Hey guys! Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I even missed my second Saturday Sentiments post — I’m not off to a great start, am I. Well, the reason I fell behind was that I took a mini-vacation to Louisville, Kentucky for my English Honor Society’s international convention. Pretty cool, right? I was accepted to read one of my research papers, “The Short Story Pioneers,” which is about about the formation of the short story literary genre and which writers most significantly helped form it. It was pretty terrifying! I am a self-proclaimed introvert and public speaking is not my strong suit — I get crazy nervous, my face/neck/arms flush and I look like a tomato, and I start to have an anxiety attack. It sucks. I’ve done it before, but I still get anxiety every time. My head gets all fuzzy and I get tunnel vision… I wish it would go away. Nonetheless, I still presented a great paper and I’m proud of myself for trying.
Attending the convention is always a cool experience, but exploring the new city it’s held in each year is always more fun. Last year, if you recall, it was in Minneapolis, Minnesota; this year, Kentucky! Downtown Louisville was a lot smaller than I thought it’d be, and there was a lot more construction than I’d hoped for. The local restaurants were fantastic, though, and the museums were amazing. Though I was the only one presenting, I was accompanied by my girlfriend and two other members of my chapter. It was a fun three days, to say the least. Everything was paid for by my school and my organization, and we even received money to spend on food (and booze) (and books). It was great to get away from school, work, and life in general.
At these conventions, certain writers are chosen to speak and sign books. This year, the only one I recognized was Jeff VanderMeer. I haven’t yet read anything of his, but I knew I recognized his name. His book, Annihilation, has been on my to-read shelf for a long time. It’s the first book in his Southern Reach trilogy. Unfortunately, I missed his speech; I did, however, make it in time to meet him and get his autograph. Pretty cool, right? Since I’d never read anything of his, it was a pretty awkward encounter. I am awkward enough already, but meeting someone as grand as an author makes me worse. And I had no idea what to say — no praise or adoration — because I’d never read a word of his. I am such a loser. He was kind enough to sign my book anyway and take a photo with me. Jeff was very nice and he seems like an intelligent, talented guy. I’m really excited to read his book and review it. This is the first fiction writer I’ve met, taken a photo with, and been able to get his autograph. I have Neil Gaiman’s autograph, but it was a pre-signed book. I also have Philip Zimbardo’s autograph plus a photo with him, but he’s more of a psychologist and a non-fiction writer. Oh yeah, and I have the autograph of a stage actor whom I met in Canada during the Stratford Festival. Sometimes I forget I have so many autographs.
Anyway, sorry about the lapse in writing. I will definitely be more active this week and in the weeks to come. I’ve got less than a month left until I turn 21, and a month and 3 days until I graduate from college. Things are about to get crazy. Hope you all are having a lovely April day! If you’ve got any cool autographs, let me know — I like to read about people’s meet and greets with writers.
Also, if you’re in college or about to go to college, check and see if they have a group called Sigma Tau Delta (for 4-year universities) or Sigma Kappa Delta (for 2-year colleges). English Honor Societies are amazing — they look great on a résumé, help you make friends with like-minded interests, and open you up to a world of experiences. I know I will never regret joining. Once a member, always a member.