On Saturday morning I walked into a conference center in Long Beach, California, and my jaw dropped. Sure, I knew I was speaking at a conference. But I didn't know it would be like this: 800 passionate women readers. Apparently the Literary Women Festival sells out in 24 hours.
It might sound as if I'm impressed with myself for being part of this - well - I AM. That's ROCK STAR literary culture, you guys. A literary event for women selling out in a day. Unapologetic girl power. The type of grassroots effort that keeps literary culture afloat. I was totally honored to be a part of it.
Side note: Californians like wine, and I like people who know how to integrate drinking and books.
Side note 2: Took Vermont-pale skin to Cali. Saw the sun and almost wept with joy.
I got to hear Dana Spiotta talk about the relationship between the novel and technology, the path of its alleged obsolescence. Michelle Huneven gave a dryly funny and brilliant talk about where ideas come from, and how long you might spend attending to them. Julie Otsuka delivered a stunning discussion about Japanese picture brides and internment camps and her novel The Buddha in the Attic. The smart and brave Amy Waldman talked about moral complexity and politics and pulling inspiration from news headlines. Charlotte Rogan and Eleanor Brown were also in attendance, and both lovely, though I didn't get to hear them speak, as I was rattling on in another conference room about my chain-smoking grandma, Allan Gurganus, empathy and mirror neurons.
Side note 3: Delivered the last line of my speech with Ugly Cry Face by accident. Thinking about my grandmother dying of cancer and painting saws on her back porch, what I learned about giving yourself permission to make art, no matter who you are or where you are in your life.
It's only 40 degrees cooler and snowing here in Vermont. I won't cry. I. Won't. Cry. I'll just plan my garden.