I spent a few hours this week attempting to assist my publisher, Dr. Ken Tupper, Owner/Founder of Divertir Publishing, with the cover for my next book release. We’re trying to find just the right design for my short story collection, Invisible Society Fables, soon to be published (June, I hope I hope I hope or maybe July, rats). The book is about people who are homeless and others who interact and try to work with them. Taking classic fables, Aesop’s and others, I summarize them at the start of each story along with their morals, then re-create the fables into current homeless situations while maintaining those morals. Dr. Tupper and his editing staff voted to donate 100% of their proceeds from book sales to the charity of my choice: I chose the Midway Shelter in Alameda. Invisible Society Fables will be the third in their line-up for which they will donate their profits. I am so proud of that and very grateful, to say the least!
So, laptop and Internet access in hand (and in The Cloud?), I searched world-wide, really, world-wide, for a cool cover picture. I ultimately discovered so much in my search, from dealing with copyright infringement issues, to all-out hunting for free public use photography sites, to navigating electronic picture galleries, to experiencing thousands of pictures depicting the plight of homeless people in every nook and cranny on Earth. It wasn’t all that cool, it was downright disheartening. Homeless people everywhere, singles, couples, families, babies taking care of babies, grandmas leaning on grandpas, all ages, all colors, all shapes and sizes. In many of the pictures, I wouldn’t even have known a person was homeless or not if not for their chosen nesting spot on the street/overpass/subway/park bench, the filth, the garbage bags and grocery carts, but mostly the haunting look in their eyes. Lost and nowhere to go - that’s a telling look, I swear.
But, here was my most important discovery, maybe more the unearthing of an important question.
I was on that search for cover art, the target idea: A homeless person on the street with others just passing by, not looking, not seeing, not helping. Just ignoring. That attitude makes the homeless person disappear, become invisible right, and that disappearing act will be depicted in the picture? Yes, maybe, and also no.
Yes, it’s a classic move by many to ignore that dirty, cold, hungry, maybe loud maybe stupefied person sitting on the street, right in your path to work, school, shopping, a night out, whatever. Maybe if you don’t acknowledge them and don’t respond to them, well then nothing bad is going to happen, you can avoid any issues, literally sidestep confrontation, if you will; and hey, you’re a kind person, you do try to help in other ways anyway. But, out here, come on, you’ve got to be somewhere, get someplace, train to catch, meeting, pick up, hurry up, gotta, shoulda, havta. Really no time to help now, but later, for sure, always. Please just let me pass, I’ll ignore you, please ignore me. Just be a good person and be invisible for a minute until I pass, okay? Groovy.
So, in doing that – and, yeah, I do that, too – who really winds up invisible? The homeless person dealing with a horrible situation or you and me hiding in plain sight?
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My book, Slow Pitch Softball – More Than Just a Game, will be on display in the Independent Book Publishers of America booth:
May 29 to May 31, at BookExpo America, New York, NY – The #1 Book and Author Event in the Country (in 2013, over 20,000 attendees from 48 states and 82 countries) – This is over and they had a huge turn-out! Many articles and comments about this great event on-line.
June 28 to July 1, at The American Association of Librarians Annual Conference, Las Vegas, NV – The oldest & largest library association in the World (in 2013, over 26,000 attendees from 48 states and 82 countries). NEXT UP!!!
Check it out if you’re around one of those great cities and love books. Unfortunately, only my book will be on display, I will be at home!!! Please see more at my website: www.philcanalin.com