Tina Parker

Book Tour Takeaways

Date of Post: 
Tuesday, April 26, 2016

I am one month into my homegrown book tour and ready to share my top three reflections:

1. Art opens the door to honest conversation. Here are just a few of the questions that have come up:

What is it you love to do?

How do you make it a priority?

What happens if people you love have a problem with it, or even reject you?

If people see my writing as essential to who I am, as the thing that keeps me grounded, would there ever be a reason to question it? Over the years, I have feared someone close to me would question my intentions, my truth. I have fought that fear by writing into it—by writing the poems I’m most afraid of. This past month, I’ve shared those poems with an audience, my family included, and nothing horrible has happened. Well, okay, I only shared the less scandalous of the two books with my parents, but it’s a start.

As stated in an essay on Literary Mama,“. . . in other words, in addition to raising our children, loving them and supporting them in all they can be, we must find a way to be all that we can be—to get our writing done along the way.”

 

2. Introverts can masquerade as extroverts

I often tell our daughters to use their strong voice when they speak. I’ve had to practice and practice to read my poems in such a way and not sound like I’m shaking in my shoes. For me, the key is preparation; I have to get used to hearing my own voice, and I have to rehearse the full she-bang, from poems to little commentaries. I also push through my fear by thinking about my reader/audience, instead of about me. After all, it’s really all about reaching a reader who can take hold of my experience and get something from it. And last ya’ll, I just gotta say whoever shows up for poetry deserves the best that I got. I have to try hard not to make us all feel awkward and miserable.

 

3. It’s okay to invite yourself to the party. And then invite everyone you know.

My press has been a fab partner in landing my out-of-state gigs. For my in-state events, I scouted out venues and invited myself. Sure, this makes me feel rather brazen, but it also makes me super-conscientous. I am sure to follow up and do my very best so as not to screw up the opportunity. I help market, set up, whatever is needed. I remember my manners and send thank you notes. I haven’t yet felt like an imposter, though I was sure I would.

Once we have a party, I set about inviting others. I invite poets to pair up with me for joint readings. We combine our voices and our audiences. I invite friends, old and new, including people I haven’t seen in 20 years. I don’t worry about offending them, or what they might think of me (well I might for a moment, but I push through it). As a result, I’ve been able to reconnect with people who have long supported me and my writing. Lucky for me, the book tour is just one month in---this party is just getting started!