I’ve been sitting here for hours starting at the blank screen, trying to figure out how to write this. I think I’m afraid to leave out something important, or afraid that I’m not going to be able to accurately portray how amazing this woman is. Please, forgive me if I babble.
Derek teased me before the conference because I was so nervous about meeting her. I was explaining to him that, as he knows, I don’t do the celebrity worship thing. I think a few actors are hot, a few actresses are beautiful, and that’s about it. I have author-worship. Walking around this conference in the presence of people like Jenny and Jean Auel, Terry Brooks, Michael Slade, Anne Perry- it was intimidating exciting, amazing- I felt like I was walking the red carpet of a huge Hollywood premiere.
Jenny, to me, is like Julia Roberts is to most people. Larger than life and you can hardly believe that they’re truly real. I was probably also a little afraid that I would find that she was more human than I wanted her to be and I would be disappointed. Is she human? Yes. Was I disappointed? Not in the slightest. In fact, I love her more.
Friday was the first day that I was able to speak with her, if only for a few brief moments. I mentioned on my post about the first day of the conference that I let out a silent squeal when I saw her and Bob walk by me to their table. I’m part of an online group/fan site of hers and we call each other The Cherries. To identify each other at these things where there are some of us milling about, we try to always wear cherry something or other. I had on cherry earrings and was carrying my cherry purse. I had just set it on the ground when she walked by and I wanted to kick myself. I should have left it up! I was only a table away from her and I was probably staring instead of listening to all I should have been listening to. (God, if she reads this she’s going to think I’m a stalker! I’m not, I swear, just awestruck!) Needless to say, I didn’t get the chance to accost her at this point.
The workshop that we had with Jenny that day was on making collages as a tool for brainstorming. It was something I’ve seen before from her website, but hearing her process and what exactly the placement of the pictures in her collages mean to her, was really something else. In fact, Saturday night when we got back to my place, Jacquee and I started ripping out magazine pictures and starting our own collages thanks to this course.
When the course was over, we went up to the front of the room to introduce ourselves. We said our names and looked at her like morons. She looked at us like, “Okay. Nice to meet you. Now what?” We then told her we were cherries and she practically lit up. She started talking about looking forward to breakfast and we grinned our excitement and then left her to pack up her things. As we left the room I turned back to Jacquee, grinning ear to ear. I’d just spoken to Jenny Crusie. Wow.
The next morning was breakfast. There had been a slight panic the night before when I realized I had no clue where “The Guildford Restaurant” was, but soon realized they just meant in the lobby of the hotel. Jacquee and I arrived to find the rest of the cherries in a group waiting to go in. We all sat down and waited for a bit before Jenny arrived and we sat around talking and eating for about an hour. I was so nervous. I was seated across the table and kitty-corner to Jenny and I don’t think I said more than a few words. I didn’t want to sound like an idiot! I did talk quite a bit to Janice- a fellow cherry- and had a very enjoyable breakfast.
We were all surprised when we went to pay our bills and found out that Jenny had graciously accepted the tab for us all. It was completely unnecessary of her, and yet so nice. We should have been paying for her! We were also let in on what table number Jenny was assigned for the meet and greet lunch where one author/editor/agent is assigned per table.
Lunchtime came and we booked it to table 21 so we wouldn’t miss out on the fun. Lunch with her was so much fun. We talked about books, the email group, the courses, Bob, and dessert. It was quite funny, actually, Jacquee had picked up a dessert that she hadn’t been able to identify, taken a great big bite, and had been completely disgusted- still without knowing what it was. Jenny laughed and then said she had to know what it was and so Jacquee passed the plate on over her direction. Jenny took a bite and made a face that made us all laugh. Disgusted, right? Nope. She liked it, she just couldn’t figure out what it was. Turns out it was a buttertart- but with raisins.
After lunch was her course on community in fiction. Again, it was a fantastic class and it really made me think about how my characters are all intertwined within their story. I hadn’t realized how much a characters work relationships (even if seemingly irrelevant to the story) can really hold a lot of meaning. When I finally finish a first draft, I have a long list of things I need to examine in my manuscript to make sure that my relationships are genuine, unique, and yet realistic.
During the booksigning, Jenny was great and was patient enough to sign my stack of books. I felt so bad about bringing so many that I had even left several at home to try and be a little more reasonable. I’ll get them signed next time. Jacquee and I laughed when we saw her and Bob sneak out early and head to the bar.
Her keynote speech was loosely based on Chris Vogler’s, A Writers Journey. I wish I had it on tape because I could never reproduce it. Ever. As I think I mentioned before, she got the only standing ovation of the weekend. Because she’s brilliant. After the speech, Jacquee and I walked up to her to tell her how great it was. She was in the middle of a conversation so we hung back a bit and she grabbed my hand and held it for a few moments to acknowledge us. Jenny held my hand. Squee!
Sunday was the last day of the conference and all day I felt a little nagging bit of sadness- I didn’t want the weekend to end. There isn’t going to be a separate Sunday post because there’s only tidbits worth sharing- a large chunk of which was Jenny and Bob’s workshop on co-authoring a novel.
Jenny Crusie and Bob Mayer play off of each other wonderfully. They are so different, and yet so alike in their humor, that they work very well together. Even the way Bob’s powerpoint slides came up on the screen drove Jenny nuts and Jenny’s talking about shoes drove Bob crazy. The best part of this workshop (besides the obvious wealth of information they gave) was the emails back and forth that they shared. I’m going to try to paraphrase the best ones here.
Jenny: So DLD is about love and lust and love overcoming lust. (Okay, I can’t paraphrase four paragraphs worth of theme on a book that hasn’t been published yet, so just realize that this email was exceptionally long and an in-depth analysis of the potential themes of Don’t Look Down.)
Jenny: I love these lengthy, thematic conversations we have, don’t you, Bob?
I would have shot him. At any rate, they were very very funny.
After that workshop, Jenny signed a few more of my books (minus two that I left at home- again, with the accosting and not wanting to overwhelm her). I had a camera with me in my bag and I should have used it then, but I didn’t want to tie up her time when others were waiting. I thought that I would try to catch her after the final luncheon, but it turns out that I never did end up bumping into her again.
If you haven’t been convinced that she’s amazing by this point, then you need serious help because the woman is a goddess. She said it herself in her speech.