As an author and storyteller, I like to think in archetypes. And nowhere are visual icons more evident than in New York City. I’ve come to think of these two most iconic of all buildings—the Empire State and the Chrysler—as the god and goddess of the architectural landscape.
This past week in the City everything did seem larger than life. Nothing is more full of dreams writ large than the Jacob Javits Center during Book Expo America. Posters are ten times their normal size, hung in the hangar-like structure as though being pulled by planes swooping low enough to be read. Booths are the size of houses. Lines of waiting people—whether for a favorite author, or for a cup o’ joe from Starbucks—wind their way across vast stretches of real estate. Maybe this imaginative side could be called the right brain side of the endeavor—a side some align with the feminine.
But while these iconic expressions of success are played out on the annual publishing stage, serious business is being discussed. Perhaps this practical side could be called the left brain—sometimes aligned with the male aspect. How intriguing it was this year to be part of the conversations in my new publisher’s booth! I knew I admired these folks. I’ve known that for a while. But to see them in action was impressive. First, they’re great listeners. You can see the lights in their eyes, the focus in their expressions. Second, they’re great networkers. Pens fly across the pages of notebooks, tracking possibilities, forging connections. This “internal” aspect of the publishing world opened to me as a series of steps and plans, practicalities that construct bridges between authors and readers, creating satisfaction for both.
And then there were the signings. I barely arrived at my aisle in the Autographing Hall before it began to fill up with readers—some already followers, many new. If you were t here, I want to thank each and every one of you who stood there waiting for a signed Advance Reader’s Copy of What the Heart Knows, and tell you how delighted I was to meet you!
When I first started working on my novels, I thought I was writing Fiction. Gradually I began to realize I’m writing Women’s Fiction. I had to discover . . . what is Women’s Fiction? Is there Men’s Fiction? I began to invite other authors to discuss the differences on panels at book festivals, and we came up with some intriguing distinctions. This ongoing discussion is so rich, a continuing discovery about how men and women process the world around us, and why, by turns, we’re attracted to both sides of the fiction spectrum.
My last day in the City started before dawn. Still humming with a sense of fulfillment and the thrill of a whole new realm of possibilities, I pulled my bag to the curb to flag a cab. As we headed over the Triborough Bridge for the LaGuardia airport, I looked back to see the spires of my favorite buildings hovering above a low fog. And then I saw something I’d never seen before. Because the Empire State Building is so much taller than the Chrysler Building, it always appears to tower over its counterpart. But this time, as though a rebalancing had occurred, the Chrysler loomed larger, as though perhaps the time for goddesses had arrived, or at least, for an author of Women’s Fiction.
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