Just going to share my experience at my first writer type event as a participant (hopefully, it'll not be my last). Last month a teacher at the local middle school called me and invited me to be a guest at their annual Authors and Appetizers luncheon and I felt very honored. The purpose of the event is to expose students to real, live writers of poetry and prose, and to have them meet, mingle and mix with them at the luncheon. In other words, provide proof that authors are normal 'real' people. Now, as far as myself, I still have this strange difficulty accepting myself as being introduced as a 'writer', even after having many interviews, articles and music reviews published; and a novel about to be. I've had friends and relative present me to others that way and I'm always inclined to look around to see who they are introducing.
At this event, thirty or forty students milled around on the bottom floor of a stately old mansion, reserved for weddings, society wing dings and events like this one. I wandered around aimlessly, not knowing really what my duties were, but it soon became plain as a group of students walked past me and one young man said, "Are you an author?" I tried to sound confident and told him that I certainly was one, because I figured I needed to own up to it right then and there. We eight authorly types had no name tags and the students were struggling determining us from the other regular adults milling about.
One proclaimed, "I can't tell the authors from the parents."
His teacher said, "That's exactly the point. See, they are just like anyone else." Then she said, pointing to me,"There's one there." And another group of students approached and followed their instructions to introduce themselves, thank me for coming and ask questions about my writing. Did my heart good to witness these students, dressed nicely, conduct themselves with impeccable manners. Some of them truly seemed to take an interest in my answers, then they were off to the next author on their scavenger list. I found it all quite enjoyable.
Soon after, we took random seats at random tables and I was joined by a group of students, along with the superintendent of schools and my state representative. Since I taught the latter in journalism back in the day, she did help validate my credentials somewhat. We ate a great meal while the students peppered me with questions. I could tell that a couple of the girls at the table had a passion for writing, and I had hopes that no one dashed the fire before they graduate.
After the meal, we all gathered for author presentations, which due to time restraints, meant keep it short and sweet. I was told to come up first. Now, being that I had no book out on the market to read passages from yet, nor a cover design for them to look at, I decided to pull out my 'C' harp and play a couple of blues riffs. Of course, that is not something that they expected at all, nor did their parents, who came out of the kitchen area to see what the heck was going on in our room. They applauded kindly, but I could see the look on some eyes that said, "Okay, your point?"