Every week the Wisconsin State Journal runs “Roughneck Grace,” a weekly column written by Mike (many of the columns will be adapted from Mike’s Tent Show Radio monologues). This week’s column “Motel inspires feeling of luxury” can be seen online here.
That moment on book tour when you’re on your way to a county jail to discuss reading, writing, and self-employment with a group of men behind bars and this sign is posted 300 yards from the front door. They had some questions…
Thank you to the literacy volunteers, county staff, and law enforcement crew who set this up. There are more people than we know quietly doing good work from angles you’d never suspect. And to the men who sat around the table, thank you for your hearty participation. I wish you good luck and a strong future.
I’m tickled with how this discussion begins; the reader admitting she was assigned my book in grad school and “I didn’t enjoy it.” Then another story unfolds…
I’ve been doing this for decades and continue to be caught off guard by how kind, thoughtful, and reflective readers can be, and how they give authors their time. It is a profound gift, and I never take it for granted. I am also refreshed by the candid nature of this discussion–the reader says some terrifically gracious things, but also speaks to the idea that not every book hits the same mark. That’s honest and fair.
Also chuckled when the reader discussed her reaction to my author photo: “That guy wrote that?!? Interesting!”
And the line she quotes from Montaigne in Barn Boots? I remember tussling and chopping and reassembling and reading that line aloud, over and over. Trying to get it right. Not knowing if I overdid it or underdid it. To know that someone discovered it and enjoyed it makes every little scribble and re-scribble worthwhile.
One note: I’m agnostic, but due to many nights standing mystified by the Milky Way am not an atheist.
Here’s Population 485.