I have decided to take my writing career to its next logical level. After much pondering and consideration- I feel this to be an important and decisive move in the right direction. Over the years I have noticed that most successful authors have “Meet The Author” events where fans turn out to meet the author in person and possibly have the good fortune to shake a hand and/or get a book signed. Since I lack a published book, an agent and a large fan base- I have decided to launch a grass roots effort to get my name and writings out into the world. I live close to a university, so there are a lot of undergraduate and graduate students who walk past my home everyday. I often sit at my window envying their youth and purpose. I figured I have nothing to lose by setting up my coffee table in my driveway, putting out some copies of various short stories I have written, some information about my literary blog and a sign that reads “Meet The Author.” I have always believed in self-reliance. If you build it- they will come.
Yesterday was my first day sitting in the driveway- behind a “Meet The Author” sign. I wore my black suit with a black t-shirt and black converse shoes. I don’t have glasses but I realize that this prop may allow me to look more literary (so I may go to Target and buy some cheap reading glasses later today). There was little wind yesterday and the clouds abstained from covering the sun that hung diligently in the sky. I sat behind my coffee table in a fold up chair that had been rusting away in my garage. I made sure that I was outside by 8 a.m so as to catch the morning rush. Hundreds of students passed me by, many curious about what I was doing, but none stopping to meet me in person. At around eleven a.m I came in for lunch.
I spent the rest of the afternoon outside. I did not read because I wanted to look welcoming and available to whomever wanted to meet me. Instead, I watched the birds hop from tree to tree and the squirrels hobble across the sprouting grass. I watched feral cats walk around in the suburban park that sits across the street from my house. All these perplexed creatures seemed to look at me with the same curiosity of the students. “What the hell is he doing?” they wondered as they tried to make sense of a man dressed in a black suit spending his day sitting in a driveway. I noticed the way the animals looked at me was different from the glances of humans. There was something considerate and compassionate in the animal stares. It was as if they were not only confused but also taking pity on an author that no one seemed to want to meet.
When my wife returned home from work at around three I had to move the coffee table so that she could get her car into the garage. After I explained to her what I was doing all she could do was laugh, turn around and walk inside. I heard her shout “what time do you want to eat dinner!” but I did not respond since I was in the middle of an important event. I placed the coffee table back in its original spot and continued to sit and wait. The light of day was slowly fading so that I could no longer see clearly the various animals in the park. The trees started to become vague outlines of themselves. Hundreds of students again passed me on their way back to where they had come from. Back to a life of studying, possibilities, ambitions, opportunities and microwaved dinners. Several students looked at me but again, no one stopped to meet the author. I was feeling a bit disillusioned and could swear I heard a female voice yell from a distance what sounded like the word “fool.”
Then, as night was almost finished coloring everything in with black and gray crayons- a medium-sized Asian man made his way up to my coffee table. He looked like he might be a graduate student since he was wearing glasses and had a few books under his arm. I was getting ready to pack everything up when he said to me in a kind of broken English “You are the author?” I turned towards him and for the first time that day I said, “Yes, I am.” “I love America Writers….you guys so funny and sad, kinda tragic,” he said. I thought of Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Faulkner. “My name is Randall Sokoloff and these are some things I have written,” I said pointing to the copies of my short stories on the table. He looked at them like he was investigating cellular activity through a microscope. Then he looked up at me and repeating one of the titles of my short stories, “The Man Who Swallowed His Wedding Ring, that is so silly,” and then he laughed and I laughed with him. “I take this one,” he said and I told him that he was welcome to take more than one. “Give some stories to your friends and tell them that they can come meet me in person this week!” Then he asked me the question that I had been waiting for all day, “would you mine signing story for me?” which I did with a hint of pride that I had not felt in a long time. We shook hands and he walked away with my short stories under hims arm. I immediately turned my head to see if my wife was looking out the window and had witnessed my victory. She was not there but my cat, who sat on the window ledge, had seen it all.
I will continue to sit out on my driveway at least until Saturday. Even if I only meet one person a day that is good enough for me. A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. My hope is that next year or by the time I turn forty-two I will actually have a novel published that I will be able to present to passers-by. For now the copied versions of my short stories and information about my blog will have to do. If you care to come and meet the author in person, I am on the corner of Oak and 14th. I will be sitting in my driveway from 8 a.m. until dark at least until Saturday. Just look for the park across the street, the animals perched in the trees, the man in an rusting folding chair wearing an all black suit and/or the sign that in large black ink says “Meet The Author.”