Last week was a pretty significant time for me. It marked the first time I walked more than 20 laps in a row at one time over at the running track at the Collicutt Centre. Well, real gymsters call it the “running track;” I call it the “walking oval of death.” Whatever you call it, that distance translates to about five miles, or in “modern” terms, about 7,000 km At least this time I didn’t collapse in a heap under the drinking fountain like I usually do after lesser laps. And, also, last week was my first book launch.
About five years ago when my two rotten kids were much younger, they said, “Dad, you know all those dumb stories you are always telling us about growing up here a hundred years ago? You know, the ones where you kept getting yourself in really stupid situations and stuff? Well, you should write those down somewhere or something. . . .”
And so I did.
It took a while but I scribbled down a bunch of stuff, like when I got the strap at South School in Grade 5, and my semi-lethal adventures on motorcycles, and lugging around a marching drum that was bigger than I was in the Optimist Drum and Bugle Corps.
You know, everyday insignificant life-changing growing up stuff.
So I put together a bunch of these stories and put them in a binder and gave them to my poor unsuspecting family members. My sister Hedy (who is also known as Heather to those people who are not her brother) quickly found out that those stories were great for starting campfires whilst out camping in their motorhome.
Just kidding, but when I sent my manuscript, which is what real writers call a whole bunch of pages with their writing on them . . . when I sent my book of memories to several publishers and a couple of agents (who are high-priced people who can’t write so they ‘agent’ instead), I got several lucrative offers back in the form of something called ‘rejection letters.’
Later, when I finally removed the metaphorical dagger, I took the advice of a good friend who happens to be one of the main characters in the stories and who also happens to somehow now be a federal court judge and who was no doubt worried that I would actually publish accounts of his, shall we say, less judgely past. He told me, “You should make the stories fictional,” meaning, ‘without his name in them.’ And so I did.
And those fictionalized stories ended up in a novel I recently published called Finding Time but which journalistic professionalism prevents me from mentioning in a column thereby shamelessly schlepping sales of books, which are available at various local stores, Amazon.com and www.harleyhay.com
All of which brings me to last week. The book launch party was at East Side Mario’s Lounge, which was my only choice for the doo since I had written a great deal of the book there. It’s true, I attend surprisingly regular writing sessions in the hustle and bustle of my favourite establishment, where I’ve become known as the nerd in the corner scribbling stuff in a notebook while the hockey game is cranked up on the big screen TVs.
These totally professional writing sessions consist of notebook scribbling fortified by beverages and appetizers which, for Revenue Canada readers, are in fact completely legitimate business expense write-offs.
So the book launch was a lovely time featuring my much more talented actor and musician friends entertaining other friends, family and new friends from far and wide who came to see if they were in the book enough to mount a lucrative lawsuit.
Even my Grade 9 English teacher and his good wife Hazel were there, probably in shock that one of his lesser students would be allowed to publish anything at all. But now he’s the mayor of this fair city and, as such, would be much too diplomatic to mention his misgivings.
But after the rampant generosity of the many good people at that party, I’m all tired and sore from too much excessive book launching, which can be strenuous when you’re not used to it.
Either that or I’m pooped on account of extreme strolling over at the oval of death. Because for me, walking five miles may be about 2,000 km too many.
Harley Hay is a local freelance columnist, filmmaker and novel author.