Tomorrow afternoon I am going to novelist Richard Ford's house as one of the Special Guest Authors at the giant 40th anniversary gala for the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance. The list of Famous Special Guests is daunting--among them Richard Blanco, Richard Russo, Ann Beattie, Jonathan Lethem, Lois Lowry, Elizabeth Strout, etc., etc. As a Less Special Special Guest, I am honored to be in this company, though also daunted and little depressed by the prospect of milling among the luminaries, though of course also hopeful that the affair will turn out to be not only memorable but also sociable and easygoing. Knowing what I know about the personality of writers, I suspect that 90 percent of the Really Special Special Guest Authors are just as daunted as I am. At this very moment, all around the state of Maine, Special Guest Authors are sighing and fretting and wincing, and looking mournfully at their partners over the breakfast table, and rechecking the guest list to see if there's anyone on it that they already know how to talk to, and trying to come to terms with how fat they're going to look in their party clothes, and hoping no one is going to ask, "What are you working on now?" because then they'll have to say, "Not one damn thing! I'm stuck in a terrible hole and every word I throw onto the page is wrong! Argh! Argh! Argh!"
But as Tom has pointed out, the food will probably be delicious, and the view will certainly be glorious, and he and I can always spend a lot of time walking down onto the dock and staring at the waves. Perhaps that's where all the Special Guests will be . . . crowded like ants in a knot at the end of the pier, like we're about to walk the plank.
[I'm getting carried away with this scenario, and I'll stop now because actually there are people on the guest list that I already know how to talk to, and everything will be fine, and if I look fat in my party clothes and haven't published anything in the New Yorker this week?--well, c'est la vie.]