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.


Julia at Orca Book said...

Oh dear... that sounds terrible. I can relate. We did some fund raising for Raise-a-reader downtown today and we were also affected by the weather. Lots of people glaring at us from under their umbrellas as we asked them to stop. I don't think the sopping wet newspapers we were offering helped sweeten the deal at all.

David L. said...

Yes, reading in the rain can be tricky—and print a frustratingly soggy medium. At least you weren't handing out Kindles or eBooks and electrocuting potential readers!

Funny moment from the North Van event. I decided to begin my reading, talking into a Tony Robbins-esque headset mic that was totally unnecessary for the sparse audience (but did make me feel professional), by announcing, "I'm David Leach..."

... to which my 2.5-year-old son replied, "And I'm A.J. Leach!"

I may be raising a reader. I also seem to be raising a heckler!