Writing about hard events and life challenges can be FUN-Part 2. A Story of Change can be fun; we decide how to accept and view the change. I choose to move forward with an open heart and eyes. I had my eyes wide open at The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. This place offers a different time, and a unique reality for writers; think about it, they are coming together with their own kind! A massive group of open and active minds bunched together, all waiting for the chance to share their most prized possession – words.
It was interesting to me, this new way of socializing among writers. A Taste of Eternity is, after all, my first book. People just plop right down next to a total stranger and ask things like, “What are you working on?” “What seminar are you going to?” “What is your view on (name the subject)?” Amazing!
I’m new to this. It’s far more than the usual blanket socializing of the weather, a sport team, or clothing. Because of that, I watched more from a spectator’s viewpoint. Have you ever watched dogs at a dog park, and seen how they run across the grass and head up to a dog they’ve never seen before. Their tails wag in the air, they crouch down on their front paws, stick their back haunches in the air, and start swaying their head from right to left, teasing the other dog. It’s like they’re saying, “C’mon. Let’s play. I like you. What ya got?” Then, a few minutes later, they are off sniffing flowers and flipping over in the grass, rubbing their backsides, squirming back and forth and looking as if they are making snow angels in the grass.
I have been in settings like this, together with my own kind before. I am a former tennis player, basketball, and volleyball player. I am also a female; hence, shopping is in my nature. However, random tennis players don’t walk up and ask me which backhand I’m working on, and ladies at Nordstrom’s semi-annual sale don’t ask what style I’m developing. They actually want strangers out of the store, and certainly out of the line. So I’m sure you understand how new these friendly and honestly interested greetings were to me.
We did a walkthrough to assess the books we wanted to buy. The idea? To trim the selection, knowing whatever we wanted, we had to carry. For the rest of the day. Then of course, we needed to make the vital connection (via the cell phone, what would we do without those?) with my literary agent, Dana Newman. Determining the location among a crowd of 60,000 to 75,000 people is critical. Tommy the Trojan statue it is! He sure stuck out, and we had no trouble finding her. During a quick chat, she assured me she would be pitching my book at the festival. No rest from work for her!
I found the Los Angeles Times stage, all set up for a reading with its shade tarp. On this hot day, its shade was inviting. I noticed with a pleasant surprise that the guest speaker was non other than Pretty In Pink, The Breakfast Club, and Sixteen Candles star Molly Ringwald. Molly has written several books, but this time, she read from her latest, When it Happens to You. At first, I just noticed how great she looks, clean, pure, sweet, not Hollywood at all. I know she’s an actress and I expect her to be able to read the lines ok, but then, she starts to exhibit her story.
She shares it through her voice projection; I’m completely engrossed. When she finishes her one-chapter teaser, I’m like a little girl at the library story time, never wanting the reading to end. Her reading felt like a movie trailer… a tease of what’s to come.
My goal is for my book to be the same, to engross every reader.
After Molly’s reading, I found a spot to kick back. A guy plopped down next to me, and began to eat his lunch. Within a few minutes, he asked more questions about what I was writing and what I thought than most of my friends have asked in over a year. He told me about his years as a Los Angeles Times reporter, the books he’s edited, and his current ghostwriting projects. I told him he reminded me of my honey Bob, and that they should meet sometime; I think they would really hit it off. Then I headed off to the seminar on memoir.
I took in the panel of memoirists, four women who have all published their memoirs. I glean a few great tidbits from their information. The room was packed, almost all the 300 or so seats full. I noticed my newfound friend sitting a few rows in front of me. Afterwards, I saw Bob waiting for me outside the conference hall. I introduced him to my new friend. Just like those dogs at a doggy park, they were pleased as punch to find someone else who spoke their lingo, who totally got it, who had so many similar experiences writing and editing.
Finally, the day ended, with my mind in sensory overload. I felt so happy, my belly deliciously full like I’d just eaten the perfect meal. I was satiated, filled by The Festival.