Monday, May 18, 2009

Launching The English Stories (A Cynthia Flood Post)

One strategy when facing an exciting but stressful prospect is -- not exactly denial, but displacement. As the launch for The English Stories got nearer and nearer, all my agitation about the book's quality and its probably dismal reception and the dreadful reviews to come (or, worse, the absence of any reviews) and the terrible sales and the snide remarks due from certain people -- all of that drained away into worry over the venue.

Convinced that I'd got carried away and invited far too many people for the space, again and again I ran a bunch of disaster fantasies. Annoyed guests leaving in a huff. Complaints from the hotel's other patrons. Serious discomfort for the elderly and disabled among those invited to my event. Not enough books for sale. Not enough food. Not enough chairs. By the afternoon of the event I was even fretting about vases, in case anyone brought flowers. . . .

Several anyones did -- irises, alstromeria, tulips, orchids, azaleas, all by chance in a palette of purples and pinks and mauves. They looked beautiful in their vases. There was a big crowd but just enough room, and a lot of noise so I had to Project Strongly as I read, and fine food, and lively conversation, and laughter, and a beautiful view of English Bay on a summer evening, and much general enthusiasm. Every single book got sold. Altogether it was a great evening, and timeless in that way things are when concentration on the Now is total.

So The English Stories have been launched. They're quite separate now, floating away, on currents over which I have no control. And early reactions are coming in. Surprising, some of them.

My literary education predated post-modernism by a chunk of years, and I've never been able to accept the notion that a writer has perhaps even less idea of what a text is about than any reader. (An analogy -- if I cook a cheese souffle for dinner and a guest says, "What a terrible fish stew you've made," it's hard to take that comment seriously. Yes, I know analogies don't make arguments all by themselves.)

Still, it is true that a writer can learn a lot about what s/he's written by listening to what readers notice, what moves or upsets or interests or angers them, which characters they care for, what brings tears, which descriptions make them frown, which story endings they regret or are happy about. That's the agenda now for The English Stories -- discovery. It'll be interesting for sure.

1 comment:

undergroundstreams said...

Congratulations on a successful launch, Cynthia - I'm looking forward to reading the stories.