|A view outside The Leadership Center in Aurora, NE; it seemed especially appropriate to my last-but-one destination on a four-week tour.|
Anyway... back to the tour, before it all blurs in the memory. I thought the Nebraska Writers Guild Fall Conference was a thrilling event. About eighty attendees, plus several members of the public. Number one, I was staggered by the level of experience, talent, ambition and accomplishment amongst those present - and consequently nervous about addressing them on 'my remarkable career'. The more people I met, the less remarkable I felt. Number two, I was overwhelmed by the generous and welcoming mood. I was received so warmly.
When I took the podium at 0845h on Saturday morning, I spoke about the two strands which have woven together to make me the writer I am: firstly, the experiences I gathered as a young man, working some 40-50 jobs while figuring out how to be a writer, and then the many ways in which I have earned a crust as a professional since the early 1990s. I raised a few laughs. Even got away with a risqué story from my days in a steam laundry when, as a fresh-faced 14-year-old, I heard two 50-something women discussing contraception.
I sold quite a few books too - albeit at discounted prices. There was no way I was going to be able to fit any leftovers in my suitcase, which was already perilously close to being over-weight when I flew in.
And then came one of those 'from the sublime to the ridiculous' moments. My final gig was to be a reading from 'Cody, The Medicine Man and Me' in downtown Lincoln. I was ready, I had a dozen copies of the novel with me, and a favourite pen in my top pocket. Only one problem: nobody showed up. I'd heard of such stories over the years, and always wondered how bad it might feel. The answer is, not quite as bad as I feared. In fact, as we got to the appointed hour I found myself hoping nobody would show. Or rather, please not just a single person. How would I handle that? I suppose I could point to the fact that Garth Brooks the country singer was in town, giving eight shows over the weekend... but that would be pretty lame.
|Another mood-reflecting shot, downtown Lincoln, Saturday evening|
Over the next few days I shall have to evaluate the whole enterprise. And I am sure I will decide it was well worth it. I remind myself that even failures are stories. More so disasters.