It is only during book fairs that the solitary nature of my profession comes into sharp focus. I do get daily reminders, of course –it is hard not to when you run a one-woman business from home- but during books fairs I get the chance to review it from a distance, to evaluate it against the wonderful backdrop of fellowship, comradeship and professional allegiance that I feel amongst my co-agents and fellow book professionals.
Book fairs can be tiresome and exhausting affairs. Yet, somehow, all the exhaustion dims in the light of companionship and mutual respect, this precious feeling of belonging and of being understood: “You, too? Oh my goodness, I feel exactly the same,” or “You don’t need to explain,” “Of course, it’s normal,” “I’ll help you,” “Congratulations, that’s wonderful,” or even better, “See you at the pub/party etc this evening.” It is not only refreshing and consoling it can also be therapeutic. If it weren’t for book fairs, I doubt I’d still be doing this job.
When things get tough, when the effort of navigating through uncharted waters (in this country, at least) gets a little too much for me, I know what to do. I start counting the days until the next book fair. And then, somehow, the tension disappears. It is not a trick; it’s reality. Book fairs are our only opportunity to come together; to help and inspire each other. The sooner we realise the importance of coming together, sharing and giving generously, the more fulfilling and less lonely our (professional) lives will be.
Photo courtesy of the Frankfurt Book Fair.
The Ersilia Literary Agency will be at the Thessaloniki Book Fair from May 24th to May 27th, 2012.