‘TIS APRIL, AND a writer’s thoughts turn to producing a work of art. Well, at least a work.

Maine writers, thawing from a winter of despair, are churning out poetry and prose. Belgrade author Earl Smith (”The Dam Committee”/”More Dam Trouble”) is pushing his latest, “Head of Falls.”

Like many others, I am mostly read in central Maine unless I’m picked up in Florida by snowbird readers who still read my columns online.

Perhaps — accidentally, of course — my book, “Will Write For Food,” could be read by someone on a plane bound for China, who had found a copy left by someone else who, in turn, had found it on a chair in the lounge, where it had been left by a reader who got it for Christmas from a cousin in Winslow. Luck plays a strong hand for writers.

The year 2015 is another century ago for a book. Readers, even the most devout, are fickle and start looking for new, more exciting volumes, so I have to find a way to insert myself into their world.

Which brings us to “The Road.” Writers can’t just wait for readers to find us. We have to “market” the book. We have to take it and hit “The Road,” which means we have to get ourselves invited to “readings.”

Readings are where we can, with our wit and charm, seduce the listeners to buy a copy and spread the word, and in turn give me, for example, enough change to buy peanut butter so Jack, The Dog, will take his arthritis pill.

This road takes us from place to place in rain or shine, snow or heat waves, like Siberian snow shovelers, to out of the way areas that I, for one, have never visited before, like Wayne, Palermo or Palmyra.

Hopefully, we will then find ourselves in libraries to read parts of our work to full, or partially-full, rooms of readers who come to see if we look as handsome as we do on our book jackets.

Libraries are more than warm, comfortable places to sit and read on cold days; libraries and their keepers are the best friends of beginning writers. Without them, we brave, we few, we unknowns would have to stand on street corners and hawk the book like fruit peddlers.

These readings can be a challenge for some. Most writers become writers because they don’t necessarily like talking to anyone. J.D. Salinger and Thomas Pynchon would fall flat in Palermo or Wayne, even though both have well educated and voracious readers.

Maine storytellers like the prolific and well-known mystery writer Gerry Boyle (”Straw Man,” “Pretty Dead”), whose works now fill an entire shelf at book stores, and Maureen Milliken (”Cold Hard News,” “No News is Bad News”) are solid, quiet writers, not entertainers. Their well-written mysteries speak for themselves. I’m betting their audiences are really there to see what these “killer creators” look like in person.

An afternoon or evening at a library reading with yours truly is quite another matter. With the occasional foray into the madness of politics or show business nostalgia, I’m basically an ex-television actor turned stand-up comic who writes his own material. Laughter is my drug, so I love the question-and-answer closings better than reading from my book, and sometimes I think my listeners feel that way, too.

It’s fun for me, because it’s where I get to return to the stage and bolster my ego.

After many of these occasions, it became clear to me that because I come from a long ago and far away Hollywood, my best audiences are seniors who range from 60 to 95. It was a 95-year-old woman at one reading who asked if I had known Lionel Barrymore or Greta Garbo, both actors dead and buried before I Ieft high school. I’m thinking maybe I should update my recollections and do a little hair coloring.

But as April begins, I am hard at work on my final tome, a memoir called “From Handsome to Happy.” Don’t be fooled, it’s not as funny as it sounds.

We will all be there again this year in your libraries, even flower and boat shows, anywhere where people gather to read. The great lyricist Stephen Sondheim speaks for me when I promise:

“Old situations, new complications, nothing portentous or polite, tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight.”

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. He will speak at an upcoming “Community Voices” event in August.


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