I did a reading at Newtonville Books last week and had the delightful experience of meeting a reader of this blog. Someone I’m not related to. Someone I didn’t even know. I always wonder if anyone reads it, aside from the near-and-dear group that e-mails me comments. So having this person introduce herself was a gift. But then I was wondering what it would be like to have A Following--some unknown number of readers Out There.
And then I was wondering about fame, how people find it, whether it’s something to be sought.
And THEN I was thinking about my own reactions to people who are famous. You know those classic “what writer would you most want to meet” questions. My reaction was, “Yikes.”
I really don’t yearn to meet my literary heroes and heroines. No desert-island companions. No fantasy dinner parties either. (I get a little ferklempt just picturing it--Shakespeare’s coming? Along with Jane Austen, maybe a few others? Forget the logistics--allergies? anyone vegan? You’d really want to sit there and try to make conversation while wondering why Vaclav hasn’t touched his salmon or noticing that Emily’s wine needs topping up? Or even follow the conversation they make among themselves. What was that Gerard just said--spring rhythm? sprung rhythm?)
Maybe I’m thinking that writers are at their most comfortable on the page rather than in the flesh. Maybe I’m picturing how intimidated I would be in their presence, my admiration an awkward hedge between us. The people who imagine these cosmic meet-ups may just be way more assertive than I am. But maybe, too, I’m wondering what it is I would want from the encounter, especially after their written words had already given me perhaps the best of their minds and hearts.
I’ve read of writers who dropped notes of appreciation to those whose work they admired, and that seems fitting. I’ve done it, too. I don't need a closer brush with fame.To respond with the written word to one who lives in the written word, to say thank you for the pleasure of reading, that, to me, would be enough.