Some writers leave the provinces and yield to the siren call of the city in their youth.
My favorite author Willa Cather did that.
She was published by Alfred A. Knopf, a powerful imprint designating quality, so powerful it has survived many mergers and is part of Penguin Random House, one of the Big Five publishers that still support many authors on national book tours.
I published with Herald Press. I tour at my own expense, grateful for honoraria when offered.
Should I despair of speaking in the Big Apple? Should you?
Willa Cather was born in the nineteenth century. She didn’t do book tours. Like my friend Parker Palmer, she might christen two weeks in ten cities as “the trip from hell.”
I’m a different kind of writer from many of my mentors; I’m entering the field as a beginner. My apprenticeship in art was through reading. My reasons for writing have more to do with ending well than with a youthful calling, let alone a “career path.”
I’m a memoirist, not a novelist. There are thousands, if not millions, of others like me in the land. We’ve enjoyed careers in other fields. We have family and friendship priorities now. We love to read. And we’re responding to an inner tug: “write your story!”
I’ve done that in the form of Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World.
Now I’m touring. I like to think that Willa Cather might like this kind of tour. For three reasons:
- It’s organic. Every place I’ve spoken relies on re-engaging relationships from my past. Social media has allowed me to explore all the layers of time in my life and all the branches of friendships connecting close family and friends to their close friends.
- It’s on my schedule.
- I combine it with my “bucket list” of places I want to see before I die.
Using these three principles, I offer these parallel suggestions to other writers.
1. Review your friendships to see if you have an organic connection to New York City. I had two. One with Manhattan Mennonite Fellowship (reading there this Sunday) and the other with a blogger Charles R. Hale who lives and writes about the city and who devotes much of his life now to helping create venues for artists living in the city. He was kind enough to invite me to join Artists Without Walls last Tuesday night at The Cell Theatre, an lovely and intimate setting.
2. Create a reading that piggybacks on other events. In my case, I added readings before and after the huge Book Expo America event. I’m also planning to visit journalist Bill Moyers in his studio. I learned to know Bill at The Fetzer Institute and will be thanking him again for his wonderful endorsement for Blush.
3. Some places never get checked off my bucket list! New York City is #1 on the permanent list. Because Stuart and I are here together, we’ve already enjoyed some once-in-a-lifetime experiences. I described some amazing encounters in my last post, and I know there will be more to come.
Oh, and did I mention the two most special little people in my life, grandchildren Owen and Julia, live just across the Hudson River?
I like to save the best for last. 🙂
Are these tips ones you can use? What can you add or subtract from your own experience? Let’s make this a really useful list.