Monday, September 5, 2011

Who was I again

Last night I had vivid dreams about missing all manner of important appointments. It didn't matter how quickly I dressed or how much I fretted, the rendezvous location was always too far away, or suddenly obscured. This morning I breath only a little easy as I reflect on Saturday, squinting at names I knew but now cannot fully recall.

Saturday, before I went on stage, there was a meeting of the minds. People I knew from four different circles convened at a popular pub in downtown Decatur and met each other for the first time. I only had a few things jotted down on a note card, but I leaped to introduce everyone to everyone else. In the end I did a poor job of that and also of outlining what I would say. With every speaker that got up and sat down, my time crept closer and closer. I cannot remember a time when I was more terrified, and I educate teenagers these days. And my fear did not abate when the man called my name, and I did not run and hide. I stepped up behind the microphone and stared out at all those attentive faces and realized it is much worse when the audience is expecting something from you.

And I can't say that I did my best (that would've involved a nicely written, scribed in advance outline and practice) but I tried very hard not to sound ridiculous. I ended up by introducing my mother, and speaking a bit about my past, the characters in the book, and reading some. There were questions, but they're blurry now just like the rest of the afternoon's transcript is. As it was, I had to have faith in my friends: I asked each of them, repeatedly, how I did. All of their comments were positive, overly so actually, so I'll have to take them at their word. My mother said I was too loud.

A bunch of other things happened on Saturday, too, but really it was more of the same. I gained an understanding of how "it" probably happens. It being the elusive "break" or "making it." Networking, is what I'm trying to say. You meet a person, and you talk to them, and when the opportunity arises, you give them a reason to remember your name and face, (you did a reading, too; you're also published; you read their work and wanted to talk about it; you're a long-lost cousin) and you repeat this process until a persona of you is created, and you start to lose viscosity in people's minds. The point, I guess, is to become like peanut butter, gunking up the works until you're a bit of what they think about, and talk to others about, and those others speak with yet more others. Which is ironic because really, you're even more vaporous than you were previously. That is to say you're not doing anything more or different, moreover you actually have less time to do what got you into those conversations; other people just know who you are and what you're doing. I met an author getting his work optioned for a movie, another writer who is somewhat famous, and another who was just starting out. I had a picture with an important man, and was asked to start an email chain regarding a reading on campus. All, I guess, because I was there standing around awkwardly in the Fall heat and not typing away in a dark room somewhere.

But I can't really say, much less know. When it was all done, I felt like I had been given a stay of execution. I was so elated I even drove over to a friend's and walked with him to Dragon Con, in my fancy new shoes and ironed shirt no less, and stayed for several hours. When the high wore off, I realized my feet hurt terribly, and went home and fell unconscious.

The interesting thing I discovered, and this was before all the craziness even started, was that established writers do that sort of thing all the time. It has nothing to do with writing, but everything to do with being a major success at anything. I guess I hope it all gets easier with repetition, because I just may find myself under those crowded lights again.


  1. I can empathise completely. I think (or rather hope) it will get easier with time. Good on you for trying. As for networking - I'll see you on Twitter. :P

  2. It's so interesting when you start thinking about what successful people do. 80% of it is just showing up. Good for you for doing so, and living to write the tale!