This past Sunday was Word on the Street in Toronto, and I was there for the first time as an author, and for the first time at all in a very long while. The last time I went, the festival still took place on Queen Street, turning a segment of a major downtown road into a literary pedestrian mall. At the time, I also thought I wanted to be a journalist and that if I was going to write fiction, it would be cyberpunk. A lot has changed.
I don’t know all the circumstances (or, as one friend who visited me discovered, really any of the circumstances) that led to Word on the Street moving not once but (at least) twice, but to me the new location (sort of new – this was the second year on the site) at Harbourfront is pretty great. There’s lots of interesting spaces to wander around while meeting authors and sampling books from publishers large and small, and plenty of book-related events went on throughout the day. If it was a little brisk in the shade with the wind off the lake, it seemed a lovely day to walk in the sunshine and immerse oneself in books.
We were busy at the Renaissance Press table through much of the day, and it was great fun (as it always is) to have people come up and talk about our books and their own writing and things we both like to read. Some people took my book home with them and that is always a wonderful feeling. Some people picked it up, read the back, and put it back down again – I haven’t quite immunized myself to the little pang of rejection when they decide my story isn’t for them, or the desire to ask ‘WHY DON’T YOU LOVE IT’ like a crazy person. Of course that’s unfair, but I guess it shows something of how much of ourselves we pour into our creations, as artists. The King in Darkness, whatever strengths and flaws it has as a story, does have a little fragment of my soul in there. I doubt that having created it will keep me alive for all eternity, and there’s a little bit of vulnerability in putting yourself out before the public eye in such a way, but I don’t know another way to write. I imagine a lot of artists feel the same.
That got heavy.
In all seriousness it was a great day of meeting new people and seeing some old friends and playing the part of a Writer for a little while again, that I wrote about after Can*Con. So that was good. In some ways though that wasn’t the best part. Also that weekend, I ran into Hayden Trenholm from Bundoran Press on our way down to the big city, and we had as nice a chat as it is possible to have in a 401 rest stop. Maaja Wentz stopped by the booth to say hello. Peter Halasz of the Sunburst Awards and font of SFF knowledge came by and very nearly stole my sandwich. All of these people, and (to my great wonderment) an increasing number of others are genuinely interested in my writing (well, writing in general) and encouraging and supportive about the whole process of creation and dissemination of the written word. It is wonderful to be gradually becoming part of a network of amazingly talented individuals who really get why I feel like I have to write, want other writers to do well, and to help if they can. I hope I’m able to give a little of that back, and very glad to have these chances to be surrounded by these very supportive people.
Even if they do have designs on my sandwich.
Anyway, that’s not a feeling I had really had before this Word on the Street, so for that reason alone I’m very glad I made the trip down. If I can, I’ll be back next year, possibly more warmly dressed.
Thanks for reading.