What Happened to the Dining Room? by Debra H. Goldstein
When I was a kid, our dining room table always looked pristine. It had a beautifully ironed tablecloth on it and a lovely centerpiece that sat exactly below the chandelier. The chairs were meticulously pushed in, but never touched the table. Of course, we never used the dining room except for special family events or company who weren’t considered extended family.
True family meal gatherings were in the kitchen dinette area. The surface of that table was scuffed from the book bags dropped on it; its finish marred by original crayon drawings that hadn’t stayed on the page and later homework assignments that had gone awry. Before I reached a certain height, its legs were nicked when riding toys weren’t stopped fast enough. Later, the table sides bore the wounds where chairs were pulled or pushed against it.
When I married and raised children, I followed the same practices with my dining room and dinette, but then I became a writer. Suddenly, my books and swag needed more space. Space that could be conveniently reached, while being somewhat out of the way. My solution? Cover the wooden dining room table with the pads originally made to protect it and go for it.
For the year after my first book, Maze in Blue, came out, I told my husband we couldn’t have company. I refused to clean off the table. Slowly, my stock was sold, my swag given out, the bookmarks exhausted, and the table reappeared (of course, I did stick the banners and posters in a corner of the dining room in case I needed them again). We reclaimed the table. We entertained. When visitors went into the dining room, their eyes wandered from the breakfront to the fireplace and over the top of my clean table.
That all changed in May 2016. Should Have Played Poker was published as a hardback and six months of touring and speaking began. A printer, extra papers, swag galore, and boxes of books covered the table. When some space opened, a new shipment of books or swag arrived. Only this time, it wasn’t only the new book on the table, but copies of the old book, too, as it saw a resurgence in its sales.
Five and one-half months have passed. There actually is room for me to pack a small suitcase on the end of the table (I leave it there because I need it so often that it became tiresome going in and out of the garage to get it). The original swag is gone, the re-ordered swag is dwindling. There still are books, but by my calculation, because most of the bookstores order their own stock, there only are enough to see me through the last big consignment. By the end of the month, only one box of books and swag be relegated to the writing corner and I’ll take back the dining room table.
I’m excited, but I hope the sight of a clean dining room table doesn’t last long. For a writer, what can be better than having it covered with clutter because people want to read your books and stories? Secretly, I hope there comes a time that I never find my dining room table.