Last night, I met one of my favorite authors, and by the time I'd left for the night, I was convinced he hated me.
This is likely just what my weird brain has conjured up. At most, I probably induced mild panic in someone who had already signed his name a lot that day. But here's the story.
John Scalzi spoke at A Room of One's Own in Madison last night, thanks to my friend Gretchen's amazing author-getting skills. He was as funny in person as he is on the Internet, read from his new book The Human Division, and was terribly gracious when someone commented (not unkindly) that "You look much better than the last time I saw you." ("It's the slimming yellow," he responded.)
So slimming, that Gamma Rabbit.
After his reading, he took questions, and I was lucky enough to be selected. So I asked him what part of the writing process makes him bang his head on the desk repeatedly. ("Starting," he said, "which is why I don't write short stories.")
I was all kinds of excited. I'd been excited at work all day, I barely controlled the shake of excitement in my voice for my question, and then I jumped up to get in line.
Lines like that kind of drive me nuts. It's a long time to stand around contemplating how witty you can be when you reach the front. What can you say that would possibly make an impression on this guy who eats his churros just like everyone else, yet is incredibly smart and is doing what you want so desperately to do and is succeeding at the speed of light?
I'd decided to ask him to sign my writing notebook - the one I've carried around for two years and is full of all my novel ideas, and which would make me die a little inside if I lost it. It is full of possibilities, and I wanted to add inspiration to that as well.
So when it was my turn to speak to the Nice Man, I shyly slid my notebook toward him and said, "This is why I asked the question that I did. I've been working on a book, and I'm on the last chapter, and this is where I keep all of my ideas for it, and I'd appreciate if you would sign it."
Perhaps dear Mr. Scalzi just had on his usual "I'm listening with great intent" face. It's also possible that I filtered his gaze through my Crazy Lens too many times in the following minutes. But I felt as though I received some kind of look.
It was sand under my skin until I came home and described it to Spousal Unit. Then I realized what I had done wrong: I started my interaction with an author by saying, "I've been working on a book..." and sliding my notebook toward him.
I can't imagine how often he's asked to read something or slip it to the publishers while on tour. I think I involuntarily gave him a mild heart attack. So here's my Internet apology to him: I am so sorry for accidentally committing a faux pas. (It counts once it's on the Internet, right?)
I should know better than this - I read enough author blogs to know this kind of behavior is sigh-inducing. But I was nervous and excited, and I couldn't possibly be bothered to remember such etiquette at that moment. (Right? Right?) Plus, I wasn't asking him to read my stuff. So... there's that. But I've been kicking myself since then.
As I said, this is probably all in my head - my anxieties have been more 'splody than normal of late. This is the man responsible for Gamma Rabbit, after all. In all likelihood, Mr. Scalzi's thoughts at that moment were, Oh, she's writing. That's cool, I like writing. And I like churros. Churro churro churro.
It really is plausible.
P.S. When I got home for the evening, Spousal Unit had flowers waiting for me, for no particular reason. So I got writing inspiration, a good dose of laughter, and a smelly love note all in one evening. Overall, it was good.