I will be participating in Bywater’s promotional events at Women’s Week in P Town this year. The time is fast approaching. (Isn’t that last sentence an odd construction?) One of the scheduled events is a panel discussion in which Bywater authors will be joined by Kate Clinton. At first, I was merely excited. I am a huge fan. Of course I’ve seen her on HBO. I’ve watched her vlogs on afterellen. I’ve always thought she was very funny, and smart.
As the time for this joint appearance draws closer and closer, I move from excited to nervous. I decide that I should read Kate’s book, I Told You So, as preparation. Now, in addition to nervous and excited, I also feel intimidated and awed. Kate Clinton is a great big gob of talent. Her book is not simply funny. It is well written and constructed. It is thought-provoking and real. I think now is the time to move on to absolutely terrified.
I should be more professional. I should be collected. I should prepare my remarks. Instead, I’ve asked to change seats with the other authors on the panel, because the seating arrangement leaves me sitting next to Kate. I can call her Kate, right? Well, for now, I address her as Kate. Then, I’ll probably forget my own name.
I’m joking. I am not intimidated. Kate Clinton was an English teacher. So was I. Kate Clinton has written a book. So have I. Kate Clinton has years of experience appearing before audiences. Oops.
Okay, back to the pep talk. I’ve had dinner with famous people. I’ve sat on panels with famous people before. I once stood in line at the women’s restroom with Katherine V. Forrest. Val McDermid kissed me on the cheek. (Still blushing.)
What if my hair sticks up crazily? What if I have a cold and sneeze and cough? There is no possibility that I could fall off the stage. Gravity still works.
What were we supposed to talk about? What is the topic? I should study. I’ll get a hair cut. I have a degree in history. I’ll give a mini lecture on the progress of lesbian literature through the ages. Maybe some new shoes. I’ll talk about the numerous revisions of What’s Best for Jane. If I get new shoes, won’t I have to get some new clothes to go with? I’ll make a speech about the impact of Bywater Books on the current market. Is it crass to ask a fellow panelist for an autograph? I’ll be very still and quiet, and try to appear thoughtful, rather than struck dumb. What if my chair has uneven legs and I teeter back and forth? What if I make a huge screeching noise trying to slide it closer? I could get hiccups.
None of that will happen. Okay, some of it might. I’m willing to bet that no one will notice if it does happen, the nervous twitches and throat clearing, the excitement. I’ll be focused on what everyone else is saying, and on what I’ll say. It’s going to be fun. Maybe I won’t even wear shoes.