TODAY IS THE PUB DATE of the New Edition of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. It’s the complete edition, now, since it includes a Part 4, that I had written immediately after Part 3, years ago, but never published with the first parts. It didn’t get published since I thought it was just not proper at the time, it was something in the future of the flock (and in the world of humans), that would never happen.
I thought I had thrown Part 4 away. But a while ago, Sabryna was going through old files and she found a fading old typewritten Part 4. She visited me, asked if I knew what she had found.
I said no. Then I couldn’t stand her silence, “What did you find?”
And there in her hand was the old writing, and I remembered it. Times had changed, and now Part 4 was germane to the story, and the publisher agreed. So now it’s on sale.
I remembered what had happened after Jonathan was published. I flew around the country, talking about the book for those who cared, signing copies. Looking back now, I’m sure that I must have autographed at least….a dozen copies of the book for readers. Could have been more.
And now, for one of the first times, I sent autographed copies to readers and two of them never found their owners! One was international, but I’ve sent international copies for all these years and they managed to get where they wanted to go.
Yesterweek, the publisher had sent me 20 copies of the new edition, and they were lost! I’ve now stopped signing books, for all the expense of money and time sending books and they never arrive, it’s not worth the owner’s time, or even mine.
I remembered, though, what I thought about autographed copies. I remembered the first time I saw Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s signature on a thousand-dollar copy of The Little Prince. One can learn much about a person from their signature, and I saw his small careful signature, almost hand-printed letters, on the page — a person who cared about details!
I never would have guessed that Saint-Exupery cared about details, I thought he might have been a pilot who subscribes to the old-time ways: “Kick-the-tires, Light-the-fires and First-one-off-is-the-Leader.“ Not only do I know some pilots like that, I’m sort of like that, myself. But not Saint-Ex. So though I couldn’t afford to buy that signature (now one’s for sale at $140,000), I never forgot it.
Today, I thought that there may have been someone like me who puzzles over autographs. What was I going to do, now that I’ve stopped sending books? It took me a while, but you knew the answer before I did. Could I print an autograph on the website?
My signature has been printed in several books, so it was there anyway, it wasn’t any secret, but the art that I shared with most autographs, that was not printed. Why not an autograph (which with a few hours of studying handwriting practice, will tell you everything about me) on the web?
Saint-Ex and I loved flying, all right, but our signatures are as far apart as two asteroids. His is careful, thoughtful, yearning to describe who that magnificent pilot could be. Mine is…different.
So you have here two autographs.
One is for fliers and the other is for…fliers, too. Of course you will understand what every line means. Why are there always seven rays from the sun, I wonder?