Years ago, a publisher handed me a stack of my books and told me never to give them away. “You worked hard to write them. You sell them.” Eager to make it as a writer, I followed her advice and rarely gifted my books. But I didn’t sell them either. I don’t feel comfortable selling things, and stacks of books gathered dust in my closet.
Then, a few months ago, I read The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, by Lewis Hyde, which asserts that art should be being given freely, instead of functioning like any other product in the commercial marketplace. With a sigh of relief, I flung open my closet doors and began sending copies of my books to everyone I could think of. Yeny and the Children for Peace to peace organisations. After Peaches went to teachers of Canadian Studies. Out of the Box went to mental health agencies. My closet emptied out, and my books were being read.
And now invitations are rolling in, the kind of thing I’ve always hoped for: speaking engagements, reviews, interviews. I’ve learned my lesson. No more books in my closet. Gifts all round.