Dear Elders of Fiction,
I hope you don’t mind me calling you that. It’s just that I’m still a baby, really, and you have been writing for a long time. I just wanted to say how much I like listening to you. Every year, I go to the LA Times Festival of Books and I listen. I listen to you talk about feminism and board games and switching mediums and raising children. I listen to two-person interviews and four person panels. I listen because there is so much I don’t know yet, so much I want to have for myself.
Yesterday, I listened to Margaret Atwood and Orson Scott Card and a panel of science writers that included K.C. Cole (okay, so that should read “Elders of Fiction and Nonfiction,” but let’s not get too prosaic here). The thing I took away from this year is the idea that we make up our lives as we go along. I listened to all of you and I heard you writing lives of joy. You are, if you don’t mind me saying so, kind of geeky people. I am too. You talk about ideas with such affection and excitement and baffled joy. Look, there are so many neat things in the world, isn’t that swell? I think so too.
I’ve been having a hard time lately. I needed someone to tell me that I can write a better life for myself. I needed someone to tell me that the real world is really a fiction we make up. I needed someone to tell me to break the rules and do what I want. Maybe none of you really said any of those things. Maybe the themes you thought you were talking about are not the themes I heard. I needed to hear them, though, and there you were. Full of joy. Undeterred. Cranky and geeky and in love with your work and your world.
I am making a place for myself in the world of fiction. It starts at your feet, listening to stories. I love to listen to you. I love what I hear. Thank you.
ETA (8/14/13): For f**k’s sake. This is what I get for living under a rock. If it seems odd that one of those people is on my list of folks I liked, well, that’s because I’ve only read nonfiction writing advice from that person, live under a rock, and always hear about everything six months to a year late. (Or longer…)
This happens with embarrassing frequency to me. In the future, I would like people who pass a certain batshit threshold to wear a friggin’ sign or something, okay? Let’s call that threshold “paranoid, vicious, and incoherent.”