After writing yesterday’s blog post, the part of my brain which remembers how to do conventions woke up. I was able to think in advance and organize. This meant today I was prepared to commit commerce and to enjoy interactions with friends, fans, and others. All of this was greatly helped by the fact that Kiki arrived home from college and came to the convention with me. It is a professional event for her as well and we made a good team. She makes me laugh, which always makes the day better.
I had some conversations today that I will treasure. I can’t share them because they aren’t my stories to tell. They really aren’t about me at all. They are about the person who came to my table with a question or an observation. Then some bit of knowledge that I shared or some stray eddy of thought changed them. Because of that conversation, they walked away with a new plan or insight. I love getting to witness those moments. LTUE always provides far more of those moments than any other convention I attend. People’s lives and careers are changed. Things are made possible.
The other thing from today that I will treasure was my reading. People came, which always feels like a miracle, particularly at an event like LTUE when I know that they have to give up something else to be there. It was just us there in that room, me at the front, and an hour to focus on the words that I have written. A reading is an experience that can feel daunting or terrifying, particularly because writers often wonder if their words are good enough. I am fortunate in that I could begin with a picture book. Picture books are friendly. I pulled up a chair and announced the beginning of story time. So there I was, reading a picture book and pausing to show the pictures to the room full of adults. A small piece of my brain was sure that they were bored, particularly because the first book was one that many of them had already read to their kids. Probably more than once. That was when the second miracle occurred. They laughed. It wasn’t loud or long, just a chuckle, but it was enough to let me know that they were enjoying the story.
I switched to some essays and then finished with the first part of my novel in progress. More than once I looked up to see emotion on the faces of my audience. I wrote words, I read those words aloud, and the audience cared. What a gift to see that in action. I forget sometimes when I’m sitting in my house with my laptop that my words can reach out and cause someone else to feel, to grow, to change. That is an amazing power that writers reach for when they tell their stories. I felt humbled to actually see it working. Hours later, I’m still thinking about it and part of me is like a little child crying out “Let’s do that again!” Another part of me thinks that this reading was a special case, a gift to people in that room who needed it, one of whom was me. I’m so very grateful for the people who came and listened.
There were lots of other things about the day which went well. My brain was in full gear for my presentation: Building a Community Among Your Readers. I should blog my notes for that. It was obvious from the comments afterward that people found it useful, which is the point of having panels and presentations. They exist for the attendees. I’m relieved, because the last time I gave presentations I walked away feeling like I could have done much better. I’m also relieved that I managed to get through two hours of talking and didn’t have a coughing fit in front of an audience.
Tomorrow I’m back to being on panels. My solo day is over, which makes me both glad, because I’m not under quite as much pressure, but also sad, because I really love this sort of teaching. One more day.
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