“it’s a novel, of course it’s a long story.”
Both my last blog and this one have featured Ted Washington and Shabda Alexa Sanchez. They reappear in inspirational blogging part 2….
Tonight I went to a Local Authors shmooze fest at the Downtown local library of San Diego. It was really nice of our local librarians to put on, complete with a medal, snackage, AND I got my picture taken…although I did not meet the Mayor. The librarians were supernice people. Of course every librarian I’ve ever met has been a sweetheart, most people who are fond of books are fond of sharing that passion with people…it’s been the case since my days growing up in I.B. when I would have to bicycle to the library and feel like a rebel by keeping things way past the due date….That said, this event was a little overwhelming. Strawberries dippable in chocolate=yes. One of the youngest authors there, writing in a genre few people take seriously=awkward. Super out of practice in making small talk=sigh.
Seriously, I was pretty much still in the womb compared to everyone else. It’s a little intimidating. It was also really exciting, people came up to me and they’d already heard about my book. They had seen it and were intrigued. That was a great feeling. It’s also incredible to know words you wrote are available for the city you grew up in’s local library. I can’t wait for the day it’s actually checked out.
Still, mingling takes a lot out of me these days. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an outgoing person for being a poet…but shmoozing is not my style. I was good at bartending in the sense that I could get people to tell me their deepest fears and most desired dreams within minutes…I can connect one on one with people really well. But the elbow to elbow shmooze is odious. You have people coming up to you, and you have no idea what their agenda is. Are they interested in me? Are they interested in my book? Are they trying to get me to read at their next event? Are they trying to get me to buy their book? Sign their guestbook on their internet site? Size me up? You never know….
I’m a curious person, so I left Ted and Shabda to mingle. Hell, I was here- and these were San Diego’s authors…I damn well better meet a few, afterall it’s not everyday you publish your first book and get to mingle with writers. And I did. I met really interesting people. A professor who wrote about experiencing God in everyday life. A Somalian woman who wrote about the lives of five nomads. A man with one of those voice projecting machines who wrote a novel about finding yourself, whose wife was passionately regaling us with age-discrimination stories. A man who wrote about internet dating as the new solitaire game. A PhD in psychology who wrote separate books about anger management for men and women. I met influential writers who are the behind the scenes khans of San Diego’s writing scene. The judges of up and coming books….
My favorite exchange at the event was when my friend Shabda asked a man about his book:
Shabda: “So, are you an author?”
Shabda: “What’s your book about?”
Zach:”It’s a long story.”
Judy: “It’s a novel, of course it’s a long story.”
Poor Ted couldn’t keep them back with a stick when the writers realized he was both an artist AND a publisher. Yup. At one point, I got street cred for hanging out with him. I also got street cred for hanging out with who he looked like. Some guy came up to me and asked me, “So you’re friends with Quincy (Troupe)?”
Me: “You mean Ted Washington.”
Other guy: “Oh, yeah, Ted, that’s what I meant.” awkward.
On our way leaving the library, Ted convinces Shabda and I to grab a beer at a local bar. It was killer. Really cool venue that looked like a dump from the outside. He orders a Heinekin for him and two Alagash Whites for us. Good beer, good company, good music. I start to tell them both about my latest obsession with watching Spanish news and TV in my efforts to hablo por real. I was telling them about a Spanish news report about this British sculptor who does microscopic art, and how he (paraphrasing) only fully realizes what he’s accomplished when he sees/hears people’s reactions to his work. I told Ted that he must feel like that, being recently named a “Mover & Shaker of SD” and having people fight over doing paintings about him. Ted says, “You know Puna Press is doing really great things (he’s being humble). The way I see it, most people are in the water. Most people are just trying to float. And we’re… swimming.”
Shabda looks at me and excitedly says, “That’s like you Ola, you’re a swimmer. Everyone else was so old, and look at how young you are and you’re already published and doing all these things and making things happen.”
Her words made me stop…and just assess for a second, to evaluate, so to speak, and think…. Hell yeah. Here I am with two people I admire and respect, who I see as strong, creative forces…and they’re looking at me, and my writing, the same way.
That’s one of the greatest things about my best friend by the way, she really is my biggest fan. That’s how she introduced herself tonight, as my biggest fan. There’s never any hesitation in her voice when she tells people about how good my poetry is. She’s fully confident that my writing is great, and it’s a big deal to earn the appreciation of people whose opinions matter. As I was dropping her off later, she says, “Thank you for sharing this big accomplishment with me Ola, this is a big deal and I’m glad I can be a part of it.” She makes it sink in-that feeling when someone looks at you and you’re not sure how you are doing…and someone else is sure….so sure, it makes you feel like there is no other way to look at it.
It made me feel like the sculptor of miscroscopic art. It made me realize, wow, I have done a lot so far. I am swimming. I might still have to sputter salt-water here and there, but I’m swimming. And here are two inspiring people who believe in my writing, who inspire me to continue to write. And tonight I met so many more sources of inspiration. San Diego is filled with writers to get to know and read. I feel really lucky to be a part of that.
Sometimes between work and school I feel very one-dimensional. Like all I do is read and read and read, teach, and read and write. It’s nice to stop sometimes and feel like I am doing something magical. My writing is not being written off. There are a few people who love to blog about my poems to their friends, who email them to family because they think it’s cool, and there are a few people who know the cover of my book before I’ve even shaken their hands. Sure, my “estilo” is not for everyone. Not everyone appreciates microscopic art. So what? It’s still rad when a few people do.
It’s a cool moment in my life. I’m pleased I have at least two inspirational friends to share it with.
©ola hadi 2010