Welcome to my blog Upstate Girl, (a.k.a Follow Your Bliss Part II), I am an independently published author. This blog is all about writing and the stuff that inspires me to write, the joys and obstacles that come along with the writer's life, and my fascination with the psychology of people and what makes them tick...the human condition, as is...and my love for words, playing with them and making sense of them...and I throw in a few photos from my acre of the world just to make things pretty...sometimes there are things I have no words for, only pictures will do.

*Copyright notice* All photos, writing, and artwork are mine (
© Laura J. Wellner), unless otherwise noted, please be a peach, if you'd like to use my work for a project or you just love it and must have it, message me and we'll work out the details...it's simple...JUST ASK, please.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Homecoming...


Wanting to meet the author because you like his work is like meeting a duck because you like pâté...Margaret Atwood.

I laugh at this quote every time...

I always find it so flustering to meet a person I admire...have never found it too fulfilling because it winds up being this weird thing, unsatisfying...I don't know, like a bad aftertaste. It's always so awkward meeting the famous anyway, they're inundated with everyone else who's with you in line waiting for the autograph and after my book signing experience, I know it's just...tiring. Today, I met my inspiration, Joyce Carol Oates. I found her exactly as I imagined...not at all disappointed...why, blow me down, she rocked!

I normally do not like being in crowds, so I was very brave going alone without any moral support...I also braved the chilly gray day...found my way into the auditorium, settled in and waited for the show to start. The place filled up...and as usual, I always get the person who doesn't have space issues sitting next to me...a very large elder man kept bumping my arm...and then midway through...he fell asleep. Which...I think...can't be sure...JCO looked in our direction and I felt like saying..."No, I'm not with this dude..." And I kept saying to myself (just like I always do when I'm in this situation), why me? Damn it.

Anyway...JCO read poems...talked about the poems...told stories, went on tangents...made fun of Syracuse weather (an easy target)...was amused because people kept laughing whenever she mentioned Donald Trump (so she'd just say his name again just because)...and the New Jersey Turnpike...(you had to be there.)

There was the one person during the Q&A who had to say something about her work being "so dark and depressing"...she again joked about the Upstate New York weather possibly being the cause...I giggled quite a bit (quietly, I didn't want to wake the man next to me of course). I do believe that the Upstate New York weather adds something special to the writers who have experienced it...

I thought JCO was gracious throughout the event, very funny and natural, down to earth. I got in line, bought a copy of her latest...and got in the line for the signing...


Yes, it's official...I'm a nerd...I'm awkward to begin with...being small, light weight, sickly, juggling myself, my belongings that consisted of my purse, long flowing raincoat, oversize scarf, my funky hat, my mocha cappuccino, and I had extra big hair today because of the weather...reading glasses, then add a precious book to the equation and stick me in front of a woman who I have admired since I was 14 when I read Wonderland (during that impressionable time when I found out that I can write about ANYTHING I wanted to...I didn't have to write something "nice"...) Okay, you get the picture...so she asked for my name, I sputtered it out...and she asked, "What do you do?" Ummm...I'm a writer, an artist, and I work here in the art collection. She signed the book, handed it back..."Well, looks like you really got the artist thing going with what you've got on..." I think that's what she said, and she kind of laughed...maybe she smirked just a teeny bit. Ugh..thanks...thank you for Bellefleur, it's my favorite book. I don't think she replied, I left the line, nearly running, trying to find my way out of the building, to familiar ground, back in the bowels of the art collection, back to my office that I fondly refer to as "the cave", back to my work that I abandoned to go dallying on Homecoming/Reunion weekend...25 years ago I graduated from SU (JCO graduated in 1960, two years before I was born.) Then I started to laugh at myself...You nerd. It occurred to me that I kept crouching down while I stood in front of her...she was sitting, and it made me feel odd being so excessively taller (I'm almost never taller than anyone, except wee children)...so it must've looked like I was bowing and scraping...I wasn't, I just felt the physical need to be at her level...

I'll bet she was thinking..."Okay, who brought the weird girl?"

I don't know...but...it's funny...did I leave an impression? Probably she'll get a story out of it for her next reading...(oh god, there was this weird girl...why me? Damn it.) I know I would...I just did...a story that I'll remember.

Maybe she knows...she has an inkling what I go through on a day to day basis, as a creatively driven person...a mind that is running a million miles of thoughts at light speed...I can't write it down fast enough...I muddle along trying to go above and beyond stuck on survive...writing and painting...working a full time job to support my "habit" as I call it...that creative vice that requires certain tools and devices to make inspiration come into being...

Since I've been reading the Journal of Joyce Carol Oates I've felt this kinship with her...I feel less "nuts" knowing that she feels exactly like I do about writing...it's been like looking in a mirror at times. I would love to sit and chat with her...maybe someday...

And so...that's my story...

It's Friday night, raining and dark...welcome back to Upstate New York JCO...

6 comments:

Gwen Buchanan said...

You are good!!...

and funny!! and real!!

The Artist Within Us said...

I loved reading your story Laura. It was truly beautifully written.

I have meet a number of famous people in their private moments like former president Carter and his wife shopping at San Francisco's Orvis store while I was signing my book or Jane Fonda walking down Maiden Lane, also in SF.

I acknowledge their presence but keep my distance as I believe they have a right to privacy.

The first time I ever met a famous person, I was 17 and actually spoke with Louis Armstrong and had him sign an album of his.

One just needs to remember that they are no different from anyone of us, then we do not make a fool of ourselves when we meet up with a famous person.

Enyoy the weekend
Egmont

Pat said...

I think your story was so funny. I kept laughing and indentifying with all your comments.
Also, I agree with the Artist Within us, they are just human. She probably felt discomoded when she heard the words about your clothing come out of her mouth. She has a great skill with words but like the rest of us, there are empty spaces that need care and feeding.
Good for you. I would have been in line as well, but I don't know if I would have had words to say. I'd be mute.

Elisabeth said...

I'm new to your blog, Laura. Presumably you're new to mine.
Your posting here resonates with me. I too love Joyce Carol Oates's writing. It's easy then to imagine that I love the author herself and I've never met her, nor am I likely to.
Here in Australia we have a relatively famous writer, Helen Garner, whom people, mainly middle aged women, either love or hate. I wrote an essay on the experience of author adoration, called 'Groupie' based on my time meeting Helen Garner.
If you're interested you might like to read further see: http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-18430791_ITM
Elsewhere, I also quote Margaret Attwood's wonderful line about the experience of wanting to meet an author. Attwood's book too is a fantastic exploration of writing.

merci33 said...

I adore this grand story with such a nerdyily delightful reality base.

deborah said...

the problem with meeting people you admire is finding out their faults.

i met someone who has much success in the music field, writes wonderful lyrics, to find that person was not particularly intelligent and couldn't hold a decent conversation.

sigh.

i do think it's best to keep our idols at arm's length so we don't manage to disappoint ourselves.

JCO probably enjoyed meeting you as a sincere admirer....