The venue was an old, small cathedral in the heart of the city. I made my way up to the balcony area and slid in along the front pew. I was early, but the seats were filling fast. This was my first attendance to a writer's festival. I had come alone and was enraptured by the turnout of people. People who enjoyed literary arts as much as me. I had just completed the first draft of a novel, and in all honesty, I was still enjoying the thrill of simply completing a project so large and conquering a goal I had set for myself. I knew it was still raw and needed a lot of love, but sitting in that pew overlooking the makeshift stage the guest speaker would be seated on shortly, I couldn't help but dream of myself up there one day. An author.
Margaret Atwood took the stage promptly on time and an echoing hush fell over the audience. She spoke at length about her new trilogy which had just been released that, in keeping with authenticity, I had not read. I had read some of her early works and remember the sensation of optimism that came over me when my young writer's heart discovered that she was a successful Canadian author. That optimistic mindset I had felt back then is what I held on to as I listened to her that day explain the strange and beautiful ways her writing process happened. Many points not so dissimilar to my own processes.
I stood in line after her talk and waited with what felt like a hundred eager readers to have her sign my book and snap a photo with her. I knew as I stood amongst the crowd in that church that this process would give me the opportunity to only be another face that she would likely forget, but I waited anyway. When finally the line dissipated, I walked around the table and crouched alongside Miss Atwood, whispered my name, and told her that the wait had been worth it. She looked at me strangely at first perhaps because everyone before me had stood upright and proper beside her to pose for their photo. I handed my phone to a stranger and for a brief moment, sat elbow to elbow with a Canadian icon.
The image lived on my fridge for months after - through the beginning drafts to the word slaughter of my novel. Beneath it lived a quote by Ray Bradbury, "You only fail if you stop writing."
My daily reminders to chase my dreams.