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CAPPA Conference, The Author's Life

Saturday, October 02, 2004
Last night, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Childbirth and Postpartum Professionals (CAPPA) Canada conference. Imagine being in a room filled with people who are totally passionate about pregnancy, birth, babies, and parenthood. Well, let me tell you: this was the place. We were even in a womb-like setting -- the council chambers at Toronto's Metro Hall. (It's a rounded dome which, if you happen to have birth on the brain, kind of looks like the inside of a uterus!) The organizers started out with this amazing audio/visual montage of birth clips which just about brought me to tears before I had to give my presentation. (I had to do my labour breathing to hold it all together.)

I gave a presentation entitled "Baby Boot Camp: Helping Parents Prepare for the Babymoon and the Early Weeks Postpartum." The group was extremely enthusiastic and I had the opportunity to chat with a lot of childbirth educators, doulas, and others who have read my books and who have had the opportunity to recommend them to their clients. It was a wonderful, inspiring evening that left me more convinced than ever that I am doing the work that I was put on the planet to do.

Prior to the CAPPA conference, I had the pleasure of meeting my editor and the director of sales and marketing from Wiley Canada for high tea at the Windsor Arms Hotel. I have been working with these two women since The Mother of All Books series was born and I respect the two of them more than mere words can say. They aren't merely brilliant at their jobs and passionate about what they do. They also positively ooze integrity, kindness, and all the other immeasurable things that don't show up on royalty statements, but that can ultimately make or break the success of publishing relationships. It's great to have them on "The Mother of All Teams"! (Gosh, I'm in a sappy mood. I wonder if the Blogger people have a sap filter that cleans up posts like this. Or will they simply quietly transfer my account over to Sapster?)

A note in my defence, lest you think I'm euphorically happy about the writing life each and every day of my life and/or high on caffeine: not every day is like this.

As much as I love the writing life, there are many, many days when I, like many of my other author buddies, am tempted to list my laptop at eBay and switch to a low-stress profession -- e.g., air-traffic controller or heart surgeon.

So what kinds of things drive us authors to distraction?

Well, for one thing, there are those days when you show up to do an author event in a bookstore and no one in the store knows that you are coming, and consequently the staff have to scramble to try to find the handful of misshelved copies of your books. That's when the book event domino effect kicks in. If the staff didn't know you were coming, odds are their customers don't know that you're coming, and the event can only go downhill from there. At this point, you have a choice:

  • (A) go into miffed author mode and throw The Mother of All Hissy Fits

  • (B) Make the most of a very annoying situation.

I generally opt for plan B. This involves nursing your slightly wounded ego while simultaneously helping customers to find books that they're really after (e.g., any book but your own!), directing them to the washroom, listening to them tell you about their grandchildren and/or their hobbies, and so on.

I've yet to have an event that turned out to be a total flop because I am always determined to find a way to make some good come out of even the Author Event from Hell, even if that simply means ensuring that the staff in the store know a little bit more about me and my books than they did when I first arrived on the premises; that I make friendly small talk with the customers who happen to walk past my table of books; and/or that I learn something from the experience (even if it's just what NOT to do an event of that type the next time around). Hey, life's too short to have meltdowns over the small stuff, even if it would feel so good to act like a toddler right then and there. Or at least that's what I tell myself....

| posted by Ann D @ 3:01 PM