I'm a bit late getting this one up: Cynthia sent it to me while I was in New York, but I had a lot of problems getting online at the hotel. And, truth be told, a lot of other places I either needed or wanted to be. In any case, here's Cynthia on her Ontario tour.
Funny Retirement. Religious Baby.
Those are categories in the greeting card aisle of the local drugstore, but there are none labelled Voiceless Book Tour. For three days this past week such a card would have been appropriate for me. Only a kind of short dry squeak was possible, and even that hurt.
To spend days in silence is in some ways pleasant. No effort is required. Others do all the talking. Because of my speechlessness they sometimes went into a lot of interesting and thoughtful detail, impossible if I'd been in my usual mode of Yes but and Don't you think and Why on earth doesn't he, etc. Also, in many conversations (not just the ones I'm in!), listeners often do not really listen to speakers but just wait greedily for their turn. That pattern too was broken. To be outside of habit felt good. Finally, because I couldn't talk I could read even more than usual. Always welcome, that.
So -- yes it was restful, yes instructive, but all the time I was anxious as the squirrels now rushing about the roof and eaves of our house. They are frantic with parenthood; my brain ran horrid fantasies of being unable to do my readings in Ontario. I'd have to sit silent, feeling a total idiot. Meanwhile some luckless "volunteer" would read parts of The English Stories aloud. And I wouldn't be able to greet anyone who bought a book and wanted it signed. And of course I wouldn't be able to do any interviews. And and and.
On the last full day of laryngitis, while editing the bulletin board in our kitchen I found among the cartoons and clippings a quotation from Sathya Sai Baba: "Before you speak, ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence?"
That erased all the anxiety. Gone gone gone. Completely.
Yes, my voice is back, about 85% today, and I hope 100% by Tues June 2 when I read at Ben McNally's Bookstore, 366 Bay Street, Toronto, 6 pm. I'm happy at the prospect of the two weeks ahead. The clipping's in my wallet. I do believe I'm ready for the book tour.