Even as a writer – even as a person who can create worlds on a blank sheet of paper – I couldn’t think of any simple words to say to my favorite author at the front of the line. Everyone else around me seemed to have their ideas planned out, but they were all readers for the most part. I was a writer about the meet a successful writer. Words didn’t flow in that scenario.
Mom stood beside me the whole time. She talked me through it a few times while also messing around on her phone since the line was so long. “Mention that you’re a writer,” she repeated. “You write the same types of books as her, don’t you?”
“Yeah…” I mumbled, but not with confidence. I kept turning to watch the author, Marie Lu, from far away. Out of every author on the left side, she was about the only one whose line stayed full the whole time. It’s strange that she’s not one of the headlining authors here.
The line moved like a turtle as it curved around. Still, my mind couldn’t pick what to say. Everything I thought of sounded either like I looked up to her too much or that I was shoving my creativity down her face. I wanted neither. But every time I tried to think of something, my mind went into a haze.
We curved around with the line after a while. The end of the line squished smaller and smaller until they let us out. I didn’t want to cause trouble, but I was close as to running as I could be with Mom not far from me. However, Marie’s line stretched as far as they let the lines go. People could only join the line if there was still some visible tape on the ground. Her tape was all covered up.
The quick steady tempo to get to Marie turned into the slow turtle walk up and down the lane to wait for my possible chance to get in. The guy guarding her line shrugged at me a few times, knowing he couldn’t do much. But as soon as he had the chance, he let me in.
Marie’s line was stretched far, but it moved fast. Too fast. Before long, I stood about halfway down her line and I hadn’t even thought of anything to say still. Mom encouraged me again, but I didn’t hear her words as much as before. Nervous energy took over me here.
I don’t remember what I said when I walked up. Marie had a warm smile that could brighten a room. She asked how I was doing and I told her that I was good. After an awkward pause, I added that I liked her books, which wasn’t the smoothest transition for me. She smiled back as if nothing awkward passed through us.
Mom, however, could not let it slide. She leaned over to the side to where Marie could see her. Her words came out in a rushed whisper. “She writes books too!” I assumed she pointed towards me, but I didn’t see. “She’s a writer.”
“Oh, you write?” Marie’s eyes lifted. A new course of energy ran through her. “What kind of books do you write?”
“Fantasy, but sometimes sci-fi,” I replied with my hands twirling around each other.
“That’s great! You should keep writing!” She smiled at me one last time before my time was up.
People had said more to me about my writing, but her words stuck with me the longest. There was something about a famous stranger encouraging you that I couldn’t find anywhere else.