It's been a full or most-of National Poetry Month since my last confession. Really, so long I don't remember the last time I confessed anything. So long, I'm not even sure how to begin. So I'll begin with something I enjoyed: Ira Glass and his talk on Reinventing Radio (the link is so you can see when Ira and/or Reinventing Radio is coming to your town).
And if you have never listened to This American Life, you should be. I've been a fan since before 9/11/01 because I distinctly remember listening to this podcast. (I think I started listening in 1998.)
Meeting Ira Glass and Which Dwarf I Am + Techno Dancing:
I confess when it comes to Ira Glass, I'm kind of sure thing and easily impressed. If he would have given a two-hour talk on the importance of using Muppet babies in our writing or the benefits of tying your shoes with pipe cleaner, I'm sure I would have yelled "bravo" from the balcony. I'm a super fan like that.
And I'm still in my happy place since meeting him
As many of you already know, I am a complete dork when it comes to meeting people I admire.
I become one of Snow White's rarely talked about dwarfs: Socially Awkward. Socially Awkward dwarf is like Bashful, but without all the cuteness. I have much more heartpounding and crazy energy. I also get really smiley.
Here's me acting like an ass:
Sometimes S.A. dwarf can be calmed down with an apple martini. Meeting Ira happened at 1:30 pm in the afternoon and I had just drank a venti Tully's coffee, so instead of being the "cool one," I was the one doing a techno dance in my head, which I guess is better than next to him. Which I'm sure if better than techno dancing next to him.
I confess I felt uncomfortable when I saw people wanting to show Ira their stuff.
Wait, that sounded dirty. Not that stuff: their work, their art, pitch him a story...whatever. It makes me feel as if we all can't just be normal humans appreciating each other's brilliance and beauty, but we have to try to get ourselves to a higher place.
I like you, but here's my stuff. Maybe you can take me and my stuff and bring it to your level with your stuff. Maybe you can give me a hand...
I always want to take the person offering their stuff and walk them to appetizers: Here, have a fruit torte. Put your stuff away.
I am not a stuff-shower (note: that word is "show-er" not the thing you bathe beneath). You and I will have to be good and close before I show you my stuff. (Except if it's published, then I don't even need to know you, which is both odd and exhilarating. But you can see that stuff, that's approved stuff and blog stuff is okay too. But the other stuff, unless I can really get to talk with you one-on-one and alone (or in a small group)--I'm a little private with that.)
Anyway, back to showing each other our stuff.
Here's the thing about that-- while there's a part of me that hates it when people do this, there's also a part of me that admires it because I can't walk up to someone I admire and just met and say, "I write. Here, read my work." Or, "I have this great idea..."
Normally what I say:
- Thanks for coming out.
- I like your show/book/face/hair/suit/shoes/talent/voice/smile/viola.
- My favorite thing you did is __________."
If I really like you, I might just be all smiley and touchy and weird, not saying much except thanks. (Wait, is this what *charming* is? -- no, no, it's not.)
How To Make Friends and Maybe Not Influence Anyone:
I confess once at a writing festival, I saw a writer friend of mine ask another more-famous writer he just met for a blurb, then my friend handed famouser writer a broadside. I was floored. YOU JUST MET! I screamed in my head (and later to him).
They talked and exchanged emails. What I said to famous writer, "Thank you for signing my book."
I learned later that my writer friend was eventually told no, but they stayed in touch and are friends now.
I was both impressed and horrified with my writer friend at once. Where does one get the fire to do that? Should I do that? How does one learn that skill? Did I eat crayons as a child?
You see what I'm getting at. Some of us can walk up to anyone with the confidence of a buffalo--I'm here and I'm not going anywhere until I tell you what I want.
While others of us are the tumbleweeds passing by. I, my friends, am that tumbleweed.
Seeing my friend ask someone *he just met* for a favor, blew me away. In my world, asking someone you just met makes everyone uncomfortable, but he didn't see it that way, and while he didn't get the blurb, he put himself out there and met someone.
Maybe I'm not sure what the lesson is here. Take a risk and you may not get what you want, but you may get a Christmas card out of it?
It Could Have Been the Soup:
I confess, I think there was a time when I could be a little more brave. I remember when my first book came out, I went to a festival where Ted Kooser was reading and I was a fan of his work. I think it was right after he had won the Pulitzer. I felt excited about my book and my inner poet said: Well, just give him a copy and he will be excited too!
I remember him as I handed him my book he had this sick/odd/sad look of "Why are you giving me your book?"
Maybe he's just introverted and awkward too. Maybe everyone was giving him their book. Maybe he was thinking about bad soup and I misinterpreted his look. I remember feeling silly afterwards. And I never heard from him, not that I asked to hear from him. But I remember feeling as if I shouldn't have done that.
That may have been the last time I offered my work/book/self to someone I just met. Or maybe, the keyword is someone I admired.
One Person's Self-Promoter is Another Person's Freedom Fighter (wait, what?):
I confess there is an optimistic part of me that says: Be brave. Live in the moment. What have you got to lose?!
Then there's the part of me that says, Why put yourself out there?
Maybe I don't trust that optimistic voice because she talks in cliche.
I know I do take risks.
Mostly, they are in my writing.
My risks usually don't involve other people and rarely someone I just met. Or they don't include what other people can do for me.
I'm not crazy about in-person risks (I startle easily) especially with writers. Two introverts or soc-awks trying to figure out how to respond to each other. On the other hand, I do appreciate moments of complete inappropriateness and humiliation as new and possible rich writing material as I definitely see the humor in some of my most awkward moments, but I don't aim for it.
Or maybe I wait to get to know you to see if you get to be in my circle of trust--
Or maybe this:
Or maybe I think when you meet someone in person for the first time, maybe we should arrive with what you can offer to the conversation instead of what we can take away.
Maybe it's a career downfall of mine, or maybe it's just the way I'm wired.
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