Its been an entire month (almost exactly), since I ended my book tour. It has taken a month to settle into the magic that what was, while simultaneously settling back into life post-tour. Truth be told, while some of it was hard and exhausting, I miss it. For such a long time, I was working on this “bigger than me” project. A project that sustained me emotionally and creatively. So much so, this month off of tour has been about learning about the me that exists between these spaces. That’s why Sarah’s essay yesterday was so important. She articulated what so many of us face, no matter if we wrote the book, published the book, or simple need a rest.
Here are 7 things I learned while on tour with a few photos from my very last reading, at The Wing, DUMBO, in conversation with Anthonia Akitunde of Mater Mea.
- Being strategic never fails. Early on when I was planning, I was a bit down about not being able to take on every speaking engagement and book signing. But I quickly realized during the tour, the set up I had was best for my life and my own pace. You can’t do everything and go everywhere, and it was really smart to focus where I knew I would be hosted and in at a pace that allowed me to go back to be with kids (and bring them). I also hired a marketing assistant ( I did not have outside PR help, 95% of all the stops, conversations, and partners was all me, with the genoristy and friendships of many).
- It’s about the people. While the book selling makes me happy, tours are to actually meet the people, talk with them, and if a sale comes after that (by social or spreading the word), that is amazing! But my personal goal was mostly meeting people who have supported me and my work.
- Trust your gut. Sounds silly, but it is all about the gut. You know how things will flow and how people will be, once you truly listen to what’s happening inside of you, you can also be of service to what’s going outside of you.
- Sleep, eat, love, forget the rest. I came home to a stack of mail that needed sorting. I am still sorting. I decided very last minute, that I couldn’t leave the country again this summer, too. I just needed to get back to basics and repair. Sometimes, we want to do so much, but the want is blocking us from what’s really at hand.
- Finding a way, any way, to speak to your own values and ethics. This is so important. For me, that meant wearing mostly black and woc designers during the tour. It also meant, having indie booksellers sell all the books at the events, and leaving signed copies at other stores when I could.
- You can never celebrate too much. Inviting friends, having small parties, and honestly, truly, taking moments to celebrate when I could was what also sustained me. It helped me realize that black women need spaces to celebrate. The normal me pushes past everything and keeps going. But what happens when you create oppurtunities for others to celebrate with you? You share a moment to celebrate their accomplishments as well. The conversations that were had, the hugs that took place, the stories and all the work that many of you do daily on small and grand scales, it was an honor to share that with you.
- It’s never really about you. Or Me. My book was intimate, and though I wrote it the way I wanted to, I realized that during tour, it was never about me. It was about my kids. It was about other kids, it was about young women and older women. It was about sharing stories and giving others courage to not only share theirs, but to celebrate theirs. I think, the biggest mistake people are making right now happen to be efforts that are guised as taking large leaps for the community, culture and people, but closing the door behind them. And then there are others, who are self-involved and also, honestly, never acknowledge the inequality within oppurtunities and communities and often use success as markers for their own self. Anyone who truly is woven into the work of a book, activisim, art and the community knows this. And it was so important to learn and re-learn this on this tour. I am thankful for all of the lessons that happened and all of the ones that I have yet to learn.
“Acknowledging my grief and sorrow is all a part of life, but I choose to access joy every single day. It doesn’t mean that things aren’t hard. It doesn’t mean you don’t acknowledge that stuff, it doesn’t mean the things in the past didn’t happen to me… But what it means is that every day to acknowledge and access joy is part of my resistance and part of my life, and to give that to my children is part of my resistance and part of my life and a larger part of my work.”
If you have yet to purchase Woman Of Color, you can anywhere books are sold in the U.S. Recently, I found out it was in Bermuda, Sweden, Canada, London and Germany, and it is also available via Amazon UK, which ships to many places outside of the United States. And if you purchased off of Amazon, please leave a review, it really helps.
P.S You can search for it at any of your local bookstores via indiebound. Or order it at your local librabry. The oppurtunies to read it for yourself are endless!
(Photos by Shelly Kroeger for The Wing)