Some days, I should not be let out of the house.
These are the days where I spend lots of time writing my best words down. On these days, I have inadequate words left in my mouth to give up in conversation. The end result is a type of mind constipation that manifests as verbal diarrhea. Prognosis: short to medium-term embarrassment.
Today I met Etgar Keret at the Perth Writers Festival. He’s one of my writing idols. When I read his short story/novella collection, The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God, I marvelled that someone could get away with writing like he did. He wrote how I wanted to write. I felt like I’d found a kindred spirit.
So that was the first thing I gushed about when I met him from the other side of the signing desk. I was a giddy schoolgirl at the front of the queue.
But that wasn’t all I said. I told him that he had inspired and daunted me. I told him that after I’d read The Bus Driver more than 10 years ago, I couldn’t write at all for a time. How could I, when someone else did it so well? I couldn’t emulate that.
All the while, I could feel my face heating because I hadn’t planned what to say, yet I couldn’t stop the words and they were wrong, oh so wrong!
Mr Keret was unjudging and gracious. He smiled at me.
‘Do you write?’ he asked, and his next words confirmed what the last decade has taught me in slow lessons:
- don’t worry about what anyone else thinks of your writing;
- don’t try to write like anyone else; and
- write only for yourself.
Then he drew me a picture in The Seven Good Years and told me to keep writing.
Now that I have managed to extricate the last of the stars from my eyes, I will do just that.
And next time I meet one of my literary heroes, I’ll be prepared. I’ll be the one standing at the front of the queue with a pre-written spiel and a bunch of flowers stitched into my neck to mask the beetroot redness of my face. Or I will have somehow found a way to be both eloquent and elegant.
May Etgar Keret’s generous words inspire your writing week,