As a lot of you know, I’ve been doing this dirty writing thing for almost 13 years (in March, hollah!!). I have managed, in those baker’s dozen of years to NOT do a reading. I did submit to a radio interview once upon a time. And last year I did do a podcast with one Rose Caraway because I felt like I’d know her forever and I was in a mindset to say yes to things that scared me. But a reading…yeah, no.
Remember that mindset of saying yes to things that scare me that I mentioned? Yeah, that bit me on the ass toward the end of 2017 when Rachel invited me to read for BWE of the Year Volume 3 in February 2018. I consulted the bearded giant and his words of wisdom were: Yeah! Say yes! You have many months before you have to worry about it…
Time passes quickly, y’all. Because the next thing I knew, it was coming very soon and I had to choose an excerpt. Like a dingus, I asked TBG to do so. He chose, good lord, the DIRTIEST section of the story. But I had been assured by Rachel that light, medium, or heavy dirty was fine.
So, I practiced. I read it out loud every single day the week before the reading. I read it to the dog (poor thing), I read it to my salt lamp, I read it to the Winchester boys (on mute, mind you). I read it until I was bored with it. On purpose.
Let’s fast forward to the day of the reading. I got up and I ran. And ran. And considered just keeping on until I was out of the state. Then I went about my day as best I could all while feeling like a flock of butterflies were devouring my innards.
So, mid-afternoon I get a text: ON MY WAY TO YOU! I am me, after all, so I pay attention to time. Time…more time..even more time…too much time. By the time I heard the thump of his bass outside I was like a Chihuahua on crack. He walks in and I’m ready to say: What was that!? That was too long! But there he is with a bundle of flowers, a smile, and a “There she is…”
Talk about diffusing assholery in a second flat.
Like I said, there were flowers and then…um…other stress diffusers, and finally it’s time to feed the beast! (I am the beast) We go get a burger. My all-time favorite food on planet earth. And then we hit the road. It keeps snowing off and on, which stresses me. (I’m stressed to go, I’m stressed to miss, I’m all over the map!) I have well over an hour to stew in my own stress juices as it were.
Multiple times I suggested that the ride had been lovely but we could turn around now. Every time I was shut down.
Finally, we arrive in DC. Kinda…
See, it was Mardi Gras. And there is, friends and neighbors, a Mardi Gras parade in FULL SWING when we hit the wharf where Politics and Prose is located. There was literally no parking. We were almost to launch time, kissing distance to the venue, and yet…stuck.
I texted Rachel. I fumed. I texted Rachel. I gritted my teeth. I waited. I breathed. I was told “I got you. I won’t let you down” by TBG and I knew that was true. Somehow, our vehicular about face led us to accidentally turn into the roundabout for the wharf. But…while waiting to exit to the chaos again, we saw a car go straight. We looked at each other and said: What if…we went straight…?
Answer: a secret underground hidden parking garage NO ONE on the street had directed us to and yet had plenty of free spots!
We hustled out of the car and into the elevator and up we went and boom! There was P&P facing us when the doors opened.
So, this was a blessing in disguise because I literally had ZERO TIME to stress or obsess or any of it. I waltzed in, found Rachel, hugged her, hugged Lynn Townsend who I’ve also ‘known’ forever but never met, perched my ass in a tall, wobbly director’s chair and faced…a lot of fucking people.
Way more than I expected.
It’s okay. It’s fine. Smile. Look away.
There’s the bearded giant over to the right smiling like an idiot and looking like he might pop with pride as he VIDEOS ME [so many eye rolls here]. Adorable goofball, glad to call him mine.
Lynn Townsend leans over as we chat and says: “We gave you the chair without a foot bar because I know you’re tall.”
True, especially in comparison to my fellow readers who all had heels on in the photos you might see and I am wearing flat boots, I am tall. I am not, however, 9 FEET TALL. Which is how tall one would have to be to stabilize themselves on a tall wobbly director chair with no foot bar. So in a lot of pics you see me swinging my legs, with my legs straight out, or hooked behind the chair legs and resting on the side struts. I spent the majority of the reading tyring to stay in a chair that felt like it was going to vomit me onto the floor at any moment.
Again, probably a blessing in disguise.
Because when Rachel asked me to read, I realized that all the excerpts that had been read were not NEARLY as dirty as what the bearded giant had chosen. If you watch the footage, it’s quite possible you will see me mouth “YOU ARE DEAD” to someone off screen. That would be me talking to him.
I read it, though, dammit. I read it and my hand shook so hard I had to press it to the arm of my wobbly chair to steady it so I didn’t lose my place. BUT I did not falter because I had read it so many times I just plowed through.
And then it was done. And it was questions. And then a signing. The signing, by far, was my favorite part. I met some sweet, funny, charming people. I met a few authors. I met some ‘fans’ which is a word I can never equate with myself but they used it so there it is. But for me, as always, it came down to the people. The writers I’ve known but never met, and the readers I’ve always wondered about and got to chat with.
The bearded giant shuttled me home. I drank a bucket—no really, a bucket—of wine. And that night I slept like the dead.
Despite the stress, worry, self-doubt, traffic, parade chaos, wobbly chair, restless legs, and beating the mic against the arm of my chair several times by accident (sorry!), I am so glad I went. And dare I say…I’d do it again. Look forward to it, even.