One might consider spelling a natural thing for a word person to be good at, and generally speaking, on the page, I’m fine. And when I’m not, well, spell-check has my back. Where I have a problem is with visual things. For example, if I go to an event and afterward someone says, “Oh, you were at Fish Farm Protest? How many people showed up?” Like newspaper reporters trying to downplay the numbers of protesters because the cause is unpopular with the owner of the paper, I really can’t count a crowd. Or even estimate numbers. Sixty? Four hundred? I’m not sure. Other people, I’ve noticed, are really good at this sort of thing. They say confidently, “Oh, there were about five-hundred-thirty-eight people there.” and it turns out, they’re about right.
My friend Nicole asked me before my first signing if I had been practicing my signature. I just laughed. I mean, I’ve been signing my name for quite a few years now. My whole life has been practice for signing books. I spent all of seventh grade writing my name in different fancy script on my Trapper Keeper (and yes, perhaps a boy’s name was attached to it with a plus sign and little hearts, and yes, possibly that’s why I’m not very good at math, but let’s not go there). When it comes to signing my name, I’ve got flair. I do occasionally get carried away and add an extra “l” or “e.” Something like: Joellle or Joellee. I can’t help it. I get all excited with all the loops. Luckily, I’ve found a way to combat that. I just start writing my last name over the top of the extra letters.
With bookstore events looming, it definitely wasn’t my name I was worried about writing. What scared the tar out of me about signing books was writing other people’s names! Luckily, back in the days when I used to read a lot of blogs, I read on the author, Cynthia Lord‘s livejournal, about her little notebook. What she does is carry a notebook and she has each person write down their name (or whoever they want the book signed to) in it so she can actually see it written down. Not only does she have a very cool keepsake, but she didn’t end up buying a bunch of books inscribed Dear Brianna when it should’ve been Dear Breehanna either.
Because I am a lucky person, right before my tour, my lovely friend Alexa sent me a congratulatory gift on the occasion of being published. A little notebook! On the front is a fiddle and it says: Listen to your heart. Once you find the beat, you will always walk in tune. And now the inside is filled with the names of the people who I signed books for at my events.