Victoria Flynn’s particular slant on writers, writing, and life has riveted me since I first read her blog, V’s Place: An artists’ cafe. Her open and questioning approach never fails to engage me.
And here she is. Enjoy her dose of courage.
E. Victoria Flynn[/caption]Thanks to the Internet I’ve met a lot of authors over the past few years. It’s done wonders for my complexion. There’s nothing like getting over a case of star struck heebie-jeebies to give a person a healthy glow—especially writers, who tend to be socked away all on their lonesome for huge stretches of time. A little book-scented air will clear your ailments right up.
How intimidating it can be to approach a writer you admire and attempt to strike up a conversation. Once you take a moment to realize we’re all just people mingled together on this same blue and green planet breathing the same air and sharing the same water it gets easier.
I remember several years ago when I attended a Natalie Goldberg workshop in her beloved Taos, New Mexico. I grabbed on to the idea of the workshop as a way to identify my dreams and take hold of what was really mine, but after a night on my own and an introduction to Natalie, I lost my nerve. Oh I could talk a good talk. I was like the camp cheerleader, cajoling my cohorts over bagels and tea.
“Of course you can write,” I said over and over again while spending all my off time hacking myself to death on the page.
I was terrified to approach Natalie. Her mythical ethos was huge compared to her relative size and calm manner. During one exercise she instructed us to sit silently with our eyes closed, listening to our breath while she asked a question of the class. Random answers were tossed out, but they were never the right one. I had it nailed, but instead of speaking, I chanted the words to myself, praying someone would gather them up and run so I wouldn’t have to. The minute or two or five stretched on until finally I spoke aloud. Natalie was pleased. Someone picked up the thread and continued the talk. Natalie looked at me and mouthed a few words. I wished she’d look away.
A few days later in a discussion about The Great Gatsby, the topic of Tom and Daisy’s cold fried chicken came up. Natalie said she’d always remembered the chicken, which brought to my mind a scene from her book Banana Rose where the main character Nell buys a whole chicken and then proceeds to dump it in a trash can. It’s been a long time since I’ve read the book, but that scene still sticks with me. It’s something I would do, given the right heartbreak.
At lunch that day I tracked Natalie down. I said, “I just wanted to let you know that I always remember the chicken in Banana Rose.”
It sounds a little hokey now, but if it’s true, we have every right to say it. Natalie gave me a huge smile and reached out for a hug. She thanked me then and said, “Everyone always talks about Bones. I’m so glad you remembered Banana Rose.”
Time has moved on and I’ve realized that we have so few chances to take those personal dares. Some of us think of ourselves as writers not talkers, prone to seek out the dark corner in the back of the cafe rather than sit up front and raise a hand. So what if we say something off kilter? We have just as much chance of getting a hug as anything else. And anyway, it gives us something to think about, doesn’t it? There’s that time when each of us may get our moment, standing in the warm book-scented air, holding up a freshly published baby for all the world to read.
Got any writing idols who frightened you? Come on. Don’t be afraid to confess in a comment.
E. Victoria Flynn is a mother writer in southern Wisconsin. As the curator of V’s Place: An artists’ cafe, she has a penchant for old typewriters and hot coffee. Victoria is currently writing her first supernatural novel.