Better than dreaming: launching Juliet

before3
party venue, yesterday afternoon, pre-cleaning

before2
party venue, one hour later

Let me tell you about the party. Ah, the party. The party!

All of my dreams last night were an extension of the party. It was like I got to drift through its pieces again as I slept, moving around the room, standing on stage, hearing the song being played to a still room filled with people. What I’d hoped for was to create a moment we could all share.

Good grief. I was so nervous before it was time to read. So nervous my teeth were chattering. Every clump of people I greeted, I blurted out “I’m so nervous! Gah!” or some variation on the theme. I was grateful for the distraction of laughter and silliness. And then it was showtime. My publicist introduced my editor who introduced me. My editor’s words had a weirdly calming effect. I stopped shaking. I could feel myself preparing — and prepared.

Stepping on stage. I was surprised by the lights. I couldn’t see anybody. I could hear and sense and feel, but not see. I felt so happy to be there. There is no other way to express it. Pure joy. As I read the words, I felt as though I was also standing apart, observing, watching, savouring. I thought about the years of work. But I also thought about how it had seemed this occasion might never happen, how I’d fallen down and gotten back up again, considered giving up, but been somehow unable to. I thought about the friends who believed in me — many of whom were there last night. I thought about how lucky I was to be reading these words out loud, to a room full of people who had come just to hear them. Actually I can’t even express my feeling of great fortune.

On stage, I felt like I was doing my job. That sounds pedestrian. It’s not. I felt like I was doing the job I was meant to do. My job is to bring everyone along to a different place, in their imaginations, all of us together. A writer standing on stage and reading is asking of her audience a huge favour: have faith in my words, take a leap with me, come along.

That’s what I wanted. And it felt like that’s what happened. Thank you, generous room of listeners.

Afterward, signing books, only occasionally forgetting a name, I kept wondering at how effortless it felt. I mean — everything. The nerves beforehand were as they always are. It’s been a long time, but I used to act in high school and university. I’d feel the same way. Eaten up with anxiety, just get me on stage, please. There is something magical about being on stage. I feel so free. Free to be myself, or some comfortable projection of myself. I can hardly remember anything from the hour or so before reading, though everything was perfect, the room was insanely beautiful (thanks to the incredible efforts of my party planning committee — Zoe, Rachel, and Nathalie), so many people kept arriving, drinks were offered and many well wishes, yet it was a total blur.

But time on stage was so different — it seemed to stretch and expand. I could relax into the moment, drink it all in. I can’t explain it. I guess that’s what I mean when I say it felt like I was doing my job. The very definition of work/play.

When I came off-stage, I was greeted by an absolutely bursting AppleApple, whom we’d let come along. The pride in her face — I wish I could have stopped time and drunk it in. And then it was on to book signing. The bookseller (Words Worth Books) sold out — every last Juliet. The party planning committee seamlessly took down our event’s decorations and packed up, and at 10pm the club opened the doors and their DJs started spinning, and those of us who felt like dancing stayed and danced until finally the place was completely changed. From intimate candlelit book launch to grinding club floor. And then it was time to go home.

“You throw a good party!” someone shouted to me on the dance floor. And it felt like, yeah, this was a good party. Listen, I will happily throw a party like this, say, once a year, if you’re willing to come. As far as readings go, it will be hard to top. I ended the reading by playing the song, the lullaby I wrote for my character Gloria, who is a musician and performer herself. I didn’t say it was me singing; I introduced it as Gloria’s song. One of the most thrilling parts of the evening was hearing from so many people that they LOVED the song and could not believe it was me — and where could they get a copy? I don’t have an answer to that yet, though the song is embedded in the ebook, within the story to which it belongs. Frankly, I’d like to record more Juliet songs and put together a little EP and make that available in conjunction with the book. But that’s still a dream.

Last night. Last night wasn’t a dream. But it felt like one. I couldn’t have imagined a better celebration for the book, the perfect punctuation mark for all those years of work.

:::

I didn’t take my camera along. But my friend Nancy was snapping photos all evening, and she promises to send me the best and I promise to post them here for you.

Prepping for a party
Inside the party: a Nancy's-eye view

13 Comments

  1. Carrie this post made me tear up! I’m so glad I got to be a part of it. Enjoy it all!

    Reply
  2. So thrilled for you!

    Regarding the song, have you talked with your publisher about having it available to buy on iTunes? Or something along those lines?

    And yes, the stage! I understand what you mean about work/play. I used to dread doing readings, but now, I love it. I’m still no good at the banter (and with poetry there is too much space for banter), but the actual reading of the work? Love it!

    I hope I have an opportunity to see/hear you read in person. I hope Juliet brings you out West.

    Again, so very happy for you!

    Reply
  3. You done good! Being able to claim this as your job I think is the height of fulfillment – You’ve found your story in creating stories for the rest of us. Good on you!

    Reply
  4. Congratulations Carrie! It was such a great night and I am so glad that I got to be a part of it. I only wish I felt well enough to stay for the dancing! I can’t wait until the next book and reading.

    Reply
  5. congratulations, carrie!
    i really appreciated reading your thoughts and impressions of the evening. i’d say the party was a smashing success!
    best wishes as you continue with your writing!

    Reply
  6. Cathy, so glad you decided to come to the launch! I see you’ve posted about it on your own blog — thank you so much. I hope you will choose The Juliet Stories as book-to-be-read this year. 🙂

    Reply
  7. Tricia, we had a blast dancing. We could have used your elbows as the night went on — and we were gradually moved out of prime dancing real estate. That place got packed out past midnight. And Kev and I headed home after that … I was still floating on air.

    So glad you could come, even with all the sickness at your house and being on your own for half the week! You’re an awesome friend.

    Reply
  8. Thanks for bringing people out, Chuck. I heard from several people (whom I’d never met before) that they’d read the article and decided to come to the launch. Wonderful!

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  9. Marita, I like the iTunes idea. I think it’s a good one. I think there may be a fee involved, so I will need to do more research on that.

    And I’ve been thinking that maybe we both view readings in a theatrical sense, maybe that’s why we enjoy them so much. A reading is (or can be) like a little drama being performed, I think.

    Reply
  10. Sarah, so glad you were able to come! Wishing you a wonderful first day at your new job today. Hope you enjoy the book!

    Reply
  11. You were great!

    Karl

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  12. Wait–do you have a new blog, Karl??

    Reply
  13. Yes and no. No. Yes. Kind of. When I commented I was accidentally already signed in with a user name for something else I’m doing. We’ll talk more sometime…meanwhile, back to good ol’ UUU…

    Reply

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