Friday, July 18, 2008

Red Room

A few nights ago, I went to an event that might be every writer’s worst nightmare: A party where I didn’t know anyone.

The party was hosted by Red Room, a networking site for writers that I’m a member of. I expected a quiet little salon full of people dressed in black scribbling in notebooks and looking at their shoes, but to my surprise, it was a pretty lively event at Tosca, in North Beach.

Once I got over the shock of seeing so many extroverted writers, I did begin to enjoy myself. There was one really fun aspect to the party, and that was that the cost of admission was one signed book. I dutifully signed a copy of The Best Women’s Travel Writing 2007, which includes my Thanksgiving in China story. That felt like cheating a little bit, but I don’t have a book of my own, so it had to do. When I got to the party, I dropped off the book, and got a receipt that entitled me to take someone else’s book on my way out the door.

At the party, I talked to a few people, but not too many because it was pretty loud in the bar and I am not good at high-volume conversations. As I was getting ready to leave, though, I picked up a book by Daniel Handler, one of Red Room’s local celebrity authors. Having his book (Adverbs) in my hand emboldened me to speak to him, so before I left, I found him by consulting the author photo on the back of the book. We had a brief chat, and my impression is that he’s a really nice guy. He started the conversation by apologizing to me—when I walked up to him, he seemed to think he was in my way. I was charmed to see that, big shot though Daniel Handler may be, he still assumes that people approaching him are only doing so in order to get around him.

So I consider the party a success, though I can see I still have some networking skills I could work on, like introducing myself more confidently and having an easily articulated summary of my work ready.

Oh, and I guess I’d better write a book, too.

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