I was in a room, surrounded by people who love the written word. People who understand what it is to get lost in a book, to feel compelled to share stories, to feel whole with a pen in hand (or keyboard…). People who decorate their cars with modified “mud flap girl” stickers (she’s got a book in her hand).
On my way over the mountain, I was nervous about attending the event on my own. I wasn’t sure what to expect. At the last minute before leaving the house, I had grabbed just a few of my business cards with my blog address on them. Would I need more? Would I even need these ones? I wondered if I should be prepared to talk about my own writing. I’d heard about elevator pitches – would I need one for Finding Agnes? Would I be able to overcome my anxiety in crowds enough to actually talk to people? I practiced conversations in my head during the drive.
The event was held at the Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences, a building that was only in the planning stages when I’d attended SNC. I gave myself a quick tour, admiring as much of the building as possible. And, possibly, stalling a little bit. I examined the books on display, most of them written by those attending the Lollapalooza.
When I finally went into the room, I was comforted by the sight of June, my former professor and advisor at SNC. This event had been her baby. She was worried people wouldn’t turn up. I’m sure she was happy to see the room slowly fill throughout the night.
Tables lined the perimeter of the room, and I started the night by hovering around the table for Bona Fide Books. I ended up talking to Kim Wyatt, owner of Bona Fide, several times throughout the night. She might be teaching an Editing 101 course in the future, and she’s opening up for submissions in January. Finding Agnes finally has a deadline.
I talked for a long time with Mark Maynard, writer of the upcoming Grind and fiction editor for The Meadow (the local community college’s literary journal). Their journal is run by students and members of the community. He gave me his card and told me to email him about joining the team. Then he gave me copies of the last 3 issues of The Meadow. When I went home that night, I immediately read three short stories from the most recent issue. Phenomenal.
I met Kelle Groom, distinguished writer-in-residence and instructor at SNC. Kelle has published three books of poetry, and June had been singing praises for her memoir I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl. As a thank you for my work on the Sierra Nevada English blog, June gave me a copy of Kelle’s memoir. I’m finding it hard to put it down. In fact, I put off writing this post because I wanted to keep reading Kelle’s poetic prose.
Karen Terrey, owner of Tangled Roots Writing, talked at length with me about the workshops she has coming up. She is based out of Truckee, which wouldn’t be that far of a drive for me. If I can finish a draft of Finding Agnes soon, I might take her up on her manuscript coaching.
The me who balks at having to start up conversations, the young woman who gets nervous in crowds, she was not in attendance on Friday. Instead, I was the writer and editor me, forming friendships and networking for the first time. I gathered business cards, handed out my paltry few (wishing I’d brought more), and boldly approached people and started conversations. I brought up the SNC English blog, requesting current students submit posts for us to share. I asked writers and artists if I could contact them about interviews. The smile on my face was genuine, and I was sad to see the time fly by.
I had a 45 minute drive back over the mountain to get home, and I had plans to leave the house at 4 the next morning to see the Glow Show at the Great Reno Balloon Races. I said my good-bye, grabbed a flyer announcing upcoming events, and began my trek home. My mind was buzzing. I had been inspired. This was the world I belonged in.
My goal for the last 3.5 months of 2012? Finish Finding Agnes, submit some stories to literary journals, and find a way to get my MFA in Creative Writing from SNC.