Sunday, November 11, 2012

Chasing Shadows

First of all, I have an interview on Elizabeth M Thurmond's blog as part of her Woman Writer Wednesday series. It also re-shares a reading that we recorded in Montreal at the end of Anticipation (WorldCon) in 2009. Good times. The glow of hope was on everything that weekend. And I met Neil Gaiman.

Yesterday I met Libba Bray. Libba Bray is one of the voices that hooked me and kept in YA Fiction back when I had no idea what modern YA Fiction even meant. She is one of the most interesting people I've ever met, and getting to sit and listen to her speak about just people things was possibly the best thing that's happened to me all year. (Yes, even moreso than Maggie Stiefvater—I love love The Raven Boys, but I have a history with Libba Bray's books that I don't have with Stiefvater's backlist.)

Libba Bray wrote a book called Going Bovine, which was one of the best books I read in 2009. It was the book that said to me to put no limitation on concept or plot or fear writing about something that maybe not everyone is going to understand. She also wrote Beauty Queens, which was the best book I read in 2011. Beauty Queens changed the way I watch TV/films and how I read books; Beauty Queens, and Sarah Rees Brennan taught me how to be a feminist in today's world and how to write about feminism in a way that is accessible.

I decided early in this whole interacting with authors at events thing that I would not tell someone their book changed my life—that's why I have Twitter or a blog for. I decided when I met people, I would treat them like people. Sometimes I wonder if that's the right decision—if it maybe disguises how much things mean to me more than I want it to. But I do it because I have seen the glimmer of admiration, and it scares the fuck out of me. One of the most terrifying things I've seen at events or cons is when authors cease to be people and become—I don't know—what's the word for someone burdened with the weight of having all of the answers?

I mean, I want people to respect what I do and enjoy what I write and get from it what they need. But I don't want the burden of being expected to be right all the time. What do I know? Just what I do—and my answers are very much a result of my life and my experiences, which I feel serves more as a cautionary folktale than a howto-wiki.

Also, I meet people and often lose the ability to vocalize. It's very difficult for me to speak to people I don't know or haven't met in person before, which I can hide to a certain extent beneath my job. But get me out of that element and I'm very quiet because I'm shy and because... when I meet someone like Libba Bray, who is so damn interesting, I don't really want to talk—I want to listen. It's not because I think she has all the answers or that I'd even consider asking for any of them, I just like interesting people. I know about me—me and my internal monologue are BFFs like Oliver Queen and his internal monologue—so I'd rather hear about someone else. I have plenty of opportunity to talk about myself because I, too, have a blog.

Hmm... I've completely lost track of what this post was about. Right! Chasing shadows. There's this thing in shounen manga/anime about chasing the back of your sempai or the person you admire—you follow their back and keep your eyes on that point between their shoulder blades because it'll guide you. As I've said before, sometimes you realize that shadow your following has disappeared because you have this moment of getting to stand or sit next to the person.

And it's wonderful and terrifying and awesome. Because they're right there—right. there. You could reach over and poke them to make sure they're there, but maybe don't because that's a little weird. You get to talk and instead of asking for all the answers, maybe you get to offer some—like what a butter tart is or the difference between a Danforth and a Parkdale hipster and these little interesting things you know get added to the conversation with all the little interesting things they know and everyone is just a person.

And it's the coolest thing. If this is repetitive, it's because this keeps happening. It keeps whispering in my ear that this feeling is important, and that I could be doing more to help facilitate it for other people. What do I want to do with the rest of my life? How do I pass these opportunities and graciousness that others have given me? Does it have to take the form that I always thought it would?

I swear this was supposed to be about how amazing it was to have dinner with Libba Bray and how incredibly grateful I am for that, but it seems to have wandered off the path. We are deep in the wood of self-inspection here.  So I'll just stop until I work out what I'm trying to say, but I'm good if anyone is wondering. I'm well. And for the first time in months that is not just a deflection to keep people from worrying, it's truth. I am good and well. And maybe a little lost but very determined I will find my way back.

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