I came home to an explosion of valentines wrappers and cards strewn all over the kitchen table. All four kids were downstairs watching Avatar: The Last Airbender episodes, only Link felt the need to welcome me home with a hug. They were all fine and had been fine all afternoon while I was gone. I have reached the point where I do not need to obsessively plan contingencies and give detailed instructions when I’m going to be gone. The holiday also meant that the kids did not have a homework panic because none had been assigned. All was well at Chez Tayler.
People came up to me at the table, not to ask me questions about Howard, but to say hello and ask me about my writing and projects. This time I had answers for them, which is a huge improvement over last year when I stood behind a table of Howard’s things and only had one four-year-old book to show. The difference is in me, I have shifted inside, made space for my creative things, and bit by bit they accumulated over the course of a year. This year I can point to two books on the table. In a few months I hope to be able to point at four. I talk about those hopes and people are glad for me. Then they tell me about their hopes and I am glad for them.
Often it is the small conversations which stay with me, the seem inconsequential: talking about projects and events. But then one person will share some small piece of information which shifts the possibilities for someone else. I see it over and over as the people come to our table to talk to us and to each other. I love seeing that moment when a new future becomes visible or a solution is handed over. Sometimes I get to be part of that exchange, sometimes I am the recipient. At home I think of the faces I saw today, the conversations I had. I turn them over and examine them like a jeweler examines stones. Small moments shine, the people shine and I’m not even sure they realize it.
Publishing a book is often compared to giving birth with analogies drawn between pregnancy and writing. There is another similarity, authors share their publishing stories just as women will spontaneously tell labor horror stories to a pregnant woman. I hear stories that sound to me like glowing shining tales about the wonder and beauty of this process. Other tales clarify how badly this can all go wrong. I listen and I wish somehow the whole thing could be easier and less messy. The thing is that there are happy and horrible stories about every single available publishing path. Listening to some of these stories is educational so that pitfalls are identified: theoretically to be avoided. However listening to too many stories can leave me discouraged and wondering why I want to publish in the first place. Then I remember the people who come up to the table and tell me that my words made their lives better. I just need to keep on going and pray that I’ll muddle my way through some hybrid path that takes me to places where my words can continue to help.
The room was full when I walked in, I’d not really expected that. On other occasions when I’ve taught solo presentations I had between five and twelve people for an audience. The room was full and I walked to the front to lay out my presentation props: books that I might want to hold up as examples. In the end I forgot to hold them up. I forgot to mention several other things as well. This did not matter because somehow as I followed the bread crumbs of my presentation notes I was able to say the right things. I did not say all of the right things, but sometimes the whole room laughed, which is a pretty good sign of a presentation going well. I was also able to see moments when an audience member nodded or a head dipped to scribble a note. These are also good signs. Probably the most important thing I said was that some of what I said is the wrong advice for some of the audience because everyone has to find their own ways to build creativity into their lives. Sitting here and thinking about it, I keep thinking about additional things to say. Some of those will end up in the presentation notes I type up here for the blog next week. Others will wait until I give the presentation again at LDS Storymakers. Mostly I don’t know exactly what I said or how I said it, but people came to thank me afterward which means that for some of my audience I said exactly the right thing. There was a recording device in front of me I wonder if I will continue to think I did well when I listen to the recording. Yes it will be available on the internet. I’ll link it when it is.
Howard and I had solo presentations at the exact same hour. We made jokes about how our friends would have to pick which Tayler they liked best. I pictured myself with a mostly empty room next door to Howard’s full room while he made the audience laugh. Both of us had full audiences, which felt very happy to me. Howard’s presentation/workshop also went really well. I hope he gets a chance to give it again.
I was not sure if I should go out to dinner or rush home to the kids. I sort of split the difference, staying to eat for awhile then ducking out to go home. Partly I needed to make sure that all was well. (It was, even with valentines detritus strewn everywhere.) The other part was my need for the quiet of my house after the sociability of the convention. I needed to hug my children and be here for bedtime. The routine comforts us all and grounds me. I have to sit in my house with my fingers on the keyboard to unspool my thoughts, tucking them away for the night too. Tomorrow will be another full day. It begins early as I have a panel starting at 9 am.