May 7, 2014

Sheldon Lee Compton


So I wrote this book.  We had a sort of event for it when it came out, my publisher and some folks, mostly my relatives.  It was one of the saddest days I can remember.

My wife snapped all kinds of pictures and they were the most beautiful pictures taken of a train wreck you've ever seen. 

My sister ordered napkins with the name of my book and my name printed on them.  They were even the colors that were on the book, orange and black.  My mom made baked beans and potato salad and my cousin brought his guitar.  My uncle was there.  He had written a book, too.  It made me sad to see him sitting and reading my book with all those empty chairs around him. 

I didn't care that no one showed up.  That wasn't the sad part.  The sad part was that all these people who loved me came out and took time and effort to bring food and order napkins and read my little stories and then listen to me read my little stories.  They smiled and hugged me outside the Expo Center in Pikeville where we had this thing and I wanted to apologize to every one of them. 

I wanted to cry but my daughter was there playing with my publisher's daughters and they didn't seem to care about all the sadness.  The only thing I could hope for was that she would forget this day ever happened, forget or not care that her daddy had ever written a book and made good people cook for him and give him attention just because there was this book like a million other books. 

But I figured if they could smile, I could try to smile.  So I went with my publisher to buy this barbeque grill at the Dollar General.  My family and my publisher made burgers on it with the legs wobbling around and screws working loose while I sat and talked about myself for an hour. 

When I left I felt like I used to feel after playing basketball all day in the summer and not showering before bed.  Gritty and slimy and wrong.  I wished I'd never written a word.


Sheldon Lee Compton is the author of the collection The Same Terrible Storm and the upcoming collection Where Alligators Sleep. His work has been widely published and anthologized, but also may exclusively appear at his blog, Bent Country, from time to time. He was a judge's selection winner in 2012 for the Still Fiction Award and a finalist in 2013 for the Gertrude Stein Award. He survives in Eastern Kentucky.

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