But I’d told a lot of people I was going (in order to hold me accountable, kind of . . . and to rekindle the fire to keep writing) and it helped set my mind that way. Though my feelings groaned and muttered at me, I managed to get up at 4:30 a.m., drive the 2-1/2 hours to Columbia, SC and make it by 8:45 to the host building, a cute, historical Lutheran church downtown.
I was welcomed with open arms, literally; a big hug from a talented and multi-published fellow writer I knew well, who introduced me to some new writers I’d not met, and we joined the throng to attend the first session, then the next, then broke for lunch.
You never know who you’re going to meet at these things, andI’m not exactly shy, so I launched into conversations with most in my perimeter. Writers are the most interesting people on earth, I think. I love them. Most of them, anyway.
By the middle of the afternoon, my stamina and attention stumbled. I staggered to the coffeemaker. As we all know, a spurt or two of caffeine is usually enough to re-start the party and so . . . reclaiming my status as Chatty Cathy, I chatted up the guy who had appeared out of thin air beside me at the table. His back was toward me. I tapped his shoulder and asked him what genre he wrote in. (A certain ice-breaker at writers’ conferences.)
His salt-and-pepper brows raised slightly, he turned. We shook hands and introduced ourselves.
“I write in several genres,” he said, then added, “I’m the most unknown writer you’ll ever meet.”
My brow puckered. He laughed and then listed title after title, award after award, until he finally ran out of breath. Thank God, I thought, as I interrupted his droning, waving my arms in mock protest. “Stop, stop! You’re intimidating me! I have just one book published!”
He gave me a pitying stare and changed the subject. Or I did. I forget. We didn’t talk much after that. Or at all.
Pride masquerading as humility is a guaranteed conversation-stopper. I had the distinct feeling he was more interested in kudos and garlands thrown around his neck than connecting with a fellow writer bogging around in the quicksand of query-land.
I love this quote my son posted on FB the other day: “When you’re good at something, you’ll tell everyone. When you’re great at something, they will tell you.”
In striking contrast, the much-awarded authors and major speakers didn’t have to blurt out a list. The facilitators that introduced them did it for them. One woman in particular captured my attention, and I made it a point to talk with her. She expressed much interest in my path, and when I asked about hers, she waved her hands and said something about the way publishing has changed, that it’s a fickle business, yada yada.
You can’t fake humility.