Thursday, June 14, 2012

On not attending BEA

A short time ago, thousands of people in the publishing industry descended upon a single convention center in New York City for one mother of an expo. It's one of the largest "book" events of the year and it attracts authors, editors, agents, librarians, book sellers, bloggers, superheroes, villains, cab drivers...the list goes on.

I did not attend Book Expo America, but being attached to someone who was attending, I did travel to New York at the time of BEA and I did reap a few benefits.

It ended up being one of the most surreal five days of my life and not only because I encountered Spiderman on the street, and ate more cupcakes than in all the years of my life combined.

Possibly the surrealitude of the week could be contributed to the total lack of sleep one can achieve while renting an apartment with friends you only see a few times a year. Possibly it was due to the fact that in said apartment, two blocks from Central Park, the noise of the city barrels through the windows at all hours of the day and night to throw erratic parties on your eardrums. Possibly it was due to the lack of actual oxygen in the air…


Possibly it was the cupcakes.

Either way, three things happened in New York which have altered my life in slight, yet significant ways.

First – In a little coffee shop on Tenth Avenue, I met three incredible women and I'm still surprised the shop survived our impact. The first, my agent, who is as kind and dynamic in person as she is via email. The second, my editor, who impressed me all over again with her passion for the work and BEWARE THE WILD. The third, my editor's assistant, who was insightful and equally as excited about BTW. Sitting there, with a small group of people who had found a way to love this story as much as I do, who are every bit as committed to putting in the time and energy to making it better, I realized again just how incredibly lucky I am.

Second – This one requires a modicum of backstory. When I was fourteen years old, I left my childhood home in Virginia and moved to Yokosuka, Japan. I was only there for two years, but I never made it back to the east coast and eventually fell out of touch with all my childhood friends. Such is the life of a Navy child. But – prepare yourselves, I’m about to say something NICE about Facebook – Facebook (for all its faults) changed that.

I fell back into touch with M and after nearly two solid decades of estrangement we had a four-hour reunion in the middle of New York City. We spent much of the time staring at each other in amazement saying truly profound things to each other.

Me: I can’t believe you’re in front of me.
Him: I can’t believe I’m taller than you.
Me: ……*goofy grin*

We were so wrapped up in nostalgia that after 20 minutes of walking way too fast, I felt the axis of the world shift and suddenly ALL THE PEOPLE were around me.

Him: *slow blink* Yes.
Him: ….we…walked?

Which brings me to the third life-altering experience I had in NYC.

There’s really no way to be tactful about this, but I’m going to try because this is something that may save your life in the future.

If you take away nothing else from my non-BEA experience, take this one lesson: NYC DOESN’T CARE ABOUT YOUR BLADDER.

No. It’s true. And it’s important you know this because discovering it when you’re twenty blocks away from your apartment, all the Starbucks are closing because it’s 10pm, and you’re too stubborn to hail a cab isn’t something I’d recommend.

I mean, it might change your life, but not in a Hunger Games sort of way. Rather, this will change your life in a Trainspotting sort ofway where the world is suddenly very loud and very strange (which is really saying something for NYC), and all the doors are locked and the shopkeepers all look like Delores Umbridge, and then you discover you don’t even have a key to your apartment and no one is answering your texts so WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GET HOME? WHAT HAPPENS THEN???

It is FAR from pleasant.

So, there you have it, my recipe for how to have one singularly intense day in New York City. Passing ife-saving advice on to you is really just a bonus.

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