Tonight is my first ever book-signing event – at Devaney Doak & Garrett in Farmington, ME (see yesterday’s blog for details). I don’t know what to expect. How many people will show up (especially since the weather is supposed to suck)? How many of those who show up will be there because they are my friends, versus people I don’t know who will come because they saw the advertisements or the piece in the Sun Journal (audience matters in a presentation – doesn’t it likewise matter for a book reading)? What reactions will I get from the selections I have chosen to read? Will I sell any books? If I do, what will I write in them?
That last question dogs me. Since I am an “author,” it would seem that my inscription in a copy of my own book ought to be . . . clever? Witty? Profound? Relevant? Memorable? Certainly it must be concise – at least at a book-signing.
What would Kerouac do?
First, he would show up at the event drunk. I will not do that. I may have a couple of beers at dinner, though (at the Dugout down the street). Just to take the edge off.
Second, he would not pre-plan what to write. He would depend on the art-form he developed and therefore would write spontaneously whatever happened to be going on “innerwards” – that was a neologism - at the very moment of signing a book.
I cannot call on that skill at will. Once in a while I can. But I cannot depend on it.
Where does this leave me with the big question: How shall I “sign” my books?
I do not want to just sign my name. That is lame. I considered a number of possibilities. “Go go go” came to mind, but that is too obscure unless you are a real Kerouac fan. The same goes for something about “IT.” I definitely want something “beat.” Something from my book. Something relevant.
As I pondered all these variables on the drive to campus this morning through the crisp fall air (Mount Blue looked like a plateau, its signature promontory obscured by clouds), it came to me.
“Dig the ride.” Kerouac said it in On The Road. So it’s beat. It’s the subject of Day 97 of The Beat Handbook. So it’s from my book. It’s about living life passionately in the now, and also a reference to go go go, the road, travel, etc. So it’s relevant.
Yes. I will write the person’s name, and then “Dig the ride!” Then my signature. But should I date it?
What would Kerouac do?
He would date it. He was compulsive about organizing everything related to his work out of concern for his legacy.
I am not anticipating a “legacy” related to my being an author. But Kerouac would date his inscription in a book, and so will I.