterson. “How do I get from here to there?” I wondered.

Last weekend I met Ken Sherman, Guterson’s agent, at the PNWC. He was a nice fellow and we talked for a while about things publishing and not publishing. I can never hear Guterson’s name without thinking of that day at Bookfest. Where, besides at a table with a man wearing a plastic pig nose, did I think I was? Where did I think I needed to go?

The answers I would have given that day would have only guided me back to where I already was. As if there existed some road map from his chair to mine. As if I even wanted his chair. As I talked to Ken Sherman, I thought, I am where I have always wanted to be. I was there that day as well, though I couldn’t see it because I was too busy looking at all the pretty places I wasn’t.

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