I’ve made a book. It’s a bit of an odd one – a collection of Valentine’s Day Cards that I’ve created – closer to poetry than story. Each page only holds a handful of sentences at most. You can read more about it here.
It’s available through a print-on-demand service online, but I had a few copies of it printed. Some of these copies are available for sale at my favorite coffee shop, where I usually go to write. They’ve sold pretty well, considering I don’t promote them, and the only advertising is a little sign that says they cost 15 euro. I’m happy with how they’re doing.
What’s fascinating, and weird, is to be there when someone takes a look at the book. I often sit there and write and I see people come and go. Now and then someone picks up the book, has a look at it, and put it back – or they leaf through a few of the pages and then they put it back.
They have no idea it’s my book that I’ve made, or that I’m sitting there looking at them and wondering what they’re thinking. Probably just as well. I still haven’t been there when someone’s decided to buy the book.
Today, it happened again. I sat there writing, drinking my coffee and wondering how the characters in my story really felt about what was going on.
Next to me, at another table, sat a group of girls. Young ones – upper teens at most is my guess, no more than 21-22. One of them spotted the book and brought it over to the table and started looking through it.
At this stage, I’m having a real hard time concentrating on my writing.
I’m trying my best not to look like my ears are reaching for every word they say. I don’t think they notice.
One of them, the one who picked it up, keeps saying how weird it is. They read the occasional page, and seem to find them cute/funny, but the girl who holds the book keeps repeating how weird she thinks it is. So weird.
It’s weird for me too. For a moment I’m considering whether or not to tell them it’s my book and explain to them where it comes from, but I decide against it. That too would be weird.
Fortunately, I have an appointment, and have to leave, but the memory sticks with me.
I think most of all I’m amused.
The girl very clearly didn’t “get” the book, and I think there are probably two reasons for that.
First, she just flipped back and forth through it, picking out the odd page here and there. Doing it like that, you have to get lucky for the book to make sense. Some of the cards do not make much sense on their own, and a few of them (Potato Angel Buffalo) don’t make any sense whatsoever. Taken like that, the book can probably seem a bit weird.
Secondly, she was young. I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable with this explanation, but I think it really may be a factor. Chances are that if you’re young, you don’t quite have the frames of reference to relate to all of the cards, even if you get them in context.
If you’re young, you’re fed an image of what love and life are supposed to be like that may not accurately match what life has in store for you. You’ve got more expectations than experience.
This is probably a bit rich. After all, as a middle-aged man, what do I really know of what teenage girls know about love? My theory is built on preconceived notions about how the world works, and it could very well be wrong. It’s not like I’m an expert on love myself.
I think that’s a key point.
If my world is built on preconceived notions of how the world works, it must be safe to assume that it’s the same for most other people too. Then again, that too may be just a preconceived notion…
Either way, I’m not disheartened that someone thinks my book is “so weird” although it was a weird experience hearing them say it.
It’s fascinating though. The book makes perfect sense to me. I know people who love it. I love it. People read different things into the words, and different cards speak out to them. That too is fascinating.
Finally, a slightly modified version of the book is due out in early November. I’m reviewing the changes and letting them mature in my mind a little before I finalize it. It’s on its way though.