How do you say thank you when your heart is exploding with gratitude? It calls for a truckload of admiration and love. And so, to everyone who has helped me throughout this Women Float book launch and throughout my creative and artistic career, this truck's for you. Specifically, I give you this truck of zinnias that I helped pick from the fields at Fairview Gardens to show my deepest appreciation for your comments, kind reviews and help.
To summarize the Women Float Book Launch Party for those who couldn't attend, here are the results: we sold out of books, I got some great local press coverage and I've had about four lovely online blog book reviews. Both pre-orders and the book launch sales broke preview records for the publisher, CCLaP, and about 50 people showed up to buy books on June 7 and to hear me read. (To read the reviews and articles, check out the bottom of the Women Float page on my website, here.)
Wow. This is more than I ever imagined. I am truly in awe of the kindness that has flowed towards me. In some sense, however, working and living on a farm prepares you for abundance, in all its forms, like the compliments and kind words I've received lately around my book. The key is not to assume that abundance will arrive, but to know how to manage the explosion of nature's bounty if and when it shows up. Like a tree full of apricots or a field of strawberries or zinnias all blooming at once, there can be too much, too soon, all at once. What to do? Make jam. Turn the farm into a u-pick stand.
Or, in the case of the zinnias shown in the truck above, recruit anyone with two free hands to pick like crazy. The day before the huge Santa Monica farmers market one day before Thanksgiving, two of Fairview's main field hands called in sick. This was a near disaster. The head farmer, Julie, knew that she could sell anything she brought to that market, but without people to pick the zinnias, she was out of luck. That's when I got the call to abandon the office yurt where I was designing a new farm program curriculum for local elementary kids and take to the fields. So, off I went, with Julie and two other female volunteers. We bunched all the zinnias seen above and finished by noon. The feeling of cutting and gathering the vibrant colors, on a hot California fall day, was one of perfect delight at doing work that didn't feel like work.
In the moment of cutting those gorgeous zinnia stems and chatting playfully with a group of interesting and new women, I felt raw delight. We were surrounded by our bounty, and, at the end, that felt completely normal and totally astounding. That's how I feel now, engulfed by this unexpected full-body embrace of generosity from longtime friends, family and even total strangers. I am trying to channel that day at the farm and remember that it is both perfectly average and delightfully momentous to be the bearer of so much that is good, beautiful and alive. So, again, thank you and here's to the possibility that we all deserve and can receive generosity.
Does anyone remember the Richard Scarry children's books about various animals engaged in everyday misadventures, like a cat flying a kite that gets caught in a tree or a fox as a carpenter banging his foot? With characters like Lowly the Worm and Huckle Cat? (See the above YouTube video for an animated version of his stories.) Well, I've been thinking of these bizarre remnants from my childhood all week for two reasons.
First of all, the characters in these brilliant books all drive cars that echo either their personality, job or both. For example, Lowly the Worm drives an apple-helicopter and the monkey drives a giant banana-shaped car. I loved this as a kid. It made so much sense to me and these whimsical automobiles were so much inspiring than the typical vehicles I rode around in.
So, after more than 30 years of dreaming of my own car that mirrors my true persona, I now have my own mermaid-car. Well, sort of. I don't drive a long, voluptuous, half-naked fish woman with flowing locks (yet), but I made my first step in that direction by sticking on a car magnet with the cover of my new novella, Women Float, on the side of my very pedestrian ride. Now, stuck in traffic, I imagine people looking at me and wondering about the book and how to get their hands on one and how cool I must look with a book car magnet on my door.
The second reason I keep thinking of Richard Scarry is because of my daughter. She loves the image on the side of my car and she toddles over to it and points at it repeatedly, a high compliment for her. I also had an 8-year-old girl from the afterschool group I lead at the farm admire it. Mermaids are making me big with the pre-pre-pre teen crowd. Are there any marketing stats on this group? I'd call them neener-tweeners and let me tell you: mermaids are huge.
Is it the mythic fish-lady or Richard Scarry that is appealing to my daughter? See, just she started reading her first Richard Scarry book. A friend got it for us at a Carpinteria Friends of the Library Used Book Sale. I understood why the board book was on sale as soon as we got home. Each of the 10 pages included a jigsaw puzzle embedded in the page, all of which fell out and were lost as soon as we got home. No problem. My daughter doesn't worry about something trivial like losing puzzle pieces. She's still got pictures of Huckle Cat riding Lowly around on his bike and then watching him buzz off on his applecopter. And she now gets to admire Sargeant Murphy pulling over the monkey, Bananas, in his banana car.
I can't confirm this, yet, because she's not really talking but I think my daughter has re-named me with my own Richard Scarry-esque persona name, now that my car has a makeover. I think I'm now Wawamama. (That's Watermother to you.) I'll let you know for sure in a few months when I can discuss all this, and more, with my little reader.
In the mean time, thanks to everyone for their cheers of support for Women Float. Jason, my publisher at CCLaP, told me to tell everyone who pre-ordered that books should start arriving this week. The book is now officially for sale here and I look forward to the book launch, this Friday, in Carpinteria. Come see me so I can sign your book and we can discuss why so many of the Richard Scarry characters wear lederhosen.
Milk & Honey
A Blog on Creativity
All content and images copyright Maureen Claffey