Friday, July 17, 2015

This Means Something

The Saskatchewan Festival of Words is happening in Moose Jaw right now. It's a four day literary festival - think readings, interviews, panel discussions, workshops, a slam poetry contest, shows (music and theatre) and anything else that you can possibly imagine a bunch of writers and poets and word nerds doing when they're scraped together from all the corners of Canada and plunked down in a small town for a weekend.

Last night, there was this thing called a - ready for this? - Readception (When I told Barclay about it, he said, "Sounds fun. Is it before or after the Novel Tea?"). There was cheesecake, first of all, and there were also six authors who each had three minutes to read a small portion of one of their books and say a few words. I've been to this event before, two years ago, but that time it was very different. Not, actually, because it was different, but because I was different. Or, I was in a different place.

Life-wise, I mean.

I was pregnant, first of all. I was just starting to tell people. I was anticipating motherhood. I was crib shopping and asking my sister-in-law grossly personal questions about labour and child birth and epidurals. I was excited about it, overwhelmingly excited, and I saw everything in life through the lens of this new beginning.

And this time, last night, two years later, I was on the verge of another new thing. A very different kind of new thing. I'd written a book, a whole novel. With people in it, and some metaphors, and a plot (It might not be any good at all, but the point here is that I did it). I was just starting to admit it to people. I was anticipating this life-long dream I had coming true. I feel like some people might think it crass to compare the upcoming birth of a baby with a silly little hobby, and I know they're not the same thing, but, also, YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW. Or maybe you do. But, like I've said probably a million times before on this blog, this is just something I've always, always wanted to do.


Last time, I'd watched with a passive kind of interest as the authors took the stage and shared their words. There were one or two that I loved, but I was a tough audience. I enjoyed the evening immensely, but was okay with the program being short and sweet.

This time though, as each author was announced I was on the edge of my seat like I was reading a thriller. As the lists were read of the books that they had written and the magazines they'd contributed to and the other various and interesting ways that they used their skills, I leaned in. As they walked toward the stage with the confident, comfortable air of people eager to share their words, proud of their work but not arrogant about it, I found myself wanting to go up there too.

Which is weird and crazy, because I can't think of anything more terrifying than reading my very own, very personal words to a room full of literary snobs. But still, I thought to myself: wouldn't it be cool? To be one of those authors up there? Reading from my book?

I was, as they say, inspired. The kind of inspired that makes you feel like your legs are made of straw and your stomach is full of helium. It's not very comfortable, but it's also quite nice. I love hate it.

We'd been given raffle tickets as we entered the room. The last little event of the night was the draw for a door prize. I, full of inspiration and daydreams and naivety, held my ticket with both hands and thought to myself, rather dramatically, If I win this, it means something. Because I'm five. I quickly laughed the thought off. I know, I know, that that's not how life works. But my brain just gets so caught up in these things sometimes. And I feel like it's probably okay to let your imagination run around in the confines of your own head sometimes. Right?

So, anyway, the lady read the numbers off, and I mouthed them right along with her. "Nine," we said. "One, Four." We took a breath and paused for dramatic effect. "Three, eight, seven."

And then I said, right out loud, startling Hannah, who sat in the chair to the left of me, I said, "WHAT!?"

I know it didn't mean anything, but still. I stood up, and I walked to the front of the room. In front of everybody. Just like the six legitimate authors had done before me. For a very short minute, I pretended that I was one of them and that I was going to stand behind the podium and say, "Hi, guys. It's so great to be here. I'm going to be reading a small chunk out of my first novel, Violent V. I, uh, I really hope you like it."

It felt like I floated to the front of the room, but it was probably much more awkward than that. I am not a graceful human being. I headed straight for the podium, and at the last possible second, I turned to the man standing there and accepted my big blue gift bag. I bet he was thinking, Wow. I've never seen someone so excited to get a frisbee that says SaskPower on it.

What can I say? It's very nice, durable plastic.