My dad was always one of the biggest supporters of my writing. A librarian and dedicated student of existentialist philosophy to the bitter end, he read pretty much everything I ever wrote. He always encouraged me to keep writing, keep working on my craft, and more importantly to believe in my passion.
Trust me. This is going somewhere.
When he died in early April of 2005, my only publications had been in the literary journals at school. But that didn’t matter to him. He believed in me. He never lived to see my first story, “Kid Gloves” published in less than a year later.
From time to time, I’ve reached certain milestones and wished he could have been around to see it. I typically shake it off and move on. There’s no changing the past, after all.
So it was strangely poignant when I sold my novel Ink Calls to Ink to Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing last Tuesday. Yes, they’re a small publisher, some might even consider them a niche publisher. But they’re the perfect people to take this novel to the audience I’ve been trying to find for a few years now. Actual release date and cover will be announced eventually. These things take a bit of time, after all. I’m just thrilled this story gets to be told. in part because of the three point of view characters, one of them is a librarian.
Ink Calls to Ink is a celebration of books and the impact of fictional characters in our lives. More than that, it touches on existential themes such as self-determination and what it means to be human. There’s no doubt that there’s a lot of my father in this book.
So, as thrilled as I am that my novel found a good home, I couldn’t deny that it was bittersweet. I have yet to really celebrate the sale, despite having spent time with most of my friends, writers and non-writers alike since then. It’s like I hadn’t fully embraced it yet–hadn’t wrapped my brain around “what next?”
Then yesterday, after two separate writing groups, I crossed the street to this little dive named Shorty’s in Belltown where I like to go after writing at Bedlam Coffeehouse. (If you’ve never been to Bedlam, I maintain it’s the best coffeehouse in downtown. Well worth the visit. If I lived in Belltown, I’d be there all the time.) Shorty’s has an old-school arcade aesthetic and a circus clown motif. Both of which are appealing, but the two selling points for me are the Chicago dogs and the fact that they have Miller Hi-Life by the bottle. Call me a cheap date if you want, but Hi-Life is hands down my favorite cheap beer, and it’s uncommon to find it around micro-brew happy Seattle.
I sidled up to the bar, ordered my dog and a Hi-Life, and a few minutes later was served the wrong beer.
Now, I can’t fault the bar tender. It was noisy in there. It was busy. And the names were awfully similar.
Instead of my favorite, I was served a bottle of Miller Lite.
So, here’s a few things about Miller Lite you may not know: finding Miller Hi-Life is difficult in Seattle, but I’ve never, ever seen Miller Light available (though to be fair, I haven’t looked that hard), and two, Miller Lite was my dad’s beer of choice. He once said fancy micro-brews were wasted on him. He knew what he liked, and that was it.
So, no. I can’t fault the bar tender. in fact, he got a healthy tip. Because clearly he’s a psychic medium.
It’s not every day someone’s dead dad orders a beer for them to congratulate them on their first significant book sale. But if anyone’s dad could do it, it would be mine.