Apr 14 Written by 

If You Don't Come to My Reading, I Won't Come To Yours, Etc.

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I sometimes do not feel up to attending a literary reading, and if I am not up for it I can't enjoy the event. If there were a live feed I would tune in. But I can't be there because of work, tiredness, weather, a second round-trip commute to the city when I was just there that morning, previous commitments, and so on. But what I never do is "boycott" a reading because the readers "didn't come to my reading, so I won't go to theirs." Being there is certainly a show of support for the readers and for the literary community. But not being there is not declaring non-support. I have no right to expect specific people and get bent out of shape if they aren't there, even if they promised to be. Even if I have a new book out and they should buy it. Even if they are friends of long standing. That I have the privilege of reading, and that anybody at all is there, should be experienced as an honor. And if the crowd is small -- well, am I there to nourish my ego, or to nourish the audience? I am there by grace and should be gracious as possible, and my focus should be on literature, not me.

A few "take attendance" at their readings, and micromanage their own attendance as if it were a game. Sure, a reading is a social event, and I like to see a crowd and familiar faces, and to chat and gab and catch up, and I know about give and take. But to hear that someone is "hurt" because so-and-so did not show up, or that he or she deliberately avoids events or book-buying until the score is evened -- well, that's a Christmas-card attitude. Either you send holiday cards because you like people and want to send good wishes for their holidays -- or you send cards to see if you'll get one in return, and if not, that's instant Memory Hole. At that point it's not about love anymore.
Catherine Rankovic

Writer, with 30+ years' writing and publishing experience, 20+ years' teaching experience. Last book read: Mrs. Lincoln by Catherine Clinton.