Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Hug from One of My Heroes

I met one of my heroes yesterday! Jennifer Weiner was here in Cambridge on her "Cupcakes Across America" tour, talking about The Bachelorette, her young daughter's refusal to wear undergarments, and her new book, Fly Away Home. She was hilarious, entertaining...and surprised the $@% out of me when she knew who I was.

One of the perks of writing books is that the author community is SO supportive of each other. After my brief career as an attorney (where, let's just say, that was not the case...) it never ceases to amaze me how writers cheer each other on, promote one another's books, and send waves of Tweets/FB posts/emails saying "Get to work! I want to read your next book, so write it!" when one of us is having an "I should have been an accountant..." kind of day. I know Jen has been uber-supportive of fellow novelists, running contests through her blog to get the word out about debut novels, fighting to get better review coverage for women writers in the New York Times. But our paths have never crossed--I simply admired her from afar.

Back when my writing career was just a dream and I was temping in a venture capital firm that was about to be swallowed in a takeover, I had a lot of time on my hands. I spent that time reading Jen's blog. She was one of the earliest writers to really embrace blogging (the archives go back to 2002, when she was finishing her second book, In Her Shoes) and she was this brilliant combination of hilarious, encouraging, and real that I hadn't seen before--it became like my own soap opera, tuning in each day to see what would happen next.

In the years since, I've kept up with her books, and her blog, and admired something else: how adaptable she is. She takes chances in her writing, trying things: murder mystery, short stories, revisiting characters from a previous book to catch up. It takes guts to do that (and--let's be honest--HUGE book sales so that your publisher will let you take those kinds of risks) because it means she's not just churning out the same book over and over again for the same audience. Not everyone loves everything she writes...but she has something in that will entertain almost any reader. Smart strategy.

So last night...I handed her my book after the girl in front of me had explained the complicated spelling of her name. "Mine is easy," I said. "It's Trish."
She looked at me. "Are you Trish Ryan?" she asked.
"Um, yes..." I muttered, like a complete flabbergasted dork.
"It's so nice to meet you!!!" She got up from her table, ignoring the crush of people waiting for her signature, and gave me a giant hug. She asked how my second book was doing, and when I'd be going on tour.
Again, being the brilliant on-the-spot conversationalist that I am, said something about how we'd pushed the tour to September because only Jennifer Weiner can tour in July (which is true, but still...who says that?) She was funny and gracious and said that July is hotter than $#@$ and September would be better anyway.
Then, as I was walking away, she said to the crowd, "You guys: She's an author, too!" She didn't have to do that...it was just an act of huge generosity, sharing her spotlight with someone who occupies an much (much) lower spot on the literary ladder. A reporter from the Boston Globe came over to take my name. It was all surreal, and (I'll admit) wonderful. It gave me a nudge to keep writing, because I want to be part of this amazingly supportive world.

So thanks, Jen...for the untold hours of entertainment and encouragement, and also for knowing how much a moment like that can mean to another writer. Your generosity rocks :)

12 comments:

Donna Cummings said...

That is such a great story! I went to a book signing of Ms. Weiner's last summer -- she's hilarious, and fun, and it's no wonder there was a huge crowd there. It's lovely to see how supportive she is too.

I also love to hear about fellow lawyers who "make it over the wall" (we all just want to be writers, so why do we bother with law school? LOL) Congrats to you!

Ellen Painter Dollar said...

What a fantastic story! I'm a big Jennifer Weiner fan too, and think often of her story of finding her agent. She sent out query after query, and when her agent eventually called her, she said it was immediately clear that she was the right one for her. I don't know why, but something about that is very encouraging to me--that as writers we just keep plugging away and when we eventually make a connection, it will be real and valuable.

Congratulations on being recognized. I hope that puts a spring in your step for a few weeks!

Stacy said...

How awesome!

I've never read anything of hers but now I want to.

Allie said...

I agree with Stacy!

魏江伶魏江伶 said...

let us be happey everyday!!............................................................

julieannaf said...

Totally love the new look!

陳璇竹陳璇竹 said...

好中意你的BLOG阿~加油!.................................................................

larramiefg said...

Very lovely of Jen, though you totally deserve the recognition.

Btw, LOVE the bright blue sky look here.

squiresj said...

How sweet. I've been on Jenifer's newsletter for several years now. It was sweet of her to share the spotlight with you. I have this year decided to become a reviewer and write a review for every book I read. I also share my books with others and pass them on so others can learn of the good writers I have found through the internet. I would not have read some of the books I have read without the internet and one author linking to another's website.

DaniloM_W志竹olff0615 said...

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陳梁雅雯宗翰 said...

堅持是為著某種目的或目標,而持續不斷朝向既定方向努力的一種意念。..................................................

MaNiC MoMMy™ said...

That's so awesome! Jen was the first author i ever met/stalked in Philly when I lived there-In fact I'm looking at a pic of her and me hugging that I keep on my desk! And hers was the first blog I think I ever read! You must have been loving it when she gave you that shout out! (kinda like how I felt when I saw MY name in your acknowledgments! ; ) SO COOL!! xo