Karen Rivers

on validation and parades.

Karen Rivers

It's book release day in the US for THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ME.  

I am incredibly excited and also not at all excited.  I remember reading something someone else wrote about how the day your book comes out, you will be expecting there to be a ticker-tape parade and it won't happen and you will be left feeling oddly bereft.  That's not entirely true.  On book release day, half of you WILL be expecting a ticker-tape parade.  But the other half of you knows that in no way will you even be aware that your book has come out.  It will be like your left brain and your right brain are doing a logic match in your mind:  


No, no one will CARE!

And then, there it is.  It is just another day, with some loose end-of-summer sunshine and taut fall breezes rushing white clouds across the sky.  It is your dog's (fake) birthday.  (Fake because you have no idea when her birthday is, but your kids have made up a date and so, it is so.)  You will have to do the things you have to do, such as buying a hot water tank and trying to ascertain if the squirrels (rats?) are IN the roof or ON it. (Oh, please let them be ON.) You will have to write your kids names 800 times on pens and crayons and sweatshirts and socks.  You will watch an Edward Burns movie and feel depressed while eating a curry that you made, which isn't nearly as good as the one you could have (should have) ordered in.   You will have a headache.   You will spend money on moisturizer and a copy of The Breakfast Club.  You will try (and fail) to get your iPhone repaired.  The ordinariness of the day will sweep over you like ennui.


It is also not an ordinary day.

In a stockroom somewhere, someone is using a box cutter to make that satisfying slicing sound on a box that contains multiple copies of your book.  Someone, somewhere is putting your book on shelves (face out if you are lucky), your book taking its place amongst other books, like babies lining up in an old-fashioned orphanage waiting to be claimed. (Choose me! Choose me!)  Someone, somewhere, may pick your book up and feel the smoothness of the cover and glance at the jacket copy.  Someone, somewhere might carry your book to the register and pay for it, watch it be slipped into a bag.   Someone, somewhere might take it home.

Someone, somewhere might read it.

I don't exactly know what the difference is between a ticker-tape parade and a regular one. Being Canadian, I suspect that our parades are a pale facsimile of their American counterpart.  I haven't seen a real parade in years.  

My kids have no idea either as the only parade they've seen is the one that used to go by our house on the eve of the local fair.  Mostly it involves people (advertising their business, invariably) in cars (and on foot) hurling candy at them with wild abandon.  The kids all line the street eagerly with bags and pillowcases, like it is a version of Halloween that requires no actual effort on their part. There seems to be virtually no energy put into the making of floats or the performances themselves (with the exception of the one or two marching bands), most of the preparation seems to take the form of procuring garbage bins full of hard candies.  

The Hard Candy Hurling Parade could be the third category for parades, the other two types being mostly rare and elusive, like fishing eagles or mountain lions.

I'm not sure which of the three types the half of me that wanted a parade would have wanted.

So there was no parade.

The phone didn't ring.

My in-box did not fill up with celebratory notices.  (Although by posting it on Facebook, I did get a lot of "likes", which do mean a lot, whether they ought to or not.)

I was not treated to grainy, black and white, hidden camera footage of people seeing my book on a shelf.  (Though that would have been fun.)

But still, I'm walking around feeling pleased and relieved, as though the preceding two years have been building up to something real, and not just something I dreamed about and confused with real life.  

It honestly does not matter how many books you write, I promise.  This feeling is the same every time.  

I think they call it "euphoria".  

And there's no type of parade that can even come close to that.