Eccentric, Stupid and Insanely Last-Minute (19th of November, 2009)

(I wrote this entry in my diary the night after the Writer’s Night at Subiaco Library for Richard Rossiter …)

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Last night went a lot better than I expected it would!

Editor’s Note: The writer pens this in reference to the crisis faced the day before, whereby she decided that the piece she had intended to read for the audience was both too long and just too strange for the evening. In a fit of unprofessional and amateurish panic, she contacted the coordinator to inform her of this the day of the event. The response was, surprisingly, one of patience and unruffled understanding: ‘Just read something you feel comfortable with, Erin, something that you feel represents you as a writer.’ ‘Heheh,’ the writer thought to herself, ‘Something that represents me as a writer. That means I need to read something eccentric, stupid, and insanely last-minute … now where am I going to find something like that …?’ Suffice to say, she was, at this point, joking with her sister about reading from her train journal …

At 5:46pm, Mel and I drive into the City-of-Subiaco-Council-Place Car Park. We miss the (well-hidden) lane through to the library and I have to do a 7-point turn to get back out of the strange gully we find ourselves cornered in …

At 5:48pm, we’re laughing at the sign stuck onto the witch’s hat in a car bay directly outside the rear entrance of the Subiaco Library. It says: PARKING RESERVED FOR ERIN PEARCE (Boy, do I feel all embarrassed and important now!) Right beside my parking space is one for Mr Richard Rossiter, the author and star of tonight’s program. We press a green button beside the door and a man named Peter lets us in (Mel peeks over my shoulder and, reading my typing, asks, ‘How do you know his name was Peter? Erin? How do you know?’ It’s ‘cause his name badge said so, that’s how!). I’m not quite sure what to say since no one has given me a password or a code … so I say, ‘Hello, I’m Erin,’ and Peter smiles and says, ‘Yes. You’re expected.’ I say, ‘Oh, cool. And this is Mel, my sister.’

At 5:50pm, I’m shaking Richard Rossiter’s hand and he’s saying very nice things about My Scallywag Suit, which he read today because he found out that I would be reading tonight. (He tells me he was the fiction editor for Indigo Vol. 3). I feel sheepish because I haven’t read anything of his yet, and he recognises me from the Indigo launch last February. (Perhaps Georgia Richter introduced us?)

But he’s very nice about this. In fact, overall, Richard Rossiter seems to be a genuinely nice and kindly man. At this point, I’m very excited to be involved in his evening … but then I admit to him that I’m actually still not sure what I’m going to read. ‘Oh, Erin!’ he says, sympathetically. I tell him I don’t want to put a dampener on his night or detract from his work … and he says he’s certain I won’t let him down.

I have two poems in my handbag, as well as a copy of ‘No Place Like Home’ (which, by now, I’m 100% convinced that I will not be reading. Earlier on, I said to mum, ‘I’m not reading that story tonight’, and she looked at me and said, ‘Are you sick?’ I had to explain that I wasn’t cancelling the reading … just that story!) I have one more thing in my handbag: my train diary, containing 4 episodes of ‘This Is The Story Of Levi Livewire’

At 5:57pm, Linda’s ushered Mel and I over to the drinks table where we grab some orange juice. Mel disappears into the children’s library to gawk at the beautiful mural by Shaun Tan. I join her.

At 6:09pm I’m talking to Maureen Gibbons and Deb Hunn, and it’s so nice to see them … but now I’m 10 times more nervous than I was before because now there are now recognisable faces in the crowd I’ve been attempting to avoid/ignore/pretend isn’t there.

At 6:13pm I’m in the ladies toilets, pacing while my hands flick dry. I trip over my bag and say, ‘Oh Lord, please help me with this!’ I stare into the mirror and determine that I will read Levi Livewire, despite what I said to Mel minutes earlier (which went something like this: ‘Mel, we’re the youngest people here. There’s no one close to our age. They’re all nice old people. They won’t understand ‘Levi’. This is gonna be bad. This is not gonna go well… I’ll have to read my poetry instead.’)

At 6:15pm The ‘Emerging Writer’ finally emerges from the toilets having psyched herself up with some form of plastic confidence. We take our seats. Richard and I sit in the 2 of 3 plush red chairs at the front of the room, off to the side. I am so nervous I could spew. Everyone looks so clean. What will they think of me?

At 6:35pm Linda makes a really nice little speech about me and my writing life so far. She mentions my Honours, my novel, my being published in Indigo and dotdotdash, and my being selected for FAWWA’s (hypothetical) Young Writer in Residence Program in 2010, and after each thing she mentions all the ladies in the audience give a pleasant little gasp and I hear someone say, ‘Oh, well done!’ (I’m not sure if they’re saying that for me, or for Linda, who’s doing such a good job of hosting! ) Because everyone knows who I am and are all smiling and looking really expectant of me now, my nerves have reached a pinnacle/point/peak so I won’t remember much of what happens next, but … it goes a lot better than I think/thought it will/would …

I walk to the front and say that I’m nervous. I hold up a little book and say, ‘I’m not going to be reading what I thought I would be reading for you tonight. I decided to read from my train diary, from a story I’ve been scribbling on lately called ‘This Is The Story Of Levi Livewire’. Levi is a simple bloke who has a girlfriend named Bryony H. Marker and a brother named Flintley and he lives with his parents John and Alice. I’ll read from episode 4 …’

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When I asked Mel how she thought it all went, she looked happy and said that they all seemed enjoy the reading. There were chuckles after most of my ‘jokes’ and a healthy little round of applause afterwards (and that same lady said, ‘Oh, well done’ again so I knew it was for me!) When I asked her what I said before I read, she said, ‘You basically put it down and said how bad it was gonna be. You need to stop doing that.’

Anyway, (Editor’s Note: Man, this writer is longwinded!) overall it was a lovely evening! Richard read ‘Painting’ from Arrhythmia, a very endearing and bittersweet story. I loved his character, Emily. I wish I could have talked longer but time did not permit. I bought his book – autographed and all! I still can’t believe I unleashed Levi on the public. I had to explain to quite a few people (who thought they were being given a sneak-peek into an upcoming novel, that I was reading from a manuscript or something …) that Levi only existed in my scribbles so far. Deb said she thought I should ‘do something with him’, so did other people who came up to me and patted my arm and were full of sweet compliments and encouragement.

One lady asked, ‘What was your last name, again? So that I can look out for you …’ I told her ‘Pearce’ … and that she should also look out for Mel Pearce (who was standing beside me at the time) – the brilliant budding illustrator and emerging artist. It felt surreal to be introducing ourselves like that. I guess I felt just a little bit famous or important. Maybe it’s a little taste of what it might be like when I eventually launch my first book, whenever that may be …

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This has already been a gigantic entry, so I will keep other writey-news brief:

I ran another Free Haiku Sale last week. It was a lot of fun. I will probably compile my favourite ones in my new zine, which I intend to print in December sometime.

Mel and I collaborated for the dotdotdash DrawRites collective. Our entry ‘Debris’ was accepted for publication!!

I heard back from the John Marsden Prize for Young Writers this morning. While I didn’t win a prize for either of my entries, ‘No Place Like Home’ was among those shortlisted, so I am one happy little lady today! This is the second time Mr Marsden has read my work, although I doubt he would remember (or probably care!). The first time was when I was in year ten and entered a National Youth Week fiction comp. with a story titled ‘Imprisoned Ever After?’ and got into the top ten. (Heheh … why do I write such embarrassing titles?)

dotdotdash is accepting submissions for Issue 3: Home. (What are you waiting for?!) Go to dotdotdash for submission guidelines now!

Thanks for your patience and support … you really are cool friends to have!

~ Erin ‘Eccentric, Stupid and Insanely Last-Minute’ Pearce~

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