I turned 40 today. Somewhere along I-90 just before Chicago and on my long drive to New York City for a few book readings/signings for The Yogurt Man Cometh. I’m not excited even though almost a year ago when I set this up, the thought of having book promotion in the Big Apple seemed like Big League. It’s anything but. Any author with the stamina to push his or her work from time to time can find an event just about anywhere. Like with writing, marketing of writing is all about persistence.
I pass through Indiana and find it remarkable just how many new churches there are. A friend recently told me that the US is the only country (in the world? Or in the Euro world?) where church attendance is rising. I’m not sure if it’s true, but what little I’ve seen of Europe shows me a lot of old cathedrals with the regular crowd habitually showing up. Not the swooning, ecstatic and sometimes self-righteous crowd that blossoms in the US with its own homegrown forms or “faith-free” ambiguity.
I pass a car wash with a sign that claims, “Tokens make a great gift!” No. They do not. In fact, that is a rotten gift. That is a gift that the passive aggressive get for their friends who neglect their dusty cars.
Tonight I sleep on the ground. My back is killing me from sitting wrong in the car for over 7 hours, but I welcome a piece of flat turf in Beaver Creek State Park in Ohio, just a short drive from Pennsylvania. The air is stifling, 90 or more degrees, but a starry night and I stare up at them through the screen of my tent and the branches reaching to each other above me like London Bridges. I sleep for maybe an hour and it seems those bridges are in fact falling down. A sudden sound of rain I think and there’s a light barrage on the tent nylon. But no; it’s the wind soughing through the treetops in a sudden long gust that almost makes me nervous. After a short while it relents and the temp drops just a few degrees so that I stop sweating. A few visitors pass just outside the tent flap, possibly raccoons, almost human in their careful even steps. I’m 40 years old. I’m an author. This is how I make a self-financed book tour profitable or at least not detrimental to my savings account.