Someone asked me yesterday why authors intimidate me so much. It’s true. They do. My friend Anna Yarrow told me last year, “you’ve got to start thinking of yourself as one of them.” I was like…but I’m not, I’m like the gum on the bottom of their shoe, a high schooler with “yur” problems, a stunted juvenile obsessed with fornication. Clearly….not an author.Maybe it’s because I read so much and always have. I met Alice Walker once. She stood right in front of me, talking like a normal person and I just giggled in absolute terror. Terry McMillin, Louise Erdrich and again, sitting there paralyzed. I mean reading Louise Erdrich’s Blue Jay’s Dance while I too was pregnant was like we were best friends or something. I wrote her a letter thanking her for her daily walks she wrote about and then I meet her and I’m like suddenly a twelve year old that runs from the room crying. What a fuckwad.
My friend has a great Anne Lamott story. She saw her once at the mall. Poor Anne was just shopping for clothes in a department store when my friend Rachel was like, “oh, I’ll totally go talk to her.” But in a moment of panic she instead yells Anne’s name through the clothing racks and then ducks down and hides. It still makes me laugh because I would have done the same thing.
I have two editors now publishing my artist interviews. One wants me to meet the authors in person. I was like, um, no. She’s convinced you can get a better interview that way but she doesn’t get it. If I’ve read all their books, followed along on social media, have an ounce of respect for their work, I’ll walk into the coffee shop, see “an author” sitting at a table and then panic and confess I masturbated before I arrived just to let all the tension out. They’ll never shake my hand. It’ll be horrible. I can’t do it.
So the answer is, I don’t know why. I’ve met a few famous actors. Hung out on a movie set once. Traveled the world, been on TV and the radio, not the same. Authors…they’re my gods. I mean even asking if I can interview an author has me stiffled. I’m convinced they’re like, “you’re who from what?” Yesterday, when I met an author I adore, I ended up just talking way too much. Which is my go to 18 hours of most days. I had no alcohol, no chocolate pudding, no privacy and so it was just word vomit after word vomit. Like I’d snorted an eight ball alone in the bathroom and then decided I was the funniest thing ever created. I could not reel it in.
I mean, the interviews turn out really great when I’m done. Both editors have commented they’re exceptional. But they come at a price. Perhaps my own confidence. They’re definitely humbling. Reading an Arthur Bradford piece on repeat…humbled me to my core. Made me wonder why I ever write to begin with. Maybe that’s why I’m doing these fucking things to begin with. To keep me anchored. Remember the Gods. Study their words. Learn, keep moving, keep learning.
Photo by street artist “Ludo”