The other morning I ran into Local Writer. No, not our famous local writer, though one does see her around town. You likely haven't heard of this other one, unless you're local and connected to the literary scene. Her one novel appears to have stayed clear of the major selling platforms-- though I acknowledge that lucrative writing and quality writing often book separate rooms. Frequently, they're not even staying in the same hotel. In any case, she sometimes organizes salons of a sort, writers and artists and performers. These events do mix things up a fair bit. Local musician playing an instrument here, local actor delivering a monologue there. Hey, it's her salon. My wife and I, in the past, have sometimes been invited. I write. She sings. Local Writer asked about my wife. She also mentioned that, with COVID restrictions lifting somewhat, she'd held another event, and noted how well she thought it had gone.
I shrugged. "I'm glad. It's the first we're hearing about it."
"Oh, it was just writers this time."
Now, I have received positive responses to my writing there, especially my more literary pieces. I always felt, however, that we received the invitation because of my wife's singing, which I acknowledge a very good reason. My wife disagrees and notes that I bring diversity to the slate. I suspect this encounter puts the debate to rest. I don't feel I need to be on the roster. However, I am, absolutely, a writer. Tainted, it seems, but a writer.
Why tainted? I can only speculate. I often write, you know, science fiction and fantasy. My words even sometimes generate revenue, though I wish the numbers on my royalty cheques were rather larger than they are. In the end, Local Writer's reasons are her own. She seemed oblivious to the insult, and we continued on our respective paths.
But other things happened this week, too.
A local teen approached me: shorn head, black skirt and platform boots. In short, the girl looked quite a bit different from the last time I saw her. I wasn't too surprised, as her mother caught me up a bit when I spoke to her last.... Spring? Summer? The pandemic has muddled my sense of time. She's reading The Con for her independent project in English class, and wants an interview.
"It was awesome."
That is worth ten invitations to any local literary assemblage.
I'm also appearing at a con in Indianapolis this weekend. Okay, I'm sitting on my arse at home, but the event is unfolding online and at the Indiana Convention Center. I had my first panel Thursday, a reading Friday, and two panels today. I also attended the launch of Hugh A. D. Spencer's Hard Side of the Moon. My copy arrived a week ago and I had hoped to read it beforehand, but work has been busy and I've only managed the first hundred pages. It deals with college radio in the 1970s, robotic creations, and a secret base on the lunar surface. For the record, I'm really enjoying it, and will give it, almost certainly, a rave review.
I ran into the author last night at the convention, and we spoke for a bit-- onscreen, while sitting upon our respective arses in our respective homes. This is his first book to be released in hardcover, and he says it makes him feel like a "real" writer. His son was also present, and they performed a chat, partially tongue-in-cheek, about catching up on each other's days, as they sat on their respective arses in front of cameras in different rooms of the same house. The pandemic has limited us in so many ways, but it has accelerated some of the weirder aspects of online communication. I was reminded of a play I workshopped twenty years ago, where we had two actors talk in one short scene on cellphones. They stood in front of the curtain, as the crew quietly changed the set. They actually phoned each other, keeping the volume low as they stood on opposite sides of the apron. People in the front row could hear that they actually made the call, and at least one person later commented on it as symptomatic of the wacky hi-tech times in which we live.
Neither Spencer nor I are raking in a fortune or seeing our work adapted for the next Amazon Prime or Netflix movie. I don't think either of us have penned much poetry lately. But dangit, we're still writers.
At the launch, I asked him if his hardcover novel has netted him any invitations to literary salons. He said that it had not, but he remains hopeful.