I recently planned and hosted “IndieVengeance Day 2014, Revenge of the Indies” and had the massive blessing and joy of several days with some of my favorite people on this planet. To call them friends would be an understatement: they truly are my family, and I’m missing them terribly now that the weekend is over. I’ll be posting a blog detailing the event more fully at a later date (my lucky self gets to go to the World Series, so I’ll be off the grid for the rest of the week), but I’d like to write about our first night’s event.
Simple idea really, IVD. Get a bunch of Indie Authors together, find a spot to host a signing, and off we go. This year, we added readings into the mix to give those attending the event as guests a preview of our work. Since my short story fiction really isn’t all-age friendly, I spent several days over the summer combing through my work to find the poems that would be age friendly for those at the event that are too young to hear my harsher work. And then I put it together in a single run print on demand book to be used at signings when I’d need to read my work out loud.
The book was printed and delivered by the end of June.
At the start of the first event, which was Friday night, I really had no idea of what to read. So I asked my friend Jackie Smith how many poems she thought I should read. She told me seven. I jokingly grumbled about it, but went with the number since it seemed like a good length of reading material. I flipped through my book of poems, found one that was good to start with, and when the time came for me to read, I nervously stood up, trying to fight down the anxiety I always get when I need to speak publicly. Leading up to the time I was scheduled to read, several of the other signing authors were ribbing me, asking me to read a poem that’s on what we’ll politely call the adult side of things. And I’ll admit, I got a kick out of having to repeatedly say no, and them laughing and urging me to read the most graphic of the few like that.
I stood up, and read two poems, and when I got to the third, I stopped, and said, “I’m not reading that…” Considering the back and forth goofing off that had taken place in the last hour, it was understandable that everyone in the room started laughing, assuming it was a more adult poem than I’d intended to read. But it wasn’t. And for some reason, I felt the need to explain. So, in the presence of my friends, and a few guests who had shown up for the event, I explained that I would go ahead and read the poem, but that for those who didn’t know, I had lost my father over the summer, and the poem was about him.
At The Window Again
I want to wait for you at the window again
Wait to see your headlights turn
And flicker against
The path to our front door
I want to spring out
And have you pretend
To be surprised I was kneeling
At the window again
I want to see your joy
At the very fact of my life
Want to see your pride
That I’m there to draw breath
I want to wait for you at the window again
When tomorrow was thirty years away
And I only bore a single name
You see, I’ve had a very hard time dealing with the death of my father. And I hadn’t remembered placing that poem within the selection of poetry I’d made for the book. Coming across it like I did was very much a gut-punch, because I’ve been missing him terribly the closer we get to finalizing his estate. And seeing that poem, those words that I wrote to my father before a particularly dangerous surgery well over a year ago hit me very hard. There I was, standing up in front of a small crowd, reading my work. And he was not there to witness his daughter doing what she had long dreamed of: becoming an author and being an author. My mind flashed back to when I was seventeen and the Plano Star Courier published an essay I wrote about my grandmother. The day the essay was printed, Dad rushed around getting as many copies of the paper as he could out of pride in his daughter’s gift of the written word. He beamed for weeks after that essay was printed, and bragged about it for years after. A copy of the clipping from the paper sat on his bookshelf in a frame until the day we took it down and boxed it up a few weeks ago.
And despite how badly it hurt to read that poem, still, I read it, to honor my father. And though I had to pause a few times to take deep breaths and fight back tears so I could continue reading, and though I stumbled over the words several times, when I finished the poem, the room erupted in applause. And it truly touched me to know that everyone in there understood how hard it was for me to do that, to read those words.
I wish my father would have had the chance to hear my read that poem aloud, that he’d of gotten the opportunity to see what I put together for IVD this year.
My father won’t get to see what I put together for IVD next year, or the year after that. He won’t get excited phone calls from me when one of my books hits the bestseller’s list. He’s gone, and nothing will change that. And while I aggravated him during his life time here on this earth, still, he was proud of me just for the simple fact I existed, that I was alive and his daughter. The best I can do from now on, and what I have been trying to do since he passed away is life my life to honor him, to experience life fully as he was unable to. He always pushed me to be courageous and put my fears on the back burner to experience life as much as possible. And when my friends and the guests at the event applauded at his poem being read, I’d done just that. I shucked my fears of crying in front of crowd of people, let myself feel everything, and read from my heart. And even though it hurt to do so, still, there was a healing in knowing that I was able to honor him with my words, that I was able to share what he meant to me.