Sunday, July 13, 2008

July 14, 2008: Yes, Virginia, Someone’s Listening

You know that I’m always questioning if what I’m doing has any impact. In previous blog entries, I’ve mused about whether an author can ever calculate return on investment (ROI). I’ve asked, in terms of my goals as a writer, “Are we there yet?” I’ve wondered whether it would take a publishing revolution for an author to get hers.

The questions were on my mind most acutely this weekend. I was one of the authors working the Divine Literary Tour booth at Alpha Kappa Alpha’s (AKA) Centennial Boule, held here at D.C.’s Walter E. Washington Convention Center. For those who don’t know, the Divine Literary Tour is comprised of a group of Black Greek authors trying to both stretch their collective marketing and PR dollars and give each other much-needed support by touring together. Check it out here.

This weekend, with the temps hitting ninety degrees in the shade, the powers that be at D.C.’s Metro decided to single-track trains on both lines I took to the Convention Center. I arrived late, hot, and sweaty, with Jersey (my rude, grumpy, foul-mouthed altar ego, lest ye forget) ready to make an appearance that would make The Incredible Hulk look like Miss Manners. Then I found out that I was going to be sharing the booth with two other authors. And you all know how I hate when plans change. I try to be as flexible as the next sistah, but Gumby, I ain’t when I’m touring. So the heat, the single-tracking, and the last minute switch-up were fast becoming my very own perfect storm.

However, one of the authors sharing the booth, a tall, attractive woman, made room and welcomed me in the cramped space. She was an AKA, which, even though I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Delta, I didn’t hold against her. She introduced herself as Latasha G. Hines, author of I Love Him Lord, but He’s Not a Christian.

What happened next threw me. She told me that I’d inspired her. As it turns out, she is an attorney, living in Miami. About three years ago, I spoke there at a National Bar Association spa day. Hundreds of powerful black women lawyers attended the event. She was one of them. She told me that she’d followed the advice I’d given her and her colleagues, stepped out on faith, put pen to paper, and published her own book.

I cannot even begin to tell you how good it made me feel to hear that. So many times, we blog and wonder if we’re just talking to ourselves. We look at our royalty statements and wonder if anyone is reading our books. We speak to crowds at banquets and speculate whether anyone can hear us over the calls to the wait staff for rolls, butter, and/or directions to the ladies’ room. It was as if God knew that I needed those questions answered, and He sent me Latasha G. Hines.

So, I have some advice for you. No matter how hot, sweaty, and pissed off you may be, behave yourself, because you never know who you might meet. And when you express yourself, do so honestly, because yes, Virginia, someone somewhere is listening and is taking on board something you have to say…

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