I do remember standing in line with Jags, Peabo, Dale, and his friend and listening as Peabo was accosted by a strange woman who said she had studied with Saul Bellow. I might have spoken to people while I was in line, but if I did I have no recollection of what it is I said. I was much too busy being anxious and wondering how I was going to introduce myself to Ethan Canin (or as Peabo has dubbed him The Hottest Man Alive).
Meeting someone you respect and admire is hard, meeting someone you respect and admire who turns out to be just about the most attractive man on the planet is the kind of hard that needs a new word to accurately describe it. Seriously, the man is so attractive that it kicks you in the pit of your stomach which causes a warm glow to radiate to all your nether regions.
On the ride home, during an interminable detour, Peabo and I talked about how Canin is a manly writer. “It’s not like he’s one of those sensitive emo boy writers who are the scourge of the Earth,” I said.
Then she said something that I will not reveal to protect the wanton. However, what she said was so wicked that I forgot what colors meant and stopped at a green light.
After standing in line worrying about how to introduce myself, I went with the old handshake, smile, “I’m Jodi from I Will Dare” bit. It seemed to work. I then went on to tell Ethan Canin how the e-mail he sent made my summer. That’s when he said he was nervous and forgot how to spell ‘helping.’
It was great having my friends there, because it gave me to the courage to speak. Alone I am a mouse but with them I am a mastodon. I mean what else would explain the fact that I told Ethan Canin not to let his Web site be shitty? And, because that wasn’t enough I also gave him tips on how to write a blog and get feedback/comments. Because, you know, he’s the guy with the six books and I’m the doofus with the domain.
The other great thing about having friends with me is that we got to occupy his time longer while we all got our books signed. He talked to us about writing and how tough it is, how he admires The Loft and the community it provides struggling writers, and how getting published will inevitably be a let down for us.
If I could have, I would have pulled up a chair and sat next to him all night talking about books and writing. But instead, I went to eat pad thai with my friends and randomly shout “I MADE ETHAN CANIN NERVOUS.”
It was a night of sheer bliss. If you weren’t one of the thirty or so people who were at on Wednesday night, you can listen to Ethan Canin on MPR’s Midmorning program with Kerri Miller. I am listening to right now as I type and it’s wonderful. I could listen to just about anyone talk about writing and their writing process all day.
In fact, he covers a lot of territory in the MPR piece that he talked about at Magers & Quinn, including:
- How he finds coastlines inspiring
- How fucking hard it is to write
- That you get to be a “real” writer when you have to write books to pay the mortgage (I like that he says have to instead of get to)
- How even though America, America is set in upstate New York, he’s never been there
- “Part of writing is being emotionally honest” (HA! This is been my biggest complaint in a lot of my memoir reading and even some fiction, where it doesn’t ring true)