Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Meeting with Gods

Hey, remember that time I mentioned how Richard Blanco hated my outfit? It was really traumatic, guys. But the point is that I got to meet Richard Motherfucking Blanco. 

I was considerably lucky for many years. Due to some incredible work on the part of professors and administrators, excellent writers regularly showed up on campus at my undergraduate alma mater, and in grad school, the stakes were even higher. Right before commencement began for the summer 2012 MFA graduates, Nikky Finney turned to three of us and asked if we were nervous. Steve Almond once laughed at me for essentially revealing to two hundred people that I'd had a bad day in workshop during a q-and-a session. David Rakoff, may he rest in peace, was gracious enough not to guffaw when I asked him about the connection between comedy and pain.

I don't say any of this to brag, as in, "HEY, LOOK AT ALL THESE COOL PEOPLE WITH WHOM I RUBBED ELBOWS, HOWEVER BRIEFLY." I say it because I realize how invaluable these experiences were.

If you are ever able, go to readings and book signings. Ask questions of the authors, should time allow. You will learn so. freaking. much from them, even if you don't speak to them directly. Sometimes just watching an author read can teach you a great deal--for example, how best to present your work in public, or perhaps how to connect better with your audience.

And here's a secret: about 97 percent of the authors I've met are the nicest people in the world, so you don't have to be afraid of approaching them. The other 3 percent? You don't want to spend time with them, anyway. I promise.


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