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Location: Northern California

Read all about the adventures of the Tsao Family during the summer of 2012

Friday, October 21, 2005


California Writers Week

Did you know that the third week in October is California Writers Week? I didn't either, but that's what I learned Wednesday night when I attended an Open Mic Night sponsored by a local writers club.

So hey, if you're a California writer, go celebrate yourself!*

I didn't go to Open Mic Night to read, but I did go to listen, and I suppose, to size up the locals. I wanted to see who these people were who dared venture out in public proclaiming themselves as writers. I also wanted to see people who write but who probably don't blog. Just for fun.

And besides the fact that we were smack dab in the middle of California Writers Week, I learned the following truths.

Writers are introverted.
Writers just don't get out much in public. I don’t either. The harsh lights of Borders books--where we met to bare our souls and size each other up--made some of the writers blink and rub their eyes like moles would if they were to venture out during the day. Small talk was brief and not required. Eye contact was minimal. It was obvious that being there was difficult for some.

Writers are tortured souls.
It didn't take much of my overactive imagination to realize that everybody there had been mercilessly picked on as a child. Like me. Some write of the pain, others write to ease the pain. But there's always pain. Ouch, it hurts to be a writer. It hurts just writing about being a writer.

Writers have wry senses of humor.
Writers prefer to snicker rather than guffaw. They like their humor subtle and quick-witted. If you are going to read a humorous piece at the Open Mic Night of a club filled with these types, it had better be funny. Luckily, everything I heard last night was suitably funny, and I found it easy to snicker when appropriate.

Writers are above middle age.
I have read enough authors's bios to know that most writers spend their whole lives stuck in boring day jobs while eking out poems, short stories, and long novels at night. A writer is an artist, but because it's hard to serve art for dinner, we must keep our day jobs until the day arrives when we can retire and finally start taking our writing seriously.

Writers need other writers.
It's nice to know there are others who feel your pain. It's nice to share stories about rejection. It's nice to have others with whom you can celebrate accomplishments. Knowing other writers is called networking; networking is not a dirty word.

Writers can write, but that doesn't mean they can read.
It takes a lot of guts to get up in front of an audience of your peers and bare your soul. Perhaps this is why many writers stumble over the words that they themselves wrote. I like to dabble with the words, but I have no idea if I can speak those words in public. I'm not sure when--if ever--I'll be ready to get up and talk for a full ten minutes at Open Mic Night.

I am a writer.
I am an odd, introverted, tortured, sarcastic individual who is quickly approaching middle age and beyond. I crave recognition, and I'm resigned to rejection. I'm strong yet weak, proud yet humble. I'm a writer, hear me roar.

So when you're having that TGIF cocktail tonight, raise your glass to one or two (or three or four) California writers!


*Of course I'm being flippant. There are many great California Writers including Beverly Cleary, Dave Eggers, Anne Lamott... Here's a list of some of them.