good writers don't

On top of her shoulders is a face-shaped sign that reads, in Barnum & Bailey ornamental all-caps, TWO-TIME GILLER PRIZE NOMINEE! and where her eyes should be there are two electric stars that flash with that flourescent-bulbed BZZZT. BZZZT. BZZZT. And she's nice, very nice, but the niceness of her fails to outweigh the weight of what she is.

"Is this your first book?" she says. BZZZT. BZZZT.

"It is." I tug at the hem of my skirt, which suddenly feels too short. I look past my lap and regret that my flats are bright green. Everything about me feels girlish. Next to a TWO-TIME GILLER PRIZE NOMINEE! I have pigtails and orthodontic headgear.


You know how you see crows, and they're always hopping along the side of the road, looking like they don't need anybody? The group nods, and I wonder how many of them have been to a writing workshop before. I haven't. They always look alone but really, they're a little travelling village. They're odd and hoarse. They don't chatter. They're either quiet or they're screaming. They always look like they're up to something. They band together to figure out who's left their garbage uncovered.

If you're a writer, you're going to feel lonely sometimes. But every now and then you'll come across someone and you'll see it in their eyes that they're like you. Watch for those people.

Luke, the 15-year-old with the gigantic notebook and the world inside his head, smiles.


Is it so wonderful, writing? I don't know. It's romantic and indulgent and optimistic, an inherently defiant act. It is a squawk that hopes to coax the squawks of others. But it's lonely and bloody work both greenlit and sabotaged by ego. Happy clown / sad clown. Either way, I wear bright green shoes and I can't look a Giller Prize nominee in the stars.

Tell me about a humbling moment in your writing, art, sports, life. Anything. Tell me how you managed to leave the hotel room and fake it, so to speak, despite that crushing humility. And tell me what happened after that. I'd really like to know.