Sunday, October 14, 2007

Thirty Seconds

Thirty seconds.

You have thirty seconds to convey to someone you truly admire just how much she has touched your life. You have thirty seconds to make an impression on a celebrity who doesn't even know who you are and who will most probably forget about you soon enough.

What do you say?

How do you spend those thirty seconds?

These were the thoughts going through my head as I waited on line to meet Gail Carson Levine, author of Ella Enchanted. I had the book in my hand, all ready to be signed, and could not figure out just how I was supposed to behave. Would I be doomed to be just another gushing fan?

My turn came. I took a deep breath and stepped up to the tent where Gail Carson Levine was sitting at a small table, a black marker in her hand. She looked at the sticky note on my book which had my name written on it, took the book from me, and said, "Erachet, did you like the answer I gave you before?" You see, I had asked her a question during her reading and open forum about what she does when she feels discouraged with her writing.

"Yes!" I replied eagerly. "Yes! I loved it! Thank you!"

And there I went. The words kept gushing out. They didn't even make sense.

"It really helped me! I am a writer, I want to be a writer, I love writing so it really, really--! Thank you! I love Ella Enchanted! I read it when I was little! Thank you!"

I was rambling - blathering on like a complete idiot. I could hear myself doing it but I was unable to stop. Any second now and I'd have to step aside for the next avid fan to gush all over her. I had to make an impression! I had to say something worthwhile! Something she hadn't heard before! Something she'd speak about when she gave future readings! "One girl once said to me" etc., etc., etc.! (I'm sorry, speaking about writing, I don't even know the correct punctuation for the end of that sentence).

I think I failed. That was the only downer of the day. I was incredibly disappointed in myself and in my inability not to act so stupid.

But.

BUT.

I did end up getting Ella Enchanted signed by Gail Carson Levine.

And.

AND.

I SAW JULIE ANDREWS.

It was incredible. I can't even begin to describe the way it felt to see her, to hear her, to watch her, and she was only about ten feet away! Too bad the only people she was calling on to ask questions were about age six and under - BUT STILL.

I loved today. I really, really did.

I just wish I had used those precious thirty seconds a bit wiser.

8 comments:

Ezzie said...

Heh. I think trying to make an impression is possibly the hardest thing to do... especially when you try. :)

haKiruv said...

Depends. If it's a book signing after a talk, I usually have questions during the talk, and ask them my questions afterwards while my book is being signed. Usually I say something like, "Hi, I'm such-and-such and I'm a Computer Science student, have you thought about such and such approach...how would that apply to such and such?" or the like.

I've even got in line just to talk and not have a book signed: I just had to know an answer to a question. If you ask questions, try to come across as light and not deep and hard because they might get offended about being put on the spot. Sometimes they also want me to wait until they get done with the signing to answer my questions later. Deep down, writers/researchers welcome someone to ask questions and test them. You just have to be gentle about it.

SJ said...

It was an awesome day indeed. :)

the apple said...

I LOVE ELLA ENCHANTED.

It's one of my favorite books EVER.

I remember meeting an author whom I really liked (Homer Hickam, the author of "Rocket Boys" which was made into the movie October Sky) and I just smiled, because I was so overwhelmed at meeting him in person. Luckily he broke the ice by asking me and my sister about ourselves (and we were some of the last people in line!) and then we started jabbering away. BTW, I think it's worth it to wait til towards the end of the line to talk to an author because you can get more than just a few seconds since there aren't so many people behind you.

And don't worry - hey, she remembered you from asking the question (what was it?) during the forum!

AND Julie Andrews. That's sooooo awesome. Sigh. When I see you in person, I MUST hear more about this day!

Gail said...

My husband has a google alert on my name, so he found your blog and sent me the link. I remember you in a good way. Please don’t worry. Good luck with your writing. And, yeah, it was quite amazing to be near Julie Andrews and hear how gracious she was.

haKiruv said...

WOW!

Erachet said...

Ezzie - Most definitely.

Hakiruv - Thanks for the advice! This was the first time I was ever at a book signing, so I was sort of in a daze.

SJ - IT WAS.

Apple - I love Ella Enchanted, too! I love it because Cinderella FINALLY has, you know, personality. Also, I WAS at the end of the line. I had to plead with the security people to let me on it, but then a few people got on behind me. Not many, though.

Gail - Wow. Thank you so much for your comment! It really means a lot, especially because I'm an aspiring author and it's so encouraging to actually see people who've done it already - and done it well. It's like, yes, this is possible! I've also started reading Writing Magic which should definitely be required reading for all young writers. :D

Stam said...

i'm a biiig fan of hers & ella enchanted also(the movie stunk btw)
i have a chance to go to a signing of another fav author in a few weeks, but have no clue what i'd say and what the point would be....