On 4th Street near 2nd Avenue is the KGB Bar. It’s three floors with theaters (stages) on the first and third floors, with the bar in between.
The reading was on Thursday. It was at the bar. Three readers, one was the uber-cool Sarah D. Bunting, also known as Sars (rhymes with “scares”). She read a short story she wrote. The second was a guy who read the first chapter of his novel. The third reader was a playwright who read one of her ten-minute plays.
It probably seems obvious who I was there to see. And I ended up sitting right beside her. I was sipping my Coke when she sidled up and ordered a bourbon and ginger ale. I like ginger ale, too! We’re SO friends. She started sitting at a table, but after she read, she ended up next to me. I observed her looking at photos on her camera with her (boy)friend.
It was a fun reading, and Sars ended up leaving after the second person’s turn. I thought about approaching her, tried formulating in my mind what I would say. I almost did it. But then she left, and then I kicked myself. I mean, our chairs were practically touching. All I had to do was tap her on the shoulder. It would have been easy. Alas, people. So later that night, after my date, I sent her an email:
Is it all right to approach you in public? I probably consider you high-celebrity status and have been conditioned to let the famous people alone. I sat right beside you at the bar tonight, to your left, and I kept thinking I should introduce myself, I read your blog and am a big fan of the Vine and TWoP, and the short story you read was great but I just didn’t know if it would be okay to say hi. Grr. Unless you were surrounded by bodyguards, I should have assumed it’s never not okay to say hi. I should have said hi. I almost got up the guts. Next time.
Anyway, great read tonight. Take care.
Then, to my absolute delight, she wrote back. Not some shabby message, either. She is a writer, after all:
Aw, thanks for coming! I wish I’d known there were TN readers there (you weren’t the only one who attended, but didn’t say anything to me) — I would have been less unapproachably cuddly with my “bodyguard” but I didn’t think any of My People were there!
Anyway: it’s really up to you. A reader came up to me once in the CVS; I was super-sweaty and gross and had an embarrassing basketful of cheapo orange-slice candy, but once you’ve gone bald to raise money, it’s like, who cares. So, if you don’t feel comfortable approaching me, you’re obviously not obligated, but it certainly doesn’t bother *me*. And especially it’s fine at a reading; that’s what they’re for. That kind of thing is probably annoying to someone like Madonna, but as long as I’m not, like, crying or something, it’s totally fine.
I’m going to try to put some TN meet-ups together after the summer, so you’ll have other chances. Thank you so much for the kind words, and for coming out on a grody hot night, I really appreciate it.
Do I have a limit to the number of times I can feel like a million bucks? I get to feel that way a lot, and sometimes it makes me feel guilty, you know, for hogging all the opportunities. It’s just that part of the process of becoming a writer is to hang out with other writers. Not just the “successful” ones, though that’s awesome, but the ones who are mired in the unending process, and that includes just about everyone. It’s tremendously uplifting. That’s why I like blogging. Sharing is stretching. Stretching is good for you, just ask my wonderful yoga friend, Sarah.
And now, a quote from one of the successful ones, Kurt Vonnegut:
“The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or how badly is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a good friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”
I feel so danged contemplative these days, like I could recede into myself and brood, like the oldest tortoise in the world that’s seen so much in his life. I’m not a tortoise, and I’m not (that) old, but I definitely could retract my head for a while, just to be alone and think.