Ohayo gozaimasu from Japan! My Los Angeles reading from Megume and the Trees is just four days away (or three, if you happen to be sitting in Tokyo right now). Lambda Literary has really shaped this into what I think is going to be an amazing, fun event. First off, the West Hollywood Library is usually closed on Sundays, but they’re opening just for us. And with so many writers reading (Marshall Thornton, Mark Thompson, Jessica Faraday, Felice Picano, Shannon Cain, Christina Hutchins, Ghalib Shiraz Dhalla, Barbara Browning, Nina Revoyr, Lázaro Lima, and me, to be precise) it’s going to be our own little LGBT book festival! So if you’re anywhere in the Los Angeles area, come on out and hear selections from many of the past year’s LGBT books: May 20th, 5:00 PM, WeHo Library (click this link for the event’s official Facebook page).
There are also a couple of really lovely new reviews of Megume out, in CherryGrrl and Lesbians of North London (oh, London, I want to visit you, too…). I thought I was going to be one of those artists who doesn’t read reviews of her work, and I’m utterly terrified whenever I do an interview or know a review is coming, but I’ve found that I really appreciate the experience, and I really appreciate someone else sharing their experience of my book with the world. I might have to read it through my fingers, but I’m never disappointed to know that Megume is out there in the world and other people are interacting with her story. That’s my job: not just to write stories, but to get them to their audience. Otherwise, why bother writing them down? I don’t want to be like Emily Dickinson and die with a chest full of thousands of unread words, even though I understand how a lot of fear and a little criticism can easily make that happen. I’m a working artist, I’m definitely familiar with fear and criticism! But I think you have to do what your heart says anyway.
I was just downstairs in a Japanese convenience store and they were playing the Selena Gomez song “Who Says” – I love songs like that, especially sung by young women, who are so frequently told what they cannot do and who they cannot be. I’m not sure whether there’s ever a point in life where other people stop telling you what you cannot do and who you cannot be, so I think you just have to learn that you know best for yourself and your passion. Even though I did my best to stay away from them, there were still people who told me I shouldn’t be out as a writer, and that I shouldn’t come out until I was successful and then I shouldn’t “make a big deal of it.” And there were people who told me that starting my own publishing company would be a mistake, and that, without the seal of approval of giving away my copyright to a major publisher (literally giving it away – that’s what major deals are, no matter how glamorous they’re made to seem), Megume would be a colossal failure and I would live to regret “fucking up” my career. To which, from this point, I can only respond: readers, reviews, magazine spreads, shortlisted for a Lambda Literary Award. And we’ve only just begun! Those people weren’t giving me, my book, or the rest of the world enough credit (and they’d never read Megume, nor been asked for their opinion, so I don’t think their motives were ever well-intentioned and they certainly weren’t well-informed). It breaks my heart to hear about writers, even very successful ones, who have multiple unpublished manuscripts. Now, maybe those just genuinely weren’t there yet, and writers have to be the judge of when their work is “right” (I certainly have my chest full of thousands upon thousands of unread words, in spite of my intention to not let that be my legacy). But maybe those are very important stories that someone really needs, and they’re not getting the chance to read them because someone else deemed them unworthy. Doesn’t that just suck? (This whole paragraph started off as a little comment in parentheses – I frequently include important points as parenthetical remarks.) So thank you to Christina, Lucy, Rosanna, Elizabeth, everyone at their publications, Lambda Literary, and everybody else who has helped get Megume into the world. I am eternally grateful.
I also saw this release from the Denver Public Library (thank you, Google Alerts) that they have Megume and the Trees and many of this year’s other Lambda finalists in circulation. I believe the San Francisco Public Library has Megume, too, and school libraries have begun ordering it. Does your library have Megume and the Trees? Check it out – literally! And, if they don’t yet have Megume, I would be forever grateful to you for suggesting it as a purchase to them so that you and others in your community can find and read her story.
I’ve been tweeting from Japan: @SarahHasu (see the left side column), and I’ll try to post some photos, too.
Domo arigato gozaimasu!