The LA reading was a pleasure. Not the reading itself, which always makes my throat dry from nervousness, but meeting the audience and getting to chat and hang out with them. The students at Calstate were wonderfully receptive. Even their questions were inspiring and thoughtful. I met poets, double majors, triple majors, engineers and physicists.
Someone gave a talk on the poetic metaphor, someone else read a short funny piece and followed that up with some fantastic poetry. I met writer Laila Lalami, and both she and her story were great, great, great! Who knew readings could be so much fun? Actually, the whole event made me nostalgic for my undergrad days, when the process of discovery and debate engendered much excitement and everything seemed possible.
I found myself wishing I were staying longer, talking to more people. I’m glad to be going home, but there is something refreshing about meeting readers face to face. Writing is such an isolated activity and I spend so much time blindly stumbling around trying to get things right with little to no feedback, that when it happens, way after the stories are finished, it is such a combination of overwhelming emotion: pleasure, relief, embarrassment, pride, curiosity and a weird sort of detachment, as if collecting specimens in a jar to examine later.
So many different elements emerge that I’ve never thought of. And then there is the great cynical/indifference/shyness barrier I’m forced to catapult each time. I have to believe that these experiences are good for me, as they force me to be less precious and untouchable as a writer and a person.
This whole trip has been a great opportunity and I’m so glad I came. I don’t think I will ever be fully comfortable reading in front of strangers, but this is good as it gets. Can I go on a book tour next year? Pretty please? On a different note – I’m staying in a hotel in Little Tokyo. I just thought I’d mention it, geek girl that I am.