Gabby Wallace sat at one of my tables back in 2010 when I was a server at a Latin American restaurant in Brookline Village. We got to talking about travel and language, and she bought a copy of Wonder/Wander.
Today, Gabby is a language teacher and entrepreneur based in Tokyo. She recently interviewed me for her Laptop Language Teacher blog and we continued our conversation started back in Brookline years ago.
This is one of the pleasures of publishing: finding common ground and connection with people whom you might not otherwise meet, being part of a conversation that compels you and is bigger than you.
Self-publishing is not equal to being selected by an established publisher in many peoples' eyes, even as the line between them becomes increasingly thin. As a writer, it's worth considering: what will satisfaction look like when your writing is complete?
During the creative stage, you control the quality of your writing, as well as the time and effort you put into the work. Self-publishing takes your control one step further, ensuring that your work is able to be read. Yes, I wanted the publisher's seal of approval for Wonder/Wander (I sent it as an unsolicited manuscript to Graywolf, Coffee House Press, and Milkweed Editions in 2009). But deeper than that, I wanted to share my experience and myself through what I had written. I wanted to make my book.
Publishing brought satisfaction in quiet, intimate ways: when I held my book in my hands for the first time; when I gave copies to my family and closest friends. And this: meeting like-spirits, like Gabby, who find the book and share their stories; who join me in the conversations, which illuminate our larger work.
Know thy self (Publishing)
I met Julia Moss a couple of years ago at Boston Children's Hospital where she--as a local high school student--volunteered with our Creative Arts Program by sharing her cartooning skills with patients. Now she's a freshman at Harvard and co-founder of the Harvard College Medical Humanities Forum (HCMHF), designed to create opportunities for students to discuss and write about the intersections between medicine and the arts/humanities.
Julia interviewed me about my work as Writer in Residence in the Creative Arts Program at Boston Children's Hospital and the edited transcript is now posted on the HCMHF blog (MedHum.tumblr.com). Read the interview here (or click "read more" below).
Thanks, Julia, for the great work you do: lending company and levity to the patients at Children's Hospital, and bringing awareness to the vital overlap between medicine and the arts.
Back in 2009, I promoted Wonder/Wander on local cable-access shows: "Tu Opinion Cuenta" (with William Pena), "The Callaloo Express" (with Lynnette Laveau Save), and "El Show de Fernandito" (with Fernando Bossa). Below is the interview from "El Show de Fernandito" (7min 15sec; English and Spanish).
Each appearance was fun and forced me to find the language--in both languages--for talking about the book, the journey, and the reasons for both. At that time, I was waiting tables at Orinoco Kitchen in Brookline Village where we had a small display of Wonder/Wander books for sale. I rarely pushed them, but customers would browse and from time-to-time someone came to dine who was from Venezuela or had traveled Central America or had a son interested in Spanish language or who just identified with the spirit of the work and they would buy a copy from me, their waiter. I enjoyed that serendipitous sales approach. I never expected Wonder/Wander to climb the sales charts or be thrust on people whom it didn't interest. Instead, I think books are as diverse as people, and we need to find the ones that resonate with and inside of us. Even as I use social media as a promotions tool, I believe that books find their readers and readers find their books through much subtler channels: the same ones that connect us to friends or lovers.
Welcome to The Park.
The Park is a creative play space (aka blog).
RubioLand--my bilingual blog about Ricky Rubio's first season with the MN Timberwolves--is long since done, but you can still find it in the archives.