Here, at a local craft fair last Saturday, our two Sisters in Crime(SinC) tables of books sit surrounded by an abundance of yarn, beads, paper and ceramics. Local authors smile, ready to autograph their volumes. Yet attendees walk past our offerings without even acknowledging the fact that our tables are here, offering as holiday gifts some fantastic mystery/suspense books for sale. We are, to all intents and purposes, invisible.
Funny how we writers enthuse about our ‘craft’ and work hard at ‘crafting’ our stories into a true art form, yet the public doesn’t see it as a craft. Or an art. They walk by, noses in the air, heads turned, as though we are interlopers among the handcrafted jewelry, scarves, hats, soaps, toys, cards and exotic canned goods.
Where are the readers? Do they not go to craft fairs, especially at this time of year? I know that wherever I am, whatever the venue, I immediately gravitate to any book stall, whether I buy or not. I never walk by and say nothing. I make eye contact, smile and say, “Hi.” I do not act as though if I so much as looked at the booksellers they would pull out an submachine gun and drill me full of holes, or kidnap me and lock me in a room with a diet of bread, water and unintelligible translations of Cicero.
Have we become a society of specialization to the point that the craft of writing has no place except in its own isolated venue? It seems only writers consider writing a craft that becomes, in its own right, a form of art. And yet at art and craft fairs, books seem to have no place. Perhaps we need to educate the general public of the place writing has in our society. If we don’t, it’s quite possible that books will forever more be relegated to online stores, and we writers will have to retire our special autograph pens.
And the world will be the poorer for it.
(Thanks to Tony and Susan Piazza for the photos. See Tony’s website at: www.authortonypiazza.com)