I’ve learned two things recently: The first is that publishing a book is not a cure for depression, but it’s a pretty magical treatment nonetheless; the second is that I have a family who is supportive and proud of the weird stuff I do, and good friends who support me, too.
I didn’t know what to expect of my Toronto book launch. Should I bring five books or fifty? Who’s going to show up? Will they bring their friends? Am I gonna cry again? Does anybody care about what I write? What if it rains? What if it snows? What if I read too much or not enough? What if nobody shows up? Blah blah blah. (Sidenote: I have been to readings and workshops where nobody showed up. None of them were disastrous; we read our stories to each other anyway and we left feeling satisfied and grateful.)
I brought as many books as I could (almost-)comfortably carry. It was a clear, chilly, beautiful day, and snow didn’t fall until after the reading. Plenty of people showed up: friends, friends of friends, faces both familiar and new-to-me. I signed fucking autographs (with sweet notes because that’s what I like to do), listened to amazing, wondrous, heartbreaking stories, and had conversations that were sweet, sad, cute, inspiring, and silly. I almost cried but kept it in (but I think that crying in public, and/or crying in front of people can be good, healthy, and not-embarrassing). My mom showed up with flowers.
I didn’t know my mom was coming to my book launch, but there she was with her grey-purple-pink hair, black leather jacket, and a bouquet of a dozen white roses. I suppose it could have been awkward and embarrassing, but if radical honesty and weirdo pride are what I do, my family might as well know. They might as well hear my words. Also, it is a privilege to be able to read out loud my own words about mental health, depression, and genderqueer identities and experiences; a lot of people aren’t able to tell their parents or other family members about that kind of stuff; for so many people, to do so would be risky and unsafe. As a genderqueer and crazy person who also has a good relationship with their family and can share their creative work with them, I am a rare creature.
(Background: I was in a lotta trouble when I was a kid, arrested a few times, I left school when I was fourteen and never returned, I was a weirdo and a fuck-up, and although my family was always encouraging of my writing & creativity, they probably vacillated between thinking I was gonna grow up to be a Famous Writer or thinking I was gonna grow up to become a Serial Killer – so they are probably both surprised & unsurprised that I have in fact found a way to Do What I Want With My Life (-ish) without taking the conventional route of going to school and getting a real job and all that boring stuff that I intend to avoid forever and ever.)
The book launch was dreamy (because I actively try to create/experience dreamy moments in each of my days, to talk to my friends & listen to them, to find all sorts of good things in the bad things, and not because things just work out well all the time and everything is peachy keen – I mean, I was also nervous and overwhelmed and people misgendered me at my own event, I just don’t feel like writing about it right now). Me, Sarah Mangle, Clara Bee Lavery, and Dave Cave read in what I call Mix Tape Order, where we read whatever/whenever we feel like it, instead of having openers and headliners because that kind of makes me uncomfortable.
I still struggle with so many aspects of my writing, and I know that I always will. There are times when I know that my words are valuable, and that I am accomplishing my goal of not only surviving, but encouraging other weirdos to tell their own stories, and to know that there are other ways to live than the ways we are taught. There are also times when I am unsure about my writing, don’t know who I’m writing for or why. But I keep on writing anyway.
I Missed the Toronto Book Launch / Where Else Can I Get Your Book?
P.S.: If you’ve benefited from my writing in any way – if my words have inspired you, helped you feel less alone, or sparked some weird feeling within you; if you’ve felt encouraged, or curious, or comforted – please consider compensating me by offering a donation of any amount. Whether you’ve been reading my writing for years, or just stumbled into me this afternoon, I invite you to help me sustain the process!