This is a case of “be careful what you wish for” on steroids. Three books — one I wrote and two I edited — are all hitting the streets in a three-week span. Needle on the Bone came out officially on Nov. 30; To the Stars Through Difficulties: A Kansas Renga in 150 Voices was placed in my hands today; The World Keeps Turning to Light: A Renga By the Poets Laureate of America moseys on out very soon.
For the last few months, I’ve opened many emails with proofs of this, that and the other to review, and strangely enough, often the same things from each book within a day or so. Cover designs seem to run in packs, all passing by my window in early November or so. Proofing title pages and interiors seemed to happen at the same time also. When, sometime in late November, I had final proofs to okay on both anthologies arrive within ten minutes, I had to wonder if someone or something at the controls of the universe was having a good laugh. But it’s all good because I’m laughing too.
No one plans to have so much converge. Some of these books are late, some are early, but in the same sense that most newborns are on time (or on their own time), all of this books arrived when they should have. Still, it’s confusing and even just a tad overwhelming to consider all the readings and outreach ahead, particularly since I’m still tooling around the country with The Divorce Girl in tow. Last week, in Tallahassee, Atlantic Beach and Orlando, I ended up talking about and doing some readings from both Needle in the Bone and the novel together because how could I not?
Now I prepare for the book launch for Needle in the Bone Saturday while occasionally diving into piles of emails to set up bundles of readings for To the Stars Through Difficulties. As long as I rest enough, procure enough strong coffee, exhale slowly and remind myself which email refers to which book, I’m not getting seasick and am enjoying the ride. Each new book I hold in my hands is a reflection of years of work and love. So it’s no wonder at all the joy to be had at even reading the copyright pages and spines.
What makes all the book births even sweeter is that these aren’t just my books. Both renga anthologies represent the voices of dozens (The World Keeps Turning Toward Light) and even 150 or so (To The Stars Through Difficulties). Needle in the Bone is a book I share with Jarek and Jane, and although they’ve passed through death to wherever they are now, Maura and Lou too. Which is all to say this isn’t just a party of books, but the stories, voices and images of community contained in and spilling out from many pages. As a writer, I couldn’t imagine any better dream or reality.