Book events can be challenging for the self. Yes, it is flattering and exciting to be sitting at a table as The author of This book. Sometimes people even reinforce these feelings by coming up to the table to congratulate me on being published, to meet an author, or to ask what it’s like to write a book.
And then there is the self-exposed side of things, the vulnerability that travels with putting one’s self out there in such a bold and permanent way and waiting to see how people react to what I have offered. Sitting at the book signing table as people smile and walk on can really reinforce these feelings of insecurity and discouragement.
Yesterday I was at the Doylestown Bookshop in Doylestown, PA. Received with a hearty welcome by the store owner and staff, it was clear they were ready for our book event. Posters in windows and on doors and My Life as a Border Collie strategically placed around the store, I felt their enthusiasm and support.
The signing started well and even early as a woman was there 45 minutes before the official beginning with the specific intent of getting a signed copy for her daughter. About an hour into the signing, things slowed down. This means no one was coming to my table to talk and no one was buying my books. For this border collie author, this type of lull poses an emotional challenge. I can’t get up and herd people to the table or better yet to the cash register. So I have to settle and be.
As I settled my self, Grace came over to sit with me a bit. I shared with her some of my feelings, laughing at my self some for thinking things always need to be at full tilt and really starting to let go of my pressing expectations to have more activity at my table.
At some point in this visit with Grace, I took off my scarf and put it back on in a new way. I jokingly said to Grace, “I have now re-arranged my scarf. Maybe this will help to change up things here at the table.” I also re-arranged the books for sale on the table, continuing to joke with Grace about creating new energy and space here.
Within minutes, much activity started to happen! My dear college roommate, Debby, entered this grand finale part of my story first, bringing into the bookshop and to my book table her wonderful energy. And then a slew of people started to come to the table, so many that I can’t remember all of the individuals and their stories. Excellent conversations occurred about the book, dogs, and codependency. The length of my signing event was increased and many books were sold. This border collie left the store feeling very good about her day’s work.
So what’s with the scarf part of this story? Well for me as a recovering codependent, that’s one of the most important parts of this story. No, I don’t believe in a direct way that re-arranging my scarf will invoke what I want. What I do believe is that my re-arranging my scarf became an active metaphor for connecting with and changing my internal self. In this case, it meant letting go of disturbing feelings and thoughts about my self and my work and being with what is. I re-arranged my internal self as I re-arranged my scarf. As I loosened the scarf and let it hang in a different way, I was helping my self to loosen and hang. I was freeing my self from the mental and emotional traps I was creating for my self.
Already Grace and I have had much fun reminding ourselves to “re-arrange our scarf” when we are feeling stuck and want to be free.