Twice now, in the past month, I have enjoyed the more public side of being an author. Once at the book signing and then again this week at the Essex Book Festival launch during which I enjoyed talking to visitors about the process of writing, encouraging them to join writing communities and persuading them to take part in our 100 word story competition. I was almost interviewed on Essex Radio (again!), chatted to a local publisher and the leaders of several writing groups as well as suceeding in enticing a local independent book shop proprietor to stock the book I have written with my friend. All in all a wonderful day, but I found myself again contrasting my public side with the private side and revelling in the real joy of an author’s fame, its fleeting nature. At public events I love chatting to people, encouraging them to write, having someone tell me how much they’ve enjoyed my work, even, dare I say, posing for photos, but at least part of the joy of this is the knowledge that, once the event is over and I leave the venue, the people who are now so keen to chat to me would never pick me out in Sainsbury’s. I really enjoy being able to go from known to unknown in the space of a few metres and, last week, I wrote a little poem about it, which I’ve included below. I hope you like it and that you will forgive the cryptic West Wing reference, it was just too hard to resist.
The Book Signing
Sitting here, staring out
Watching people mill about.
I see them as they scurry by
Trying not to catch my eye.
I fiddle with my pad and pen
Trying not to look, and then,
“Excuse me, will you sign my book?”
The tension broken, battle commences
With pen-swords and table fences.
To Gill, Marie, Steve and Fred,
Each one a marvel in my head.
Their money spent, curiosity smitten,
They want to read what I have written.
They want to see inside my head,
To visit places filled with dread.
So I smile and sign my name
A hundred times, each one the same.
Next time I look up from this flock
And steal a glance at the clock
Three hours have passed, it’s time to flee
To go right back to being me,
To pass those people on the street
Who queue in hopes that they might meet
This author with her brand new book
Who now deserves no second look.
I smile, I have enjoyed this game
Of fleeting, ephemeral, temporary, fame.
Oh look, I said three things that mean the same.