Three days ago, I received a proof copy of my novel from the publisher. Finally, after a harrowing ten-year journey, A Listening Thing will see print later this month. In fact, I know the planned date, but I won’t divulge it just yet. First things first: I have to live that long. To me, that, not waiting, is the real challenge. If I survive, there’s a lot of living and writing and dreaming to do between now and then. Waiting is almost a form of arrogance. It assumes my cares and concerns are more important than yours, which is simply not the case. It can also blind me to daily miracles readily at hand: family, butterflies, freshly picked produce, the light in the eyes of everyone I meet — love; memory; even death. I refuse to die waiting. I would rather die living. And when I do die, whenever it is, I want to live dying.
That said, I’m very excited about this book. In reviewing the proof, I’m pleased to say that so many things about it have been done right that I know it will be a delight to hold in one’s hands and heart and mind. There is nothing glitzy or glamorous about it; it’s an elegant yet sensible volume, presented with a warmth and style perfectly in keeping with the story and the ideas it conveys. It will hold your attention while remaining a generous, accessible friend.
Now, please keep in mind that I’m the world’s worst salesperson. A Listening Thing has no real budget. I won’t be giving readings or going out on tour. Instead, I’ll be sitting here doing what I always do, with the added charge of making this release a special, memorable occasion, much as if it were a child’s birthday party, and the childhood it celebrates is one we hope might last forever. So consider this your invitation.
A funny story: The first proof was mistakenly sent by the printer to Vermont. The second proof was correctly addressed, but the shipping conglomerate again sent it to Vermont. I was about to move to Vermont when the third proof finally landed in my mailbox.
And of course there are other possibilities. For instance, the world might declare bankruptcy on our publication date, ushering in an even Greater Depression. I’m smiling at the thought already. Because I know A Listening Thing is tougher and more resilient than any Depression, even my own. Let come what may. In the meantime, even this must be an effective piece of writing. If it isn’t, then I’ve broken our trust and must work to make amends.