169On Saturday, October 25 and Sunday, October 26, the recently-published Water Lessons debuted at the Texas Book Festival, held annually in late October on the capitol grounds in Austin. Despite the myriad of books sold or displayed at the event, I ended up a few copies away from selling out completely (only two went to people I knew). It was an honor to premiere the book at this special venue, which coincides annually with the Austin Film Festival mere blocks away. For one weekend, downtown Austin teems with hundreds of writers of novels, screenplays, short story and poetry anthologies, young adult fiction, biographies, childrens’ books, not to mention film and literary agents, MFA program directors, film directors, thespians, and the great unsung heroes of the literary world—teachers and librarians. How shrewd and enterprising of Texas to throw a two-and-a-half day carnival to all that is literary, and to make it free to the public. And to have it neighbor an increasingly relevant festival for filmmakers and screenwriters. How affirming it was, as a writer, to be in the company of so many fellow creatives, most of them advertising their creations there at their booths not for the money or fame, but instead for the sheer joy in creating, for the art. And what a joy to be around such bookish and literary folk. Each participant possessed something from an affection for—to an obsession with—that which is literary or writerly. But above all, my takeaway was: what an opportune time for a writer to interact with the reading public. To know what it wants, what it is weary of, what it craves. I don’t write for the masses, for the crowd, but feedback is vital. How helpful is the Texas Book Festival in getting published writers’ names further exposure.  And how encouraging to literary folk, that here in 2014 some people still read for pleasure, and read quality writing, at that. This festival draws that minority of Austinites that indulges in good art besides good music and film. And it draws kindred souls from far and wide. I think of my new friends:  a bright twenty-something Boston University literature professor, a talented writer and MFA grad teaching at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a driven film director from Monterey, Mexico, a passionate fifty-something Austin translator of books into audio format for the blind. Now I feel the weight of a Texas Book Festival hangover, a fatigued nostalgia for what just passed, as I have often felt after a brush with other powerful art and artists at “South By” and ACL. I hope more people attend this special event, and enjoy the Texas Book Festival enough to feel the same hangover—albeit a literary one.