Pop, pop, pop! (goes the publicity popcorn)

I just had a thought.

I was thinking about a blog post by Laura Stanfill, called “Publicity Payoffs: Emily January.”

I interviewed Laura back when her small press, Forest Avenue Press, published their first book, Brave on the Page (which I wrote about here).

But now they’re publishing their first work of fiction, A Simplified Map of the Real World, by Stevan Allred. In the blog post, she writes, “I’ve been working on this one book for nine months…” and today I realized what her experience, working for months and months and then finally seeing it all start to pay off, reminded me of.

My first (serious, non-high-school) band rehearsed for over six months before we had a gig, before pretty much anybody heard us except for us. From Valentine’s Day to Labor Day (almost exactly), and when we had that first gig we learned two very important things.

One was, “Hey, this is actually for real!” As Laura can tell you (part of her promotional process includes a lot of public events), nothing is more suddenly real than being on a stage in front of an audience.

The other thing we learned was that all that rehearsing and writing and rewriting and arranging and rearranging all paid off. That’s a really great feeling.

My second band was basically pulled together on the fly (with gigs already booked) and we did four gigs in a row with different lineups, each of which had been together for ten days or less. 

That can be great, too, being that close to the edge and making it work, minute by minute — like the difference between carefully rehearsed comedy skits and improv. The latter is closer to what I’m doing these days, where I’m basically writing and posting and writing and posting (and which I think is going really well — though this didn’t end up being the story where I broke all the rules for how a story should begin, all in one story).

Anyway, preparation can get frustrating, but it does pay off, sometimes in surprising ways.

I just emailed Laura to tell her I was writing this, and she wrote right back: “I ran to Powell’s tonight to look at the marquee–Stevan’s there! I stood under his giant name and I felt like okay, this is what I’ve done for him. This. Right here. I made it happen, Jeremy at Powell’s made it happen, the person with the letters and the pole made it happen.”



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6 Responses to Pop, pop, pop! (goes the publicity popcorn)

  1. Maggie says:

    What an amazing feeling! Congratulations to Laura and Stevan!

  2. Thanks, Maggie! No matter what happens with this beautiful book, I felt so grateful and thankful to be standing there looking up last night. It has long been Stevan’s dream to have his name on that marquee.

  3. This whole idea of preparations for gigs, and your band comparison, is so apt, Anthony! Thanks for talking about our journey. What’s different this time is I’m neither performer nor composer. Maybe I’m the band manager? Or someone else said congrats on this birth, and this book is not my baby, because I didn’t write it, but it sort of is, because I’ve been taking care of it and have a fierce connection to every piece of it. Maybe I’m the midwife? Or nanny?

  4. Maggie: I don’t think I’ve ever done a blog post so fast, from the initial idea to the final posting was very quick — I think I was excited remembering that feeling of everything suddenly becoming real. Then I emailed Laura, just to say, “Hey, I’m writing about you,” and she emailed right back about being at Powell’s and seeing the marquee, and I asked if I could quote her first email, and she sent me photos and I went live. The process was really fun (she said it felt like working on a daily newspaper again 🙂 ).


    1) I remember the first time I looked at the CBGBs ad in the Village Voice and there was the name of my band. And everybody else who saw that ad saw that name, too. That was also a “Hey, this is real!” moment.

    2) Band manager? Midwife? Hey, metaphors are like cars. They all break down eventually.

    (Even this one. 🙂 )

  5. Pingback: Big Things | Laura Stanfill

  6. Ah yes, I’m in that moment right now, the wow, this is really happening. Stevan spoke on KBOO today, one of our local radio stations, and I was really moved hearing him talk about these characters that I’ve spent so much time with over the past nine months. I can only imagine how he’s feeling!

    Great line about the metaphors breaking down, Anthony!

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