Today at the campus on which I work, we had our 11th annual Writers Workshop. I was planning on attending, but my boss asked me if I would come and help her out with registration, which meant I got to go and get paid for it as well. SCORE! Of course I said yes, and I got to meet some local, talented writers, and some nationally published local writers as well. I got to learn a lot of tips for writing, for both myself and my students. I loved being there and could feel the creative energy flow. It was awesome, a true writer’s high.
It wasn’t until my second session that I was struck. And when I say struck, I mean it. I walked into a classroom, where I am usually on the other side of the scene, and I saw this lovely, thin woman with illuminated eyes and a warm smile. Reserved at first, I wasn’t sure what to make of her. She seemed sure of herself, yet hesitant to let it all out. She started talking about Edith Wharton (so, in essence, she had me at hello), and she proceeded to explain to the group that she had written an updated version of one of my favorites, House of Mirth. Her book is called The Gilded Age and is set in modern day Cleveland. I knew it sounded familiar, but I didn’t remember how. I listened along as she talked to us about place, setting, character, publication, etc in our own writing why it is all important, and how these things relate to her in her writing. She told us her Road to Publication story, and I appreciated the fact that she saw her struggles as points to make her better and want to work harder, even though at the time, I am sure she may not have seen them that way in the moment. It was at the time I checked my Nook for her book that it hit me. I had previously read about her book in People Magazine, AND I had written down that I wanted to check it out when it ran in the magazine. No way! Someone who had piqued my interest with her book description was standing right in front of me. And I was all FanGirl from there. It was my Bon Jovi moment. I was livin’ on a writer girl’s prayer.
I ended up meeting up with her in the bathroom after the lunch break, and we chatted. And she is lovely. REALLY lovely. She is funny, and real, and a mom and wife. She’s normal. Totally normal and cool. Someone I could go out to lunch with and then spend time shopping after. I told her that I had told my boss that I wanted to be friends with her. Her immediate response? “Yes! Let’s be friends!” She told me she’d follow me on the Twitter, which is just crazy to me. We talked kids, I showed her my girls, and we just did the small talk thing. We discussed books we had no desire to ever read again, authors whose style didn’t quite hit the mark with us, and what books we found downright awful. We sat beside each other at the keynote speaker address and award ceremony for local writers. The whole time I was a bit geeking out because I was sitting next to someone that has achieved one of my all time goals of publication by one of the Big Six Houses, and I felt that fire to write, to really write and do something with it, rekindle itself inside of me. Her laid back, yet professional and totally relatable personality made me believe that she and I are a lot alike, and there is no reason that I can’t be sitting in that same position in the near future. She’s just chill, but she’s borderline celeb status for me as a writer myself, and it was all I could do to ask her to take a selfie with me (please understand how hard it was… I considered it about 620 times). At the end of the awards ceremony, she went up to sell her book and sign them for attendants. I bought one (duh), and she signed it. And she did the coolest thing. After her little memo to me, she crossed out her proper name on the title page and just wrote her first name, like we’re buds or something. Just “Claire”. It was so humble, so natural. So cool. It made me smile to know that she would take that time for that personal touch, that little extra nod to “I’m just Claire”. Not many folks would do that. I was touched.
This is one more of those moments where I know one hundred percent that I am right where I need to be. I am doing what I need to do, and I am super blessed and grateful for every single opportunity that comes my way at the school and in my professional life. I practice grace and gratitude, and today I thanked God about a million times for this crazy exciting, blessed, and ordinary life I am continually amazed is mine. I also know now, more than ever, that I need to write more. Lots more. Like the keynote speaker, and suspense/fantasy writer Mindee Arnett reminded us, “Keep on writing on.” I intend to do more writing and perfecting this craft of mine. I didn’t realize it until today, but I reignited that deep-seated desire to see my name emblazoned on a book jacket. And the only way to get that highly coveted prize is to practice, practice, practice. Now, if only my three crazy girls could humor me enough to allow me the time to get that practice time in, that fancy jacket will be mine before wrinkles completely convert my face into a topographical map of the Appalachian Mountains. Eh, I’d take it even then.
Writing is something that I need to do to live.
I plan on doing it until I can’t do it anymore.
Presumably, that will mean I am no longer walking this earth.
That seriously sounds like the most perfect day ever.
Maybe I will have to get a sitter more often… 🙂