As of September 19, I will have lived in Monte Vista, Colorado, for two years — two very, very happy years.
When first moved here, and began to get a feel for the San Luis Valley, I realized that, 1) young people need jobs, 2) the economy is whack, 3) the people who live here love it and fight for it, give to it, believe in it. As for me, I fell in love the first time I saw it and my feelings have deepened every day.
Today driving home from the “slough” where I walked the dogs to celebrate getting my books in a bookstore (an achievement for self-published books), I stopped for a school bus. Parents waited beside the road for their kids who came dancing and running across the street. Some handed their mom papers from school, the little ones got hugs. A dad asked the bus driver about what seemed to be a missing kid and seemed to have gotten satisfying news. I continued on my way. A bit further on, a kid was desperately trying to cross. I saw the truck coming toward me had no one behind it so I stopped. When the truck passed, the kid crossed and yelled, “Thank you, ma’am!” and waved.
One of the beauties of this place is that individuals matter. That little boy mattered to me. That I let him cross mattered to him. I missed that the whole 30 years of my exile in CA.
Monte Vista’s “rush hour” is at 4 pm during the 9 months school is in session. The cause is school busses.
A few days ago, a reader of this blog, who’s a marketing expert, said that the only successful marketing stragedy had a plan, a definition of success, and that depended on having identified a community. Made total sense to me — it was taking what I’d always taught in business communication into a three dimensional reality. A product — and my books are products — exist in the world. I want them to have a purpose, to belong somewhere. I began to think about them differently.
Until this point, success had been writing well and having a book conventionally published. When everything involving publishing reached the depth of absurdity it reached early this summer, and I began to regard self-publishing as an existential stance, that dream of success vanished. There was nothing to replace it except, “I don’t need no stinkin’ publisher.” That’s a negative thing that provided short-lived propulsion forward out and away from the hole, but it’s no long term motive. I have reached the time for a new vision of success as a writer.
I’ve thought about it a lot for the past several days and now I have it. I’d like to sell so many books that I have to hire a couple of people to help with the clerical/administrative work. I’d like to make enough money to buy a bigger property (a certain blue house, in fact) and use it for writer’s retreats that would bring people to Monte and to the Valley for inspiration. I would also have more time to write. That’s my new vision of success.
I have not yet figured out the steps but I know that I don’t have much control over the outcome. As I always told my students, “There is a difference between a dream and a goal. The dream pulls you beyond where you thought you would be able to go. We are paralyzed without a dream. You cannot fail at a dream, either. Goals are what lead us to the dream.”
Today I reached the goal of getting my novels into a brick and mortar store — The Narrow Gauge Newsstand in Alamosa. There is a chance it could bring me closer to the dream. The next steps will be the other independent bookstores in my “hood” — a hood as big as Connecticut. I am going to shoot for the bookstores in Taos, Salida, Pagosa Springs, Colorado Springs and just maybe
The illustration is IndieBRAG’s “badge” for BRAG Medallion books that make it into “real live” bookstores. 🙂 I love it.