I went to a talk by a well-known author recently. I’ve read a few of her books, and most likely you have, too. She’s known primarily for her writing for children, and I had heard her speak years ago in New York at a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference. I remember thinking her talk then was crafted, with a few high points, but, on the whole, less than I had expected.  I wasn’t supposed to think that. She is a god.

My usual set of reactions to hearing a famous author speak ranges from jealousy to envy to bitterness to enjoyment to boredom to “what the hell?” to  “damn, she’s good.”  I am open to being impressed and enthralled, I swear.  At any rate, on this recent evening, as I sat down and saw unnamed famous writer in the first row and thought I recognized the woman about to introduce her, I couldn’t help but be a little envious. How would I introduce her? What would we have talked about at dinner?

There was plenty of hero worship in the room, but all traces of it waned once she started her essentially lifeless talk.  She was more full of bitterness than I had expected of someone who has had hundreds of books published. She castigated a lowly English teacher who had once dissed her work, mentioning that was one of the perks of being a famous writer, that you could get back publicly at those who had done you wrong.  A  librarian who hadn’t bowed down to her was similarly abused. The crowd seemed to enjoy it, surprised perhaps at her honesty  But it left a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t want to be her when I grow up.

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