So, last week, I spent 3 days, for 10 plus hours, standing on cement. I had been behind a table at Calgary Expo before, but that was a time when I was working solely for Clare at FaeryInkPress.com. This time, I was selling my own work on one quarter of Clare’s table.
Clare has a wonderful recap of her experience at Calgary Expo here. I may or may not do post-mortems of my own–if I do, they won’t be here–but I did want to talk about a few things that came up when I was selling.
First, there is a certain emotionality that comes into play when selling your own work. Where all the hours of writing, editing, fiddling with formatting, and overall drudgery…that they are worth it. That seeing someone genuinely excited to experience your work, willing to pay for that work. There isn’t anything quite like that rush.
Second, talking with someone who is excited to have someone with a piece of their identity in the story–you can tell the moment it hits. The moment where their eyes get a little wider, their lips part as they fumble for how they can express what it means to them, and their hand drifts forward to anchor themselves to something you’re created.
Third, listening to someone express their need to belong in a creative work. I’m not talking about works where if you kind of blur your eyes, you might be able to see something queer (queer baited). I’m talking about something that is admittedly queer, doesn’t placate or soften its shots for a general market, and not something where the identity alone is the plot. That really is the purpose of writing. To give someone a story to belong in.
I was really fortunate to be face-to-face with so many positive, receptive people this weekend. I heard many stories about the journey to be comfortable in one’s own skin and/or queerness. And I did some home, tired and worn out, swearing cement had leeched into my legs and into my bloodstream, and I cried.
And then I opened my notebook to write.