Friday, April 4, 2008

It's Just That Good

I’m the kind of person who never misses a meal, even if I have to take beta blockers in order to deal with the social anxiety of sitting with hundreds of strangers. So last year at a writing workshop that I attended without the camaraderie of my writing group, I tried to time it so I’d arrive for dinner right as the dreaded “wine reception” was ending. Unfortunately, when I got there it was in full swing so I had to grab a drink and make a few laps, hoping for someone to grab my arm and say something, anything, to me. While social, even gregarious, in many ways, I am absolutely incapable of walking up to a cluster of strangers and joining in the conversation, especially if the topic is oneself and one’s writing.

Dizzy from my fruitless laps, I took my wine and slipped out of a side door into the wet, black night to wait it out until dinner. I found a fellow writer out there already. She was having a smoke—a very bold choice at a Children’s Writing Workshop. I liked her instantly and we struck up a friendship that lasted through the conference and even beyond; we emailed for awhile and she sent me some new work to edit and I felt like we had a good thing going. Until I sent her a book. It was my absolute favorite book on writing, a gem that I reread at least once a year—Carolyn See’s Making a Literary Life. And then I never heard from her again. Not a peep.

I feel weird about it, and I think about her and the book every now and then and get that icky cringe sensation. But I can’t stop giving that book away. If anyone within earshot mentions that they’ve thought about writing, I note their address and send it off. In fact, I sent one off yesterday to a woman I met on my trip to Palenque who is full of stories waiting to be set free. When I was checking out of Amazon I looked through my account history and saw that I had given the book away 16 times—four of those even after it ended a relationship! It’s just that good.

If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to order it in hardcover so you can reread it yearly as I do. Or, if you’re at a Writers Workshop and see a woman walking aimlessly but trying to look as if she has a destination, for the love of God grab her arm and introduce yourself! You might find a box from Amazon on your porch not long after.


Disco Mermaids said...

Hey CR!

I've never read it. Can you believe it? I thought I'd read every single book about writing on the planet.

I'm sure your not hearing from this fellow writer has nothing to do with sending her a book. That is such a sweet gesture, and I'm guessing the book isn't offensive or anything. Or maybe it is. I haven't looked at it yet.

Maybe she's moved and lost your number. In a coma. Trapped under something heavy... Who knows? Writers are strange creatures.

Thanks for the tip. I'm off to fetch this book right now!


bluelikethesky said...

I second Christy on this one. It's a wonderful, wonderful book. Just keep putting goodness out into the world.

risasbwrites said...

Gad. It could have been because she's, you know, a freakin' nut case. (Sigh) Really, she must be, you know? Why else is she such a whacked-out freakazoid.

(A realization I'd alreay gotten, really. Even before following Eve's Disco Mermaid blog post link this afternoon to this blog and getting a whole new slant on it when getting to the April entries. Stressed all evening, went to bed but couldn't sleep so here we are.)

I liked you instantly too. It wasn't you or the book...mostly. But NOT in a way that was ABOUT you. And sort of not about the book (which I already had read at least 10 times and dipped into another 20+, so I completely agree with you on the fabulousness of the book. Which was part of the problem. And I ADORED and was amazed at your thoughtful and sweet gift!!).

Christy, I'm so sorry. For the icky cringe weird part. I am really, really sorry. I'm sorry for not reaching out nor realizing that it would affect you as it did. There's no excuse for that part of it. I apologize.

I can explain about the book piece. Though it's gonna make me sound like, well, see description above in first paragraph.

(fingers rubbing forehead) Carolyn See wrote you back about this? You know, I've actually been the 'other woman' before...but this puts a whole new spin on it.

And the rest of it. But, if you'd rather just let it all alone now, that's fine. Really. I just apologize. Know that I've thought of the workshop and your terrific writing and you, too.

Mmmmm, hi. It's me. I think. I mean, I think it's me you wrote about here. Maybe not. Maybe you have a slew of nutty writerish women in your ecclectic past?

Big Sur December 2006?
Possibly identifying item: Did I not tell you that you had kicked over 70 peoples collective ass when you skipped the Saturday night woo-hoo over the not-much-substance-(okay, any)-to-the-books-but-ridiculously-successful-author presentation to rewrite your critiqued pages (and much more, like 80 pages worth) into the most original Barbie-knee-crackin' dozen pages ever...which put that thoughful gleam in Laura's eye at the Sunday morning critique group? Like a real fiction writer does it?! Award-winning even? Right? Right!

Oh, and we were so unable to deal with a whole room of stranger writers at the dinner, we ate at a table OUTSIDE of the dining hall in a weird space between the lobby and dining stuff. Which actually was way cooler with the fireplace and nice table/chairs and we could actually hear each other talk.

(Sheepish wave) Okay, gonna go now.

Christy Raedeke said...

It's you!!! The internet is AMAZING! How is it possible that you have found this post?

I just emailed you at your You still at that address?

DO NOT FEEL BAD!!! DO NOT LOOSE SLEEP OVER THIS!!! It's water under the bridge and a funny little anecdote now.