For four years, ending last Friday, I served on the Access Copyright board and it felt like I was learning up a cliff, reading documents for which I should have had a law degree and voting on complex issues where every decision was both wrong and right for different reasons. Perhaps one of the hardest things to do was vote myself, and a number of my colleagues, off the island. The changes that occurred made it better for the organization to continue without us.
(When I used to come in for meetings at one Yonge Street, I would always see Captain John’s Dining Ship in the harbour. Perhaps it’s only fitting to mention it will be towed away soon, bankrupt and rusting)
Along the way I learned so much especially about handling change from the director Roanie Levy and the wonderful Access Copyright Staff. Their numbers had already been reduced by half when the schools and universities refused to pay for licensing. But their chins stay up as they keep looking to the future and welcoming new business models,
To commemorate our leaving we enjoyed a special night together where our board’s legal counsel, received an award and we officially renamed the Access Copyright Foundation Research Grant in her honour: The Marian Hebb Grant.
Then storyteller Corin Raymond performed “Bookworm” for us. This was an amazing tale of growing up surrounded by books and absorbing a father’s love for these stories. Corin kept referring to and reciting from his all-time favourite Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. (An ironic title when you think of what all may yet be in store for Access Copyright.) Corin told us how he reread this book periodically but that he also kept buying copies and giving them away. His very last copy he gave to his brother and after he did, that very day, he found a package in his mailbox with an autographed copy from the author who had heard about his devotion to the book.
What a perfect gift for the outgoing directors–a story celebrating the passion of pages. How lucky we are to love and treasure books and to have served to protect their creators.
Another more immediate takeaway from Corin Raymond’s telling was: Reread your favourite books. Savour and enjoy them with a second, a third or even a seasonal reading.
Now that I’m finished with my official job at Access Copyright, I am going to re-read some book on my shelves. After I finish reading Something Wicked this Way Comes, that is.
The Oakville librarians were very kind and concerned that my young readers would mob me, their guest author, the reward for a day of a book trivia contest known as Battle of the Books.
Let me say I LOVE Battle of the Books. I’ve sat in as a guest timer and also acted as a author speaker at Milton, Burlington, and Oakville Public Libraries for these competitions. I love them because I hear questions about not only my own books but my colleague friends’. I see the love of writing in the competitors’ eyes and hear it in their enthusiasm.
Often to guess the right author, the students chant the surnames of my friends in alphabetical order. What a hoot!
Getting mobbed afterwards is a pleasure! I bring bookmarks and postcards and autograph them as well as team t-shirts or other souvenirs of the day.
Compare the experience to the bookstore signing which often feels like setting up a lemonade stand in the middle of a Moccaccino shop. Here I use the same bookmarks and postcards and call out to passerbys who in this case were on their way to buy American Girl doll accessories or ice coffees of various varieties.
Alone in a sea of consumption.
I did meet some keen book lovers as well a girl with dead eyes who complained about her bodyguards and a man who said he was famous, but not on this earth. He drew his signature in graphics spelling out “I am Maha.” Don’t get me wrong, I like meeting them all.
But, please let my readers mob me!
Recently a good friend of mine, Gisela Sherman, enjoyed a great triumph: the publication of a project that I had watched grow from research and through workshops. This book, The Farmerettes, recently launched at Second Story’s “Stories from the Shoa” event. (It will launch again in Burlington at A Different Drummer Books on May 24) I wanted to get her a small token to celebrate the event, I’d already bought a book, but then decided that the best gift to give her was to buy another copy.
It is not so bizarre to own two copies of a book I treasure, one for the bedroom, one for the living room or one to keep in the car or a purse in case of sudden bursts of waiting. But in this case I remembered another friend, an exercise pal, remarking that she enjoyed historical fiction and she was bored by recent long, depressing bookclub picks.
Enter The Random Booking.
I asked Gisela to autograph the novel to my friend and put it in one of those recyclable little bags which I tucked in her mailbox while she was away at work.
At Aquafit last night, the second friend told me about the terrible day at work she had that began at 7 am and how she wanted to quit and then when she returned home at 7 pm, how she slumped at the dining room table too exhausted to move.
Then she spotted the bag on the table; her husband had taken it in for her.
She discovered her new book! Her day turned around. The Farmerettes is an emotional yet hopeful WWII novel that celebrates the contribution of women in agriculture on our local farms. By the back blurb, she knows she will enjoy it and looks forward to reading it.
Go on. Try Random Booking a friend. It doesn’t have to be in their usual genre of reading choice. Make it a local author whom you enjoy.
As for the next launch of this story–guess I’ll pick up my purse copy.