Robert also wondered if, by directly selling my book, I was “perhaps messing with your own head, your relationship with others, and… your experience of having written it.” While appreciative of my “boldness and eccentricity,” he counseled I let-go and move-on.
This was an interesting observation. I certainly remained more involved with “Cheesesteak” than if I did not share my café table with my stack of copies and my “Buy Bob’s Books!” sign. I did take in if people eyed or ignored my display. And I measured the responses of those who’d read me. The presence of my books seemed to dissuade some people from asking to join me. But others, who had read or begun the book, would sit down to share their comments, which often revealed aspects of them of which I had been unaware. This felt good.
Of course, the sign and the books were more than an effort to make back my nut. Of course, it was a some-would-say uncharacteristic, exhibitionist effort to call attention to myself. And, in fact, I was redefining who I was to others at the café. “So that’s what you’ve been doing,” more than one person remarked, referring to my daily efforts at my yellow pads, as though my association with an actual bound-and-printed object had elevated me beyond the random madman one offered encountered in town, hunched over a notebook, his pen obsessively firing.
I was also redefining myself. (Any alteration of experience, I suppose, does that if you maintain awareness of it.) The books and sign positioned me differently. They changed how I looked upon the passing world. They brought to the forefront the sense of self-as-writer — the sense of self as eccentric— (in a nice way) writer — within me. I began to think of myself as a performance artist, in the line of Marina Abromovic, without the self-stabbings or setting portions of myself on fire, exploring the relationship between creator and audience.