April 3, 2012

Undercover at the Library

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director

Memphis Library

About a week ago, while on business at my local library, I decided to investigate the fiction section to gather a little intel. Specifically, I was curious to see how many of the authors we’ve featured in the magazine were represented on the public shelves.

I started with the A’s and was quickly rewarded by the appearance of Tamera Alexander, Christa Allan and Andy Andrews. Familiar friends Sandra Balzo and Nancy Cohen were not far behind. These authors and their publishers are among those who recognize the opportunity to reach new readers outside the bookstore.

By the time I got to the G’s and spied Tricia Goyer, the silence of the library was suddenly broken when I detected the sound of live music being played. Intrepidly making my way toward the event rooms to do some surveillance, I came upon a woodwind quintet from the Memphis Symphony, entertaining about two dozen 5 to 12 year olds through song and story. The librarian would read a paragraph and the band would play.  It was a clever and effective concept, combining reading with music, and I found myself just as enraptured as the small fry.

Occasionally a parent, themselves lured by the pipers, led their child into the room. One in particular caught my eye. This little girl, probably four years old, entered with a blank expression and her hands covering her ears. The music wasn’t deafening so it didn’t take a polygraph to uncover the truth of her unfiltered displeasure.

I couldn’t help wondering whether this tyke was raised on rap and considered melodies foreign and offensive, or perhaps she was more an aficionado of the cello and there just wasn’t one present. Clearly, none of this seemed to matter to the other 24 kids who hung on every note.

This library encounter provided a reminder of several things of value to this writer:

  • Words and music each convey the entire range of human emotion. Put them together and you have a powerful collaboration. Like a well-scored motion picture, some authors find it helpful to listen to music that fits the mood of whatever scene they’re writing.
  • Your audience will pay avid attention to you if they like what you’re doing. (In some cases they’re willing to sit on the floor.)
  • Whenever you do something creative, some critics are going to love it, and others simply won’t. 9 times out of 10 it will be more a reflection of them, than of you. 
I didn’t happen to notice whether the little girl ever warmed up to the presentation and eventually uncovered her ears. I hope she did, and joined these other little lives that were enriched because somebody wrote good words and somebody else played pretty music.

Me, I still had big library fish to fry, authors to check out, and mysteries to solve. Like, who is Dewey and why do we still use his Decimal System?

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