Spring for me means the Virginia Festival of the Book. To say this writer gets jazzed is an understatement. At last year’s Festival, I volunteered at an event called Poets In Prose and learned a lot. The first thing I learned, what a damn ugly crowd it was. Writers and poets and those who love them are not eye candy.
I was the hottest guy around!
Just kidding (maybe). The event took place in an old time bookstore — up the open staircase to the second floor—kinda like a movie set and with the characters you’d expect too.
It was standing room only: upstairs, down and in-between. I enjoyed waiting on the Festival goers and the panel of moderator and two poets. I walked around with the microphone for audience questions. Very Phil Donohue. Their shtick was interesting enough, although one of the vivacious poets professed utter astonishment at how she, a writer of lyric poetry, could ever consider writing fiction in this lifetime or being a prosier person. At the microphone, she paused twice, contemplating this conundrum with outstretched hand, gazing up to the ceiling and the great beyond. There was a telling disconnect there that made me a little more than curious.
She was illuminating. I discreetly poured ice water for the panelists as it was hot as hell up there as they exposed themselves. And I mean their souls. Seriously, they did an inspired job which I only hold dear being still young in my writing career and wide-eyed. I yukked it up with the literary-minded comers and goers. They, as a whole, are an eager bunch, despite their outward ordinariness and my being mostly their junior. But when telling any random person I’m a writer, the questions popped –and the right ones too– wow don’t indulge me! I’m easily egged on here, ya see? And live under a rock. But the scene was out of my comfort zone, and to loosen things up, I made a day of it with familiar faces along the way, a discreet duck into the cigar shop beforehand, and dinner afterward (a big pot of Cioppino).
I love twelve-dollar cigars.
Oh, remember last February when I submitted that FAT manuscript to that publisher? Yeh, as if I hardly remember myself! Well, I was satisfied at the time with that manuscript and the publisher was a good-looking operation, according to my own gut-instinct parameters. That was during my winter crunch time when I was locked down in my writing space. I wasn’t talking much to anyone as I sweat, and bled, and stared at myself in the mirror too long. Literally and figuratively. And over-dramatized! The Festival of the Book was a long way down the road – a spring thing. In relation to my life at the time and my personal writing trajectory, it was something I looked forward to and wanted to be a part of. So yeh I submitted the FAT manuscript to that good-looking, from what I knew publisher, and who do you think wound up the moderator on this panel?
Feeling prosy. So it was a good day, and yes I do have a sick fascination for what I believe is proper decorum. I wound up shaking the hand of this publisher goodbye and thanking him for leaving the attendees happy. I cracked a few jokes.
Then as gracefully as I could, I presented him a copy of said manuscript which happened to be under my arm.
“Why?” he asked.
I gulped, “Why not?”