This past weekend, I exhibited my books for sale at the Tucson Festival of Books along with two beautiful friends who were also showcasing their books. The weather during the two days was terrific, and you could see the happiness on the faces of the people visiting hundreds of vendors, walking their happy, tail-wagging dogs and puppies, and little children having fun and socializing! I’m not going to mention COVID, but if we still do what we need to do, we will enjoy more activities like the festival!
However, that is not the point of this blog; the fact is that I learned a valuable lesson about validation during these two days. Yes, I am exhausted from talking to many interested people who wanted to know about my books, but I’ve learned something I’ve always known: validation comes from within.
This is the second time I’ve attended the festival as a participant (COVID shut the festival down). The first year I was, of course, extremely nervous and my friend, colleague, and fellow writer who asked me to join him in the booth had to help me with my confidence.
That’s a long story, but let’s say I sold out during those two days at the festival. Now, here we go again in 2022, and my confidence sunk to the bottom of the ocean. This time, I was flanked by two writer friends whose books had intense and great plotlines – and then there’s me – the poet. For some reason, I believe that most readers are not into poetry. I know that sounds silly, especially coming from an English teacher and writer of poetry, but it is not as popular as novels.
Since Amanda Gorman showcased her extraordinary talent as a poet and wrote a spellbinding poem for Joe Biden’s Inauguration, there has been a popularity rush to heave poetry back on the creative writing table (maybe it’s only me who feels that way). When I stood in the booth over the two days, the first book out of the three I was selling (a romance novel, a book of short stories and poems, and one of my earlier works of poetry), the first one I sold was – yes – the poetry book!
The potential customer who came to the booth was an elderly woman with a cane. She came up with her friend, picked up my book (that I jokingly call a pamphlet) of 15 or so poems, looked through it, and purchased it.
She said to me, “It seems your poetry is personal, but it reflects emotions that we all feel.”
She got it! She understood my poems. And that became validation that my poetry is not so far out! I am relaying some feelings that people can understand.
After selling out later that day (I had one book left), my friend gave me the eye of “I told you so” (I hate it when he’s right)! And the next day, the woman and her friend returned to our booth, so the friend could buy a historical fiction book from my other friend. My first customer gave me a positive review of my poetry book, I teared up!
What am I trying to say here?
I love poetry because I can express my feelings and thoughts in many words and phrases. I do not have secrets about composing poetry; I see pictures of my words (Now I sound like I’m explaining myself on a talk show).
Before my journalism career, most of my writing was always locked up in my file cabinet – only for my eyes because I never thought anyone would get excited about poetry like me. But, what happened to me over the weekend validated that I can write poetry and not feel ashamed! I have poems that people want to read!
I am stepping out on faith, and I will network with other poets, enter poetry contests, and, yes, keep writing poetry to share with others who enjoy reading poetry. I will also open the doors to reading more of my work.
And, by the way, if you don’t mind, please go to my author’s page on Amazon.com and take a look at my books. Humor me, or not.