Over the past weekend I was in the Bay Area with my mom and Aunt Kathy for two reasons. First, in Livermore, CA a new outlet mall opened recently, and I wanted to check it out. Also one of my closest friends from Saint Mary’s lives in Livermore and I wanted to see her. Second, after slightly stalking author Sarah Dessen’s blog, I found out she was visiting Pleasanton, CA’s local bookstore, Towne Center Books. Since I have been reading Sarah Dessen since 7th grade, I made it my goal to meet her, so I convinced my mom to go with me to the signing.
When we arrived in Pleasanton, I was nervous. There is something about meeting someone who you’ve aspired to be like for almost 6 years that makes you a bit jumpy. Most of the people who know me well know that it is my dream to be an author of Young Adult Fiction, and Sarah Dessen’s books are similar to the stories I would like to tell. Throughout the years of reading Sarah Dessen, I have read all of her 11 novels, read her blog almost daily, followed her instagram and twitter, and have had a longtime hope to meet her one day. Some may call this stalking, I just call it knowing who is successful in the market you would like to write in someday, and trying to figure why they have achieved their immense success.
But anyway, it’s a really odd feeling when you’re about to meet someone who you’ve never had an actual, face-to-face conversation with, but who is someone you feel that you know because you’ve read their personal work, you’ve heard about their day-to-day trials and tribulations, and you know their background. There is a nervous feeling that the person in your head will not be the person you meet. It’s similar to when books are converted to movies, and the character you imagined is portrayed by someone who has none of the features you’ve used to create them. I was nervous that Sarah Dessen wouldn’t be what I expected, and although I wasn’t anxious she would be terrible, I was nervous she would be just…different.
However, she was all I imagined and more. She was so sweet! And fashionable (always a plus in my book)! She spoke about her newest novel, The Moon and More, the process of writing and getting published, and what inspired her previous novels. Her advice to aspiring writers went something like: write everyday even if what you’re writing is garbage, read anything your hands can grab, and even on the worst days keep working at writing. She even mentioned that she has, in her opinion, one good writing day for every 70 days. That’s a little surprising, but as someone who writes, I totally understand that feeling. Sarah was the sweetest, and she was so down-to-earth, talking about her obsession with the Real Housewives shows (mainly CA locations, obviously), her coffee addiction, and her husband and daughter. After meeting her, I can now say she really is someone who inspires me to keep writing, and just get through the days when I think I’ll never write again (which she says is a day she has every time she finishes a book).
Another thing that made me realize I definitely want to write YA fiction is that every girl at the signing yesterday shared a common bond: Sarah’s novels. I talked to the girl who sat next to me, a finance major from Santa Clara University, and although I had only just met her we talked for the whole signing about which characters were our favorites, which book was the best, which was the most different, etc., etc., and there was zero awkwardness. Literature is an amazing thing because it can take two people whose worlds may never collide, and give them a shared interest that is a beautiful foundation for a friendship. I don’t want to get too preachy, but honestly, take music, television, literature, etc., and if two people find an artist, show, or book they both like, that initial conversation can be 100 times better.
Despite having some reservations about meeting Sarah Dessen, I am glad I had the opportunity, and it was seriously one of most eye-opening days of my life. For all those people who tell me English majors have a hard time getting jobs and whatnot, I say that if I can do what I love, and somehow make it work, then I’m already a million times more successful than the people majoring in something just because it will bring in the big bucks. As for meeting Sarah Dessen, I can check that off my bucket list, and get onto another task, like becoming an author. Have a great Monday everyone!