Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Paying Your Dues (Rainy Day Blues)

I had a fun long weekend with the family on the mainland. The excuse: I'd been invited to give a reading from Fatal Tide at the grand opening of the new North Vancouver Civic Library, an event that I'd be looking forward to for months. The weather forecast for the weekend was a little iffy—especially after the spectacularly sunny weekend before. And the festivities were mostly outdoors, although the readings would be under tents.

We had a grand time on the ferry ride over, at the aquarium (although A.J. insisted on seeing an octopus and I couldn't find one anywhere) and at the Lonsdale Quay Hotel, which overlooks the tugboat berths and drydock cranes: i.e., toddler heaven! It looked briefly like we might have luck for Saturday's weather: cloudy but no rain. But when we woke up that morning, the wet stuff started falling, as it can only in North Van. Foolishly, we thought we might walk the 14 blocks to the library—most of them up-hill, of course—and arrived pretty sodden. (A.J. at least had acquired new Thomas the Tank Engine galoshes that morning.) I felt bad for the organizers, who had gone to such efforts to put on a great day for their community, only to be thwarted by the worst of weather. The silver lining on the all-day clouds was that more people got a look at the new library, as many took cover from the downpour in the packed building. The music was great (local bands Mimosa and The Renegades), and Hollywood actor turned author Meg Tilly did a reading before mine.

Worse than having to follow Meg Tilly was following the arrival of the cupcakes. A swarm gobbled up the free treats and then quickly dispersed. My reading tent was left virtually empty. I begged Jenny to stick around (A.J. had soiled his diaper, Briar was screaming) for fear of not having any audience whatsoever. Finally, a couple of St. John's ambulance attendants came by and joined a few other people escaping from the now-monsoon-like downpour.

I'd written enough rock and roll profiles during my years at Monday Magazine to know all about paying your dues as an artist with low-attendance gigs The show had to go on, and I think I still gave the same performance I would have done to a packed auditorium. The drum of the rain at least added an audio component to the excerpts about the stormy Bay of Fundy.

I sold and signed three copies and had a good chat to a few of the people who stuck around. Hopefully, I made a few converts. Three o'clock hit, the show was done, and the rain abruptly stopped. The next day was gorgeously sunny, a perfect afternoon for an outdoor event. Maybe next time.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Lookin' Sharp

Well, I've been neglecting my blog (and much else) to get prepped to go back to teaching for the first time in 16 months. The first week of classes has definitely been an adventure—just not a very outdoorsy one... which has been painful, given what a gorgeously sunny September we've been having here in Mile Zero!

It feels like I've been wrapping up my promo work for Fatal Tide. There's been a few enjoyable moments: a wonderful interview / review in this month's Focus Magazine (sadly, not online) by Sara Cassidy, one of our country's most attentive and perceptive writers about literature and the writing life; an excerpt from my book on the website of Sharp Magazine, a new Canadian men's publication (check out the Flash graphics: you'll find me squeezed between two cheesecake shots!); and invitations to read and talk at 1) the opening of the new North Vancouver Civic Library on September 20 and 2) at a meeting of the South Island Sea Kayaking Association on September 24.

Alas, the highs and lows of becoming a published book author will soon give way to weeks of marking essays. Still, I look forward to being immersed in my students' stories after more than a year of being absorbed—perhaps self-absorbed?—in my own tale-telling.