Publishing a book often feels like throwing a stone into a pond: there’s a little splash, a few ripples, and then it’s gone. If you’re lucky, the splash will be reviews and even a prize. Perhaps the ripples will include some letters from readers or visits to festivals. And then… nothing.
But books have a life of their own. Long after the book has been published – sunk to the bottom of a pond, languishing among the weeds, forgotten – someone will read it. They’ll find a lone copy languishing on a dusty shelf in a library. And, once again, your words will come alive.
I recently got an email from a friend, a composer. Many years ago, she asked me to write some words to accompany her music. Two actors recorded the words. The piece was performed. And that was that.
Now, she wrote to me to announce, it has been performed again at a festival in Toronto.
The fate of these words – written and recorded so long ago that I can hardly remember anything about them – made me feel enormously optimistic. It was as if this particular stone’s ripples had bounced back and forth across the pond, never fading, never disappearing, continuing for years.