I returned last night from what is apparently (as long as I am employed and can afford it) a yearly pilgrimage to San Francisco to attend events at Litquake. If you don’t know Litquake, allow me to explain: it’s a week-long festival celebrating books and writing across the City and sometimes even bleeding out beyond to the Bay Area in general. It’s a chance to talk shop for those of us who don’t have folks to talk shop with in our places of literary exhile, and it’s a chance to hear how we could leap across the chasm and maybe get published like the fine folks on the stage. There’s also lessons that branch out beyond writing, the addresses to aspects of humanity, and I’m patient with those ideas and connections, but I have to admit that I am selfishly there for the writing.
Sadly, I’m selfish in other ways as well; with my living situation I do my best to have four to five days of privacy. I tried to break the rules on that this time by trying out a hostel (it was on the bucket list), but that didn’t work out for reasons too long to go into here, so I found a cheap but air conditioned chain hotel to stay in on 5th and Mission, directly across the street from the San Francisco Chronicle. The hotel balanced between the neighborhoods of Union Square and the Tenderloin, but I found that more inspiring than frightening. I would go out in the mornings and sit in the window bar of Blue Bottle Coffee and people-watch. Not all of the people were beautiful. That was a relief.
Why would I not meet or talk with other writers while I am circulating a writing and reading festival? Keep in mind, I was not a monk; one of the attendees to the reading/panel I attended on Thursday night visited with me briefly outside of the Contemporary Jewish Museum. It bears repeating: I went to listen, and I went to write. If I ever publish a book my publisher will probably hate me, for I will be the wallflower scribbling off to the side instead of attending the book launch party. I have the desire to write, not to talk and socialize, and if there is to be talking and socializing involved, someone else will be sharing (not utilizing me as a therapist, but sharing), and not me. I share by asking questions and seeking to know more.
Today I’m re-assembling myself from the trip: doing laundry, taking care of tasks, finding places to put the books that I bought while I was in a nest of independent bookstores. I’m also processing things on paper, sorting my notes from the trip and adding more thoughts. I happened to hop on social media for a little social time and found today to be a day where everyone is stating why they write. I write because writing is the way I best connect with the world, writing is the medium that I find the most comforting. I write because I know that my social skills aren’t great, and that I am tired of trying to fit in. As a writer, I can create a world in my genre, which is described by the world outside as snooty literary but described by me in this world I’ve created as the stuff that strives to go one layer deeper.
I write to know that I’m not alone…even if I’m the only person in the room.