There are lots of ways to measure success, I guess. You could look at number of books sold, royalties paid, hits on a website, comments on a blog. I love and welcome all those things. My favorite, the one that brings true delight, is connecting with readers and writers. In other words, humans.
By that measure, my day at the Index Arts Festival brought spectacular success. I sold one book – yay! – to add to my contribution to the Red Cross. That book is now in the hands of the wonderful woman who organizes the spoken word part of the festival. Since the theme of An Alien’s Guide is staring the impossible in the face and doing it anyway, its arrival in the library of someone who herds writers, poets, and storytellers into some semblance of order is entirely appropriate. I’ll cherish my connection with Sabrina, who is a gifted writer and poet in her own right.
I also listened to enthralling spoken word performances, storytelling, and readings. Susan Schreyer read from one of her mystery novels; now I’m going to find out why so many people die in the fictional small town in Washington state she writes about. Young poets read their own and others’ work, and took my breath away. A local Indexian (?) told stories of his early days in the US after coming from Iran, and had us rolling on the floor with laughter at his tale of getting a magic bean stuck in his ear. His wife invited me to come talk to kids in a school program in the fall. I’m thrilled to do that. One beautiful lady read a poem written about her bird-watching honeymoon, in which she and her husband “forgave each other for not being birds.”
Outside, artists showed their work and musicians kept the air filled with the sounds of fiddles, banjos, guitars, violins, and voices. The music competed with delicious smells of giant Cuban sandwiches on the grill, the whistle of trains roaring through town, and one or two thunderclaps that ushered in brief but refreshing downpours. A redheaded beauty, about seven years old, sold me two homemade cards for only a dollar. If I don’t recognize the crayon-drawn pictures on each scrap of paper for what they “really” are, it’s only because I’ve forgotten what she told me (bird? worm? fish?). They are still original pieces of art at a bargain-basement price. (I’d have paid a dollar just to watch her skip joyfully through the park.)
I’m already planning to attend again next summer. I hope to have new work to read, and will anticipate the new stories and poems from my fellow writers with glee. If you’re available, meet us there and share the delight.