Wanting To Meet An Author Is Like Wanting To Meet A Duck?

Irving Wallace once said at a writer’s conference:

“If you can get excited about the fact that Victor Hugo was born in the French city of Besancon, and that he died in May 1885, then you are either a pedagogue or a Rhodes Scholar, but you’re certainly not a writer of articles, at least not articles that sell.
On the other hand, if you get a glint in your eyes and begin to tremble when you learn that Victor Hugo did his scribbling in the nude so that he wouldn’t leave his desk, that he once penned a sentence 823 words long, and that he submitted “Les Miserables” to his publisher with a large question mark instead of a letter and received an exclamation point in reply, then you are definitely a writer.”

Are you interested in the lives of the authors you like as much as I am? Do you after reading a good book want to know everything about the writer? Do you read biographies or autobiographies of writers as much as I do? You want to know how they write, when they write. What inspires them? What kind of discipline or schedule do they follow? How do they write their first draft? Do they write longhand? What kind of books do they read? And whenever possible you want to write to them or meet them in person. You just want to surround yourself with other writers. You hear about book signings, writers’ readings, and you do your best to attend the events. You stand in line, regardless of the falling rain or the scorching sun, and you wait excited. You are trembling, thinking of all the things you want to say or ask. When your turn comes all you can manage to do is smile and nod and stare at the author making a complete fool of yourself. And when you get back your signed copy, you hold it to your chest like it’s the most valuable thing you have ever possessed. Even hours after the incident you’re still shaking from your experience. You remember every single gesture the writer made, the way he/she smiled at you, the way he/she held his/her pen. And you remember all the questions you had prepared to ask but did not, could not. Because you were too shy, or too overjoyed to be in her/his presence that you forgot. You can’t sleep, you’re tossing and turning in your bed. You sit up, try to read but can’t concentrate. You try something else, but still… And then one day you come across the following words:

“Wanting to meet an author because you like his work is like wanting to meet a duck because you like paté.” Margaret Atwood

And you wonder.


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2 Responses to Wanting To Meet An Author Is Like Wanting To Meet A Duck?

  1. Subhakar Das says:

    Nice post…like that bit about Hugo writing in the nude so that he doesn’t wriggle away from his desk.

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