The Texas Book Festival was fantastic. I missed much more than I got to see, but that’s always the case with an event this large. I heard from several authors in panels that a writer writes because they have to, they have no choice. Dudes, I’m totally not a writer. I have no pretensions to a well-crafted sentence or deep scholarly thoughts. It’s just fun. I read books and I like to talk about them and no one will stand still long enough to do it face to face. If I ever get delusions of grandeur about my need to express myself, just hand me a copy of Faulkner and tell me to shut up. One funny-mean thing that happened at a panel during the Q & A session was that the very, very literary lady who wrote Lord of Misrule asked the really fun lady who wrote Swamplandia! “what it feels like to be heavily edited. I mean, I’ve never had my works sent back with very many revisions, so I’m just interested to know what it’s like to have a manuscript come back all covered in red ink.” That’s literary bullying, y’all. The Swamplandia! lady is probably still rocking in the corner with her hair covering her face.
They did something new at the book festival this year, with night time events around Austin. I went to the Lit Crawl at the Texas State Cemetery. It was obvious that the Cemetery Historians/tour guides were expecting about 30 people, but there had to be 300 or 400. They split us into two groups, but even half that crowd was too large and ungainly to do much more than trot from stone to stone and hear a short story about the body therein or there-under. The stories were really interesting, though, and I would have loved to take the tour that they had planned. The Young Adult authors had their meet and greet at the cemetery after the tour, but I had to miss it. I was dragging my parents with me and my dad was halfway to the car before I could tell him it wasn’t over. There were a couple of Y.A. authors I would have loved to meet, but after you’ve told them that their book was super-great and stood around nodding like a bobble-head for a while, what’s left to say?
I did get to meet Gwendolyn Zepeda at the book festival and I felt about as idiotic as I sound above. I told her I had been reading her blog for a million years, but it’s a million years in blog-time. I know I’ve read her blog for more than 12 years, which is forever. I thought later about the stuff I know about her life and the changes she’s made over the last dozen years and wondered if she ever catalogues how many amazing turns her life has taken? And by taken, I mean that she’s worked really hard and jumped bravely into some unknown opportunities and made them pay off. If you drop even a few pieces about your life into a blog, and you’re as good a writer as Gwendolyn is, at the end of a decade, your readers know more about you than they do many of their real-life friends. She’s a real writer – I just talk about stuff.