Friday, November 4, 2011

Asheville, Part 3: ...and the BEST

So, the last week in Asheville turned out to be the BEST OF ALL.

On the writing front, the sometimes-a-chapter-a-day productivity returned for the last week. (To be fair, I also sent a serious email to Jo about my writing struggles, and we worked out a more realistic deadline. Not feeling like I was totally behind helped too.)


Sorry for the blurriness. My camera is old. But you see that look on my face?? Pure SQUEE.
I am the short one.

I got to meet Stephanie Perkins. (She lives around Asheville, you know.) I went to her launch party for LOLA & THE BOY NEXT DOOR at Malaprops. Actually, I'm pretty sure that I sat next to her in-laws.

This is her second book, and at the launch, she spoke openly about how hard this book was to write. Which was very helpful to me, because I was finding The Ever Afters #2 so hard to write.

I am newly obsessed with Ms. Perkins, in case you couldn't tell from what I said about ANNA & THE FRENCH KISS in this post. LOLA is just as fantastic as ANNA, by the way.

I'm not the only person who thinks she's awesome, by the way. Look at how many people showed up at the launch!
And I wasn't even at the back of the line!!!

Reading her books is like eating candy. NOT like gorging on Twizzlers or nerds or gummi bears, where you feel puketastic from sugar. More like savoring a fancy, artisan truffle - you get the omg, chocolate feeling right away, but inside, you also taste the threads of other flavors: the mint, or the caramel, or the cinnamon. With a Perkins novel, you get the giddy, cute-boy-great-love-story feeling right away, but it holds genuineness that some romances - YA or otherwise - lack. You see two very real characters with their own histories and dramas and insecurities. You watch them work through their issues to make their happy endings.

If you have not read either, GO FIND THEM. (Hayley T., you romantic you, if you're reading this, and if you're still a fan of P&P and Audrey Hepburn romantic comedies, seriously, I really think you'll be a fan.)

Also, one more thing happened, which was the weirdest and most rewarding of all.

You remember the cool teacher in high school? Sometimes younger than the rest. Her clothes are cooler, and her passion knows no bounds. You may not even be in her class, but because your friends love her and talk about her so much, her enthusiasm rubs off on you anyway.

I'm sure you remember a teacher like her, but ours was Ms. Lillian Crutchfield. She taught 9th and 10th grade English, and 12th grade Creative Writing. I sadly did NOT have her. She left the school before my senior year - to write her own novel.

And I thought about her in 2009 - when I decided to quit my own job and write my own novel. Remembering her helped me believe such a thing was possible.

So, I SAW her. In the Dripolator. The last Saturday afternoon I was in Asheville.

Have I mentioned how delicious the Dripolator is yet? Because it definitely was.

It was one of those strange, chance, gift-like meetings. I kept staring at the blonde woman, scribbling in her notebook, and when I realized she was Ms. Crutchfield, I really hoped that I hadn't weirded her out too bad.

They also do this with their lattes.
I was SO impressed. (No, that is not sarcasm.)

I reintroduced myself, and that thing happened that usually happens when two writers with a smidgeon of Shared History get together: we talked about writing. About finding the right balance of being close enough to your family to share their lives but far enough away that you can get writing done without interruption. About how cranky you get when you haven't written for a while, how writing becomes a necessary release valve once you get used to it. About how sometimes you have two callings sometimes (hers is writing AND teaching - she is now a college professor).

But the conversation was a rare kind. It made me feel so calm and so passionate at once. It was like a midair refueling, very improbable seeming but also necessary.

So, y'all - THAT was my trip to Asheville.

Full of WIN, yes?

But I have decided to move. Over the holidays, I think. I haven't decided where, but I think it'll be like Asheville. I'll try places on for size.

Stay tuned for more of Shelby's Hometown Shopping Adventures... :-P

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