It was two years ago.
My heart raced as my friend and I stood in the long, zig-zagging line waiting for them to let us in. It was loud. Crowded. We could hear the buzzing murmurs escalating into excited squeals from fellow fans around us.
“I heard it was sold out!”
“Love the dreadlocks.”
“Will she autograph more than one?”
Finally, the heavy doors creaked open, and the anxious herd began to stampede. We tried not to push — tried to find a good spot so we could see. Listen. Hear.
There was a sudden hush as the announcer came out to prepare us for the show. Come on, already!, said the tapping of ten thousand impatient toes.
And, then…she came on stage in all of her dreadlocked, eclectic glory. The audience’s mouths created a collective “O.”
It was celebrated author, Anne Lamott.
Yes, this was no rock concert. No comedy show. No Hollywood celebrity-sighting. It was simply a large group of book-ish fans gathered to listen to someone whom they had only known through printed words on a page.
But, that was enough.
Readers are like that. They are loyal. They make connections. They yearn to hear more. And, given a well-read writer (which all writers should be), well, you’ve got a groupie you’ll never be able to shake.
That’s because writers can’t seem to get enough of each other. If there are two writers in a room of five hundred, there is a 97.5% chance they will find each other. Yes, it’s that scientific. They will see the glow of inquisitive eyes and glom on in an effort to commiserate, bond, and extract secrets of writerly glory.
I don’t know about others, but when my writing magazines arrive each week/month, the first thing I do is flip to the author interviews. They answer the burning questions that I NEED to know…now! Questions like, Why do you write? Where do you get your ideas? What advice can you give? And, Do you eat M&M’s while you work?
Writers are comforted by these answers, catching hold of those that match up with our own ideas and viewpoints, and (almost unknowingly) discarding those that don’t. What works? What doesn’t?
You could call it a “writer’s obsession.” How could you not, really? The topics don’t vary all that much, and yet, most never get weary of discussion. Most never stop bouncing ideas around. Never stop experimenting. Never stop hoping for validation from their “posse.”
It’s often a lonely venture, this writing gig. But, sometimes, thankfully, it’s not.
Anne Lamott’s presentation was proof of this, as is anytime your words are read and appreciated by those who happen upon them.
I’m embarrassed to say that when my turn came in the autograph line, I was rendered mute. A goofy grin, and a mumbled, “Thank you so much!” was all I could manage. But, Anne seemed OK with it. She smiled, and signed, and bid me farewell.
And, for a groupie like me, that was more than enough.
*Find me on Twitter @amandahoving