Nov 2 2010
I can't believe this latest Book Tour is over . . . and while it was going on, I couldn't believe how much time it was consuming. But I loved it nonetheless and paradoxically, in one sense at least, it just flew by.
That sense of paradox, of living through real-time experiences in a world where everything seems insanely accelerated by forces over which one has no control, gives rise to the old "If it's Tuesday, this must be Belgium" syndrome… Of course, the whole sense of unreality is born, almost inevitably, of the hectic rush of trying to be everywhere at once, straitened and constrained as one constantly is by the exigencies of very brief time allowances in any one place. In southern Ontario a few weeks ago, for example, I had the classic example of what's involved in such things. My publishers installed me in the Royal York Hotel, the five-star, Grand Old Lady of the Canadian Pacific Hotel chain, right in the heart of downtown Toronto. From there, I was picked up and driven each day to a different outlying city, visiting local bookstores in passing through each town, saying hello to the staff on hand, making myself known and thanking them for their efforts on my behalf in "hand-selling" my books, and autographing the stock they had in hand, for sale later. (It's absolutely amazing how much more quickly a book will find a buyer if it has been signed by the author.)
In those cases, I usually end up doing an evening "event" in the city in question . . . talking to the people who show up, telling them about the latest book, reading a brief extract, and then answering any questions any of the people in attendance might have for me. That part of things, the Q&A session, is invariably the most enjoyable part of the whole gig for me. Anyway, on at least two of the days when we did that, we visited multiple towns en route to the evening event for which we were headed. On the Tuesday, for example, we left Toronto around 8.30 am and headed for Guelph, Ontario, and from Guelph we hit Fergus, Ontario, then on to Cambridge and eventually to Burlington, Ontario, where an evening event (my seventh appearance there in the past twelve years) was scheduled at A Different Drummer, one of my all-time favourite independent book stores in Ontario.
We arrived back at my hotel in Toronto around 10.00 pm, having been on the move all day and battling constantly with heavy traffic on all the so-called "Freeways" and I fell into bed and died.
I always enjoy meeting my readers face-to-face, though, and the feedback they provide seldom fails to kick-start some other, often radically different, train of thought that can frequently lead me to re-examine things (both in my head and among my perceptions) that I had previously considered to be foregone conclusions, set in stone and convincingly dealt with to my complete satisfaction. Funny how that happens… Anyway, when it comes to meeting my readers, my pleasure seems to be inexhaustible, and that, in turn, recharges my batteries no matter how severely they have been depleted. Several years ago, I encountered a bright-eyed young corporate marketing type, newly trained and freshly hired, who insisted that we were going to have to identify my "demographic," which was a big buzzword at the time. My response was that I didn't have one, and of course, she pooh-poohed that as being nonsense and insisted that everyone simply has to have an identifiable demographic. (Apparently it's included in the Marketing Bill of Rights, which should never be confused with the Marketing Bill of Goods.) I continued to demur, but thereafter, every time I encountered a two- or three-generatiion family turning up at one of my events–kids, parents and grandparents each clutching their own pile of personal books for signature–I would take a picture of them and send the resultant shot to Marketing… She soon stopped insisting, and by the time she moved on to greener fields, the entire crisis had been abandoned and forgotten. Nevertheless, having said all that, it's good to be back at home again and sleeping in my own bed…