Found In A Crowd

I spent a few hours at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association’s booth at Northwest Bookfest this weekend, helping to educate passersby about the PNWA and Author. As an added bonus I got to catch up with Bob Dugoni, Deb Caletti, Karl Marlantes, Erica Bauermeister, Jennie Shortridge, and Kevin O’Brien, among several others. Not bad for one afternoon. I love mingling with people I know and don’t know, but there is a particular position one must adopt when manning a booth at a festival. Festers drift by and glance at your sign and try to decide if they want to commit themselves to a full investigation. Numerically speaking, most do not. It is as if you are a book with eyes and a heart watching shoppers from your space on the shelf. To take personally their indifference is to condemn yourself to a day of rejection.

And so you must both invite these strangers with an open heart while simultaneously granting them the freedom not to give a fig about your writing organization or your magazine. It’s good practice for a writer. It is tempting to despair when person after person walks by. The more that walk by, the less interesting you feel. It’s one thing to be uninteresting, but must I also make such a public spectacle of it?

But then one person does stop, and she mentions she has just finished writing the first draft of a memoir and she listened to your interview with Alexandra Fuller, and now you are talking about memoirs and memory and writing and you don’t care about all the people who weren’t interested. Now you are interested. Life is interesting. Look at all the interesting people looking for what is of interest to them.

What a perfect time to leave. It is easy for me to lose track of who I am in crowds. It is easy to try to transform myself into something glittering and happy and interesting, and I always know how hard I have been trying from how tired I feel. Good then to leave the crowd feeling rested. It is always so deceptively easy to make a life that feels like you.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.

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