Day two of this exercise found me saying goodbye, something which will increase in frequency as the days pass. Sunday is a time to find those who are rarely found, and I shook hands with people who wished me luck. Lyla and Hunter didn't shake hands, or wish me luck. I don't think Lyla and Hunter even knew I was saying goodbye, but I said it anyway, and gave them an extra biscuit (actually, I gave them several extra biscuits, because what else are biscuits for). Lyla and Hunter are dogs that I walk on occasion, and they are the kind of dogs I knew I was going to miss. I walked them for the last time today and these little things chip away at me.
It's a strange thing to feel sad about never again seeing someone else’s dogs, but the simple act of saying "have a good life" hits a maritally-doomed dog-walker right in the chest. I came home determined to be whimsical, upbeat and unashamedly positive. I checked my stats for this web site and they had doubled overnight. I checked CreateSpace to discover that I had sold my first print copy of The Midlife of Dudley Chalk, a novel I published only recently.
I told Sarah. She was not surprised.
"I posted a link to your first blog entry," she said. "It was hard for me to read, but it was good."
I'm sure it was hard for her to read, and it is a measure of the woman that she sent out links to drive traffic to my site, despite the content. Thanks to her and to the book-buying genie, it became a day of promise as well as goodbyes.
After bidding farewell to Lyla and Hunter I made my way to the library. Everyone was there. Seriously, if you are looking for someone, go to the library on a Sunday. It was standing room only and, strangely, almost everyone working there was Chinese. This is not a particularly Chinese-heavy community. I found it interesting that all of the Chinese in the area have migrated to working for the Lower Merion Library District. It could have been a post dog-parting hallucination except that I still have the book I checked out. I also have the DVD of "Adaptation," which the Chinese check-out lady said was good. She also thought that O Brother Where Art Thou was good, and had similar feelings about 'In Treatment' series 1 through 5. As I wended my way around the young Chinese lad who was either pushing or hiding behind a trollyload of books (and took a sneaky glance at the attractive Chinese girl who's only job appeared to be decorative), I wondered if there was a thriving community of exotic people living in the travel section, cataloguing by day and watching top quality movies by night. These thoughts entertained me as I walked to the car. The car park was full. Sunday afternoon at the library is a time of mystery and wonder.
It was not just to find out the Asian opinion on the works of Charlie Kaufman or Homer that I beat my way to the library on Sunday. It was also to get a book on marketing -- specifically marketing for independent authors. I have to fund a life in the Alps, where I suspect pet-sitting is not big business. I genuinely believe my work will sell once people discover it, but so far I have done little to promote it. Sarah is all over Facebook and reaches out to people through the power of social media, but it takes something creative and intelligent to get people to part with their money. I felt it was time to get a book from the library. I might even read it.
Other thoughts crossed my mind while huddled in the most popular library in America. I have tried various schemes over the years and none of them really came to anything because I have spread myself too wide and too thin. It would do no harm to congregate these things onto one place: This site. Anything that gets people to come here increases my chance of becoming a household name.
Such as? I hear you ask.
Well, in 1999 I moved from England to the Greek island of Corfu. I lived there for 4 years and my beloved dog Tyson was born under my bed. When I moved there I began to write accounts of my new life and tried to make them as entertaining as I could, sending them back to the editors for whom I worked so that they wouldn't forget me. Eventually I began to sell some parts of that journal and one entry won me a creative non-fiction contest. It was a very fertile time and I haven't really done anything with that material. I posted half of it to a "we might pay you one day" web site and then forgot it. People liked it. I think I shall tidy it up and post it on this site as a separate blog. It's there, sitting doing nothing and could be used to build an audience. You could view it as a prequel to the next move; a glimpse of what you might get from this unfolding journey from the US to Slovenia. I'll put it up in the next few days.
The other thing is a puzzle I put online but which, due to lack of marketing, withered on the vine. I shall recreate it here and give away my books to people who can solve it. It's fun and it might drive traffic.
All I need are book sales, and I think they will come once people feel confident of what they are getting. Sarah says that nobody knows me yet, and this is my way to show them. The Greek tales go a long way toward making me known, and the puzzle? It is a mystery hidden inside a story. The story is the true tale of Sarah and I, and how we fell in love. People will get to know us through that, and also win a book. Doubly wondrous.
It is now Monday morning. I have five days of pet-sitting left. Five days of saying goodbye to animals that I've taken care of for over a year. It's going to be a sad week, but also a week where I need to get busy. By the end of Tuesday I need to be the owner of a plane ticket to Slovenia.
[ps...Have you tried the Armchair Detective Challenge yet?]
Slovenia, writing, other things