Please tell me I wasn’t the only one who freaked out last night, thinking that I’d missed this week’s episode of Project Runway. That, for some reason, my Tivo completely revolted, and didn’t tape it, leaving me bereft and frustrated and Tim Gunn-less for a full week. No? Good. Okay, Bravo, I understand wanting to draw out the excitement of the last few episodes, but at least give us a heads up! I was so disappointed. Oh, well. There’s always next week, I guess.
Also last night, as discussed, I attended Lee Smith’s reading at the Regulator Bookshop, in Durham. And let me just say that it was GREAT. I love when I go to a bookstore reading and it’s, like, a serious EVENT. This one was fab, packed, standing room only. There was wine and cheese and live music and tons of people I knew, and of course Lee was fantastic (she always is). It’s a great thing when you get to see a writer who deserves it treated like a serious rock star. So fun. This is going to be a great fall for local author events around here: Charles Frazier’s new book, Thirteen Moons, comes out soon, and he’s doing some bookstore appearances. Talk about standing room only: those will be CRAZY.
Personally, I love books readings and signings. When I was in college and in the writing program at UNC, I took full advantage of living in such a writer-rich area and went to as many book events as I possibly could, on campus and in the local bookstores. (We have AMAZING independents in this area—Quail Ridge Books, The Regulator, McIntyres to name few—all of which are incredibly supportive of ALL local authors, whether you bring out a hundred people or just a handful. Which is a great thing, since for many, many years, I was on the handful side. If I was lucky.) There’s just something really cool about hearing an author read from their work and being able to meet them in person. Of course, some authors are great in front of a crowd, and others, well, not so much. But even when people are clearly nervous, it’s okay. I mean, just because you write well doesn’t mean you’re a born ham, ready to leap up in front of a group at a moment’s notice. Some of the best readings I’ve been to, in fact, have been smaller, more quiet events, where it’s just the author and an intimate crowd. Then again, I’ve also been to readings that are like standup comedy shows. It all depends on the author, I guess.
Having just come off of a book tour, and a long string of readings myself, I have to say that I just so enjoyed, last night, being able to sit back and just listen. (Excuse the pun. Totally accidental, not at all promotional, I swear!) To be part of the crowd, my book in my lap, and just lose myself in someone’s voice as they read aloud. It was so nice. I think it’s part of the downshift that always happens after a book comes out. I spend a year writing, another year editing and gearing up to promote, then traveling, doing everything I can to get it out to people. And then, when it’s all over, there’s always this little sense of sadness, something wrapping up that’s been a part of your daily life for so long. If you’re lucky, though, you’re already beginning the cycle all over again, working on something new. My friend Marianne Gingher always used to say to me, when I was burned out on writing, “You’re just depleted. You just need to fill up!” And that’s what readings, and reading, help you to do. To go from the craziness of promotion back to the quiet of writing. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before I myself am up in front of a crowd again. But in the meantime, I’m happy to be a few rows back in the audience, listening.