I've been reflecting on the last Writers & Illustrators for Young Readers conference I attended and realized I didn't really make lasting friendships. In fact, I haven't made any long lasting friends with any of the people in this or last year's classes. As a rule, I seem to get along better with the published authors than the unpublished ones. I'm wondering if you have any insights into that.
You've been to a lot of conferences, I'm sure, and seen people like me hit the social fan—ego all bespattered. Perhaps I'm doing something wrong. I know there's no magic formula for making friends. Certainly my classmates receive me warmly when seeing me. I just didn't click with any of them. Somehow, I'm missing that crucial last step to get on the IN list.
Do you think I'm exaggerating? How could I forget my favorite moment during the last conference when my classmates all said they'd meet at Zupas for lunch. When I showed up, no one was there. Plans obviously changed at the last minute. I suspect no conspiracy. I just wasn't hooked into their world enough to be let in on the change. Or maybe I didn't hear correctly.
I plan on channelling that moment into a book. Nothing like reliving High School to make young adult novels seem more realistic. At least I didn't get pantsed.
So many of my wonderful attributes could be factors. I have ADHD, as you may have noticed, and could be missing large planetoid-sized social cues—cues like "Hey, let's go somewhere else instead!" while I was preoccupied looking up the first address on my iPhone. Then there's my chronic motor ticking which can be off-putting for some people. Sad, but true. And let's not forget my terrible halitosis (I do stock a ready supply of mints, though).
More likely, however, it is simply the fact I am not at ease around them. I worry if they will like me or find me interesting. I don't worry about that with published authors. I don't expect friendship with them, leaving me pleasantly surprised when we get along. But I do expect friendships with my classmates. And, coincidentally, policemen who pull me over. Maybe desperation is palpable—or at least it causes unsightly underarm stains. I hear those are ginormous turnoffs.
Then there is my wonderful conversational ability to consider. I speak deeply when light conversation is in the air, and speak lightly when more serious matters are underway. I also often feel like a tourist in a foreign land who forgot to study up on the local language and is forced to shout "WHERE…IS…THE…MEN'S…ROOM?" while pantomiming embarrassing gestures to get my point across. That can't be helpful.
Perhaps if I convinced myself that they were all famous authors, including the policemen, and stopped worrying about finding a new bestest bosom companion ever I might get along with them better. Maybe my apprehensions and worries are my greatest obstacle.
Or maybe there's nothing wrong with me at all. Sometimes people just don't click. One thing I've learned from you is that I needlessly worry about things out of my control. They eat at me like hungry horseflies thanks to your influence. This could be one of those moments. After all, I do get along with the authors, though they didn't invite me to lunch either.
If I choose to go to another writer's workshop in the future, I'll keep these thoughts in mind. Next time I'll treat everybody as a celebrity and be sure to make lots of friends, especially if I bug them for their autograph in the restrooms. They won't mind. Remember that time twenty years ago when I followed Michael Keaton into the SLC Airport restroom? He was all smiles, so I know everything was OK.
Thanks for making my life interesting. After all, if I do eventually get to the end of my novel I wouldn't want to think that networking my novel into reality was going to be a snap.
Your devoted victim,
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