The LitFest Blog
I feel like I’m on a movie set. I just finished my workshop. I’m being gently whisked away by a lovely volunteer from the hall to the table dedicated for book signing. I’m behind the scenes, walking quickly as I sign a copy of my book (for a considerate friend – but that still counts, right?).
For all of the five seconds it took me to walk to the book signing table, I feel like an author. Someone important, distinct, special. I think about having to sign so many books for all the wonderful people who actually pay money to read my book, who value my words, my effort. I think about how I would need to make sure that I always give them something of value. That I must always remember to value my readers when I’m so rushed for time, cameras in my face, and pens pointing at me waiting for my autograph.
For all of five seconds. But then I reach the book signing table. I sit behind the banner that announces my name. I discover that nervousness and excitement sits at this side of the table, too. The sharp absence of the masses seeking my autograph bursts my importantness, specialness and authorness. After a few minutes, and a single book signing (thanks Lor), I get bored of trying to look sophisticatedly nonchalant and I revert back to mischievous, gypsy-spirited me because sitting only two chairs away to my right is one of the many wonderful authors during the festival. I sneak closer one chair at a time. We talk, we laugh, we pose like authors pose on the covers of those serious books; you know, chin resting on crook of hand, looking into the distance, strong, silent. We have a good laugh. You know, you’re normal,” I say to him. “Well, umm. Very talented, but normal.”
I think back to all the authors I met in the green room, the hall ways, during dinner. I think back to all the conversations. They, too, were nervous once at giving a talk, apprehensive at signings. They wondered if they had the right to write when they were not suffering as much as others were. They were disappointed, frustrated, rejected. They had doubts and worries. They wrote, and rewrote and deleted their work.
Ten years ago, I would not have even dared to dream about being here. It doesn’t matter that only two people asked me to sign my book. I’m here for myself, for my book, for one reader, for ten. For future readers. For future books. I’m here to be humbled by the importance of being normal, and by the fact that my work, my creativity, is a project in process that is not just about me but also about everyone I try to reach and everyone I do actually reach.
Plus I now have a collection of great photos!
Fadwa Al Qasem
Author, artist, gypsy, self-expressionist!