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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Aftermath

There's a growing mass of terror and excitement in the pit of my stomach.

Apparently I'm 'infamous'.

Now don't get me wrong, that's not the 'terror' part - in fact I'm absolutely gobsmacked that people remember my name let alone have nice things to say to me, people who are actually 'someone' in the business. Real writers - working writers - have smiles and genuine, good things to say to me; well-wishes and even warm hugs (Karen, I'm not ashamed to say it, you are the best hugger in the world).

But it's in those moments that the terror stirs and that little voice in the back of my head asks that question I dread:

"Why do I feel like a total fraud?"

There in a room, packed with hundreds of scribes I realize just how much I don't know - literally every person I meet seems to know, seems to understand so much more than me; about the business, about the craft, about the world - and yet here are these amazing people shaking my hand. I sit there trying to soak it all in, hoping it'll rub off, trying to keep up and learn what I can.

Still it sits there in the back of my mind, that nagging sense and all I can do is keep on keepin' on and hope I don't screw it up somehow.

In the span of two social gatherings - Karen Walton's Ink Canada party last Thursday and Denis McGrath's Writer Mafia shindig last night - I've had my mind blown, reformed, blown and smushed again. The conversations, the perspectives are unlike anything I've ever encountered - refined through years of experience, heartache and triumph, everyone has their own take on the world and how and why it matters to them.

I'm at a loss to even do it justice but it's created a sense of excitement, of purpose in me that I'm not really sure I could articulate before.

There is a community.

I am becoming a part of that.

And now, more than ever, I want to see it grow and flourish.

Someone said to me last night that events like these, on this scale, just didn't happen before. Writers flocking together to shoot the shit and relax and just be.

To me it seems a natural thing, to want to meet others 'of my kind', to talk with them and listen to them. To share with them (in whatever limited capacity I can at this point).

I don't know why it didn't happen before - probably the technology didn't exist to make large gatherings 'easier' - but I'm so glad that is now.

It's like a whole new world has opened up before me.

As I made my way around the rooms on those nights, meeting others, seeing the smiles on their faces - this wasn't a business meeting, these people weren't trying to score their next gig, they were just pleased as punch to talk to one another.

The more I talked, the more people I met, the more I realized that there was something palpable in the air, an ecosystem created by the accumulated good will.

A safe zone.

A place where none of the kicking at doors for funding or bashing our heads against the keyboard could reach us.

And so, immersed in that environment, I felt empowered. Emboldened (though that may have been the booze). I began asking questions - some of them dumb, some inspired (again, alcohol) but every one of them honest. I asked the little things that were making my gut all squirrel-ly and the big things that were making it hard to sleep at night.

"Am I doing this right? Am I on the right path?"

"Will there be an industry for me to break in to?"

"Why do I feel like a fraud? What is that voice in the back of my head? Am I crazy?"

And people answered them - as best they could.

Simply put, no one's got it figured out. Many wish they did (myself included) but the common thread I've found is that, essentially, we're all striving to make our own sort of sense of the world and how we're supposed to fit in it or fix it or change it.

I'm learning that in many ways a lot of the fears I have are just as (if not more) present in the people I look up to and respect.

And somehow that's comforted me.

I know there's a lot I don't know and that bit of self-awareness is terrifying.

But knowing that there is an amazing community of interesting people out there - knowing that I have time to get there. It's a feeling I can live with, something I can strive toward, something I can smother that little voice in the back of my head with.

I can never know 'everything' but as long as I'm not afraid to ask an honest question, from an honest place, I know that somewhere, somehow, I'll find the answer.

Cheers,
Brandon

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goooooood girl said...
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