Aaron Burr, the Strand, and the Room Where It’s Happening
Before my Strand workshop Wednesday, I was nervous. I’m always nervous before a workshop or book talk. Then, 15 minutes before show time, I walked into the store’s third floor rare book room where my event was being held with my 4 pages of notes, post-its in my two books with the snippets I’d read—all lead-ins to the writing exercises I’d be giving, two hand outs—a tip sheet and reading list—and throat lozenges. I was greeted by a sea of warm, welcoming faces of many, already seated attendees and of Kaylen and Nick, members of the Strand’s super events team, setting up extra chairs, checking people in, and giving out the gift bags,
And… I was There. Comfortable. Home.
I love teaching, have been at it for 40-some years. Love the Strand, have been shopping there for 50. I moved to New York in 1967. I’ve loved the responsiveness and availability of the Strand staff whether I’m buying or browsing, and in the last few months, the responsiveness and availability of the events staff.
Wednesday‘s attendees included: strangers, a former student, friends of students, two people who registered for my fall New School class, my close longtime friend, Stephanie, a widely published writer who has taken—and paid for---my workshops, where she gets ideas, starts essays and gets them published, and Elin, the only published writer I knew in the 1970s. She helped me then. Such fun to get reacquainted!
Wednesday night, I spoke. The people, who came to write, wrote. They took notes. Wrote. And wrote more. Excited. Challenged. Free. At the beginning, a woman said she’d probably leave early because she’s allergic to dust and assumed there was dust in the rare book room. After the second writing exercise, she raised her hand to say she was so engaged in her writing that everyone and everything around her seem to disappear. Dust?
Surrounded by books and people who open up, engage, and connect is Heaven.
In Hamilton, Aaron Burr sings about being in the room where it happens.
Woody Allen says 80% of life is showing up. I think it’s more like 110%. With creating. With everything.
Love ‘n Stuff,
Ps. My next blog post will include a contest for you!!!