Friends on the Fly

You will not hear me complain about book tour.  What a privilege to ram around the country meeting folks who not only read books, they read my books.  As a guy who never set out to write, let alone write a book, book tour is a fine flabbergasting blessing.

If there is a down side (not really a down side, just a not-so-obvious side) to book tour, it’s that you’re moving pretty much constantly, and even in between the publicized events you’re stopping at bookstores all over the place to “sign stock” (autographing books so they’ll put a “signed by author” or “autographed copy” sticker on the cover in hopes of snagging someone’s eye) (ouch), or trying to find the local public radio station studios, or washing your socks (carry-on wardrobe doesn’t go far over 26 days!), or returning rental cars, or catching early morning flights, and as a result of just the general day-to-day, there is rarely very much time to sight-see or visit friends.

When it does happen, it is a rare blessing.  In Minnesota I had a two-minute hello with some friends who hosted my family during a literary festival a while back.  In Boulder I was able to catch up with an EMT pal — we visited while I signed the last of the bookstore’s stock.  Same thing in Highlands Ranch, where I visited with the father of my given daughter (sounds weird, but it’s not…I’ve explained it in Truck and Coop) for fifteen wonderful minutes before driving off in the rain.  On my first night in Seattle the schedule allowed me to grab Pho with a friend.

And on two recent occasions I had the most wonderful opportunity of all: a chance to talk shop. I cherish living in rural Wisconsin, raising pigs with my wife, going to the feed mill with my daughters, making first responder calls, and basically living in non-writerly circumstance.  But every once in a while you get a hankering to shoot the breeze with someone who knows about simultaneous submission guidelines, rights of first refusal, the intricacies of parallel structure, the meaning of STET, and so on.  Twice in the past week I have had that opportunity.  So thank you to David, who (in the company of Kimberly) bought me dinner and engaged me in collegial conversation regarding the arrangement and rearrangement of words, and Chris, who (in the company of Charlee) gave me great encouragement, treated me to my first-ever San Francisco cable-car ride, and was just generally hospitable.

As some of you have heard me say, I miss my family when I am on tour.  But how nice it is to call home and tell them of the friendly faces I see every day and every night, be it from the podium, for a quick handshake, or a rare sit-down dinner.  No one can compel you to buy a book or take time to carve a hole in your personal or work time in order to attend a reading or — in the case of the two authors mentioned above — carve a hole in your writing time, but you do it anyway.  On behalf of my little family and myself, thank you.

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