At the last moment, a triumverate of advisors come to my rescue. Over the next few days, I’ll write about the 3 writing gods and goddesses who chimed their sage advice in my ears before my public reading this Thursday. (And a big thanks to KL who chimed in as well.)
The story starts with Mike Delp, my fly-fishing, poetry and prose writing, river-loving, primal-acting colleague. He plows into my office, slams the door and sits down.
“Alright,” he says. “What’s this I hear about a pep talk? You need a pep talk?”
“Because being up there at the podium is not about you. You know that, right?”
I pause. A long pause. “Well, yeah, I know that. But it is about my effort. It is about my work ethic, the kind of work I put in, the kind of thanks I want to give back to this place.”
“Alright fine, whatever,” says MD, “but listen. When we designed this building we designed it to be a primal space. Look at it—you’ve got the wall of stones, the fireplace, you’ve got the hundreds-year-old timbers. You’ll be reading in one of the most beautiful spaces on campus and it’s a gathering space. It’s a space to call forth the muse. A place where we watch it all come together. A place where we’re all working in service of that same, bigger, great thing.”
“Yeah, I can see that. I can—”
“And that’s what it’s all about. It’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s not about anybody. Everyone wants to love what you’re going to read so you couldn’t have a better audience…”
He goes on. And on and on. And it feels right to listen to him this way. He’s done more readings than I have hairs on my head. I’ve done fewer than I can count on one hand. I tell him it’s my fiction debut; that I’ve never read about all these fake people in my head. He says it doesn’t matter. And he’s right. Hands down—he’s right.