where the writers are
Enlightenment amid the book stacks

In one of those odd twist of fate things for which nothing quite prepares you, I discovered today I have something in common with Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Isabelle Allende, Amy Tan, Annie Lamott, Al and Tipper Gore and a lot of other literary luminaries: Monogrammed stationery, courtesy of Book Passage.

Who knew?

Today was our book reading for "Knowing Pains: Women on Love, Sex and Work in our 40s." Tina Goette read her essay on running the San Francisco half marathon; Diane Perro read her essay on moving to France, where she knew no one, didn't speak French and had no job lined up; Molly Rosen, the editor, introduced us and explained the hows and whys of the book's origins; and I read my essay on becoming a cliché — a fortysomething divorced suburban soccer mom.

A lot of our friends and loved ones were in the audience, a few curious women of a certain age, and some poor people who, while searching the wonderful shelves at Book Passage, discovered that there was an author talk and decided, "hey, why not listen?" — having no idea that they'd get a good dose of estrogen-fueled midlife chatter.

I felt so honored to be there, to be part of the book, to have people I care about be there for me and us, despite my nervousness over reading an essay I still wasn't quite convinced was totally finished. I also learned that natural deodorant fails miserably when you most want it to perform.

But, now I am pumped — to write more essays, to brainstorm more anthologies, to connect with more writers, to finish that novel. Today was not my 15 minutes of fame; there is more ahead.

So, I've decided I'm going to use that monogrammed stationery to thank all those who show up at any of my readings — today's and all those in the future for as-yet unwritten and unpublished writings. Thank goodness there are about 500 cards in the box; I hope to use them all up.