Whenever I had a few spare moments over the holidays, I grabbed my trusty box cutter and opened a new carton of PHOEBE and DIGGER. Mostly I signed them at the dining room table, but I also did some during “Parenthood” commercials. “Springstubb” is a long-ish name, it turns out, but the “p” and “g” punctuate it with pleasant loopiness. I wasn’t very efficient. I kept imagining every book in someone’s hands, spread across a lap, held up at story hour–and I tried to invest each signature with friendly cheer and welcome. Come on in! Have some fun with me!
It was strange to see so many of my books at once. Even at signings, I usually only see a couple dozen at the same time. But here were herds of books, flocks and swarms and packs and coveys of books, mobbing my table, brooding in my hallway. At first I feared that seeing so many of them at once would make them feel more like objects, less like mine, and that did happen, in a way. A mostly good way. Because of course once you send a book out into the world, it’s no longer yours. It belongs to the reader now, who will love it or toss it aside, make it her own or not. This is something a writer knows, but can stand to be reminded of.
Not that I didn’t still feel protective of the books. Not that each box, which I sealed up with my very professional and lethal-looking tape dispenser, didn’t get a small, farewell-and-good-luck pat from me before I set it in the done pile.
Today I got an e-mail from a reader who lives in a small village outside Munich. She is doing a report on the German version of FOX STREET and had some very thoughtful questions to ask. I have never been to Germany, but Mo and Dottie and Mercedes have. The world is so big. The world is so small. And I am daydreaming about that particular book, lying on a table beneath a window that opens out onto a deep, snow-capped forest.