So today I had a colonoscopy and sold two copies of my book to nurses.
The first was my main intake nurse, white, from the UK. She talked really fast, letting me know everything she was going to accomplish in her allotted 15 minutes. But her voice dropped to a near whisper when she began more personal sharing.
“I’m a stay at home mom basically”, she confided, but I don’t want to get depressed like some of my neighbors, so I’m working part time.”
Somehow our conversation quickly moved to religion and politics. She spoke of going to Catholic School as a child and being taught by nuns who provided “a wonderful education”. But she is not a Catholic today.
“I love the new Pope, but I know he can’t change anything” she said. Her views of the President were similar:
“I like Obama”, she said, but I don’t think he’s made any changes”.
She described her brother’s reaction to news in the US – “so distorted”, We agreed on that.
I was lying down on one of those beds-with-wheels surrounded by curtains being prepped for my procedure. My book was in my hands, on top of the sheet against my chest. The nurse picked it up, exclaimed about loving the feel of my book. ”It feels lovely in your hand”, she exclaimed, and then turned to read the information on the back cover. “You have had such an interesting life – and your book sounds fascinating. I must get one”. She sounded genuinely delighted.
Without missing a beat, she proceeded to fill out multiple forms, showing me efficiently where to sign, asked a hundred questions about my medical history – several more than once – and did in fact accomplish all this in the 15 minutes allotted for her many tasks.
I liked her. There was a sense of personal caring and connection. Despite the 15 minute time constraint, we got to know one another a little – as people, not just nurse and patient. But as someone wheeled me away, I realized that although she must have had a name tag, I didn’t know her name.
The second nurse was my main discharge nurse. She was black, an Atlanta native, and had heard about my book from nurse number one. She pulled out her cell phone and took a picture of the front cover so she could order it.
“Do you ever speak to groups?” She confided she plans agenda for a women’s Bible study group at her church, and sometimes they have speakers.
She took out the IV, put a little bandage on the site, got my clothes, brought a glass of water, showed me the way to the exit, took one of my outdated business cards, looked at it, saw I do retreats and asked about those too. She did all this in just 7 minutes. But I realize – I don’t know her name either. And I feel bad about that.
Somebody wrote somewhere: “Take it everywhere you go”. This was in some list of ways to promote your book of course. I took it seriously, and have added a few embellishments which I’ll pass on to you.
For example, I always carry it with the back cover toward the other person. I try to hold it as close to their eye level as possible and always make sure my arm it not covering up the picture of the author – who is me, of course.
It is amazing how many people see the pic, look at me, and say “Oh – that’s your book”! They seem excited to meet an author and conversation and book inspection begins. This happened Saturday and Sunday too – not yesterday though, that was colonoscopy prep day.
I’m actually having a blast with this. And I’m laughing at myself. I mean, I’m the one who told Wayne, my editor, very seriously that I despised marketing and found self-promotion, what? – repulsive? odious? Something like that. Wayne said “Think of it as sharing what’s important to you”. That was good advice and I tried, but frankly my main motivator is that it’s just plain fun.
Sometimes I wonder what new corridor I’m travelling down of course. The self-critiquing “walk the high road” voice still whispers in my ear. The self-observant eye still hovers just over my right shoulder. I get a little nervous because this is unknown territory and I don’t know the boundaries yet. So it felt good when the editor of the Readers Unbound blog suggested the last paragraph of my blog was too much like advertising. She did so kindly, she was right, and I was grateful. That was in yesterday’s email and it didn’t stop me from grabbing the book just before exiting the house to go to the hospital for “the procedure”.
Maybe I should carry a tote with several books with me? Or have one made with the book cover on it? I mean, people may forget to do the Amazon thing. Hmmm. I’ll think about it.
P.S. Results today? All good! PPS. I really will try to remember their names!