Friday, July 31, 2009

Moving Across the (On)Line

I'm going to this thing tomorrow, in this place, where I'm going to meet these people.
I'm a bit worried.
It's a thing I know about but have never seen; it's a place I've heard of, but never been; they're people I know of, but haven't yet screened.

The thing and the place aren't the issue, to be fair. The people, though...

I spoke to them all, but only looked one in the eyes. We've all shared our secrets, and sometimes our cries.
I'd better stop rhyming, as I've just realised ... that this isn't a bloody poem. Sorry.

In actual fact, I'm looking forward to tomorrow a great deal.
Perry Isles, a good guy (I surmise) and a great writer (I know for a fact) is hosting a writing event in his shop/gallery in Moffat, during August.
The month will be dedicated to celebrating (and hopefully selling a few) books by authors who have found their way into publication by the less traditional routes, i.e. via indy publishers, competitions and self-publishing, etc. Perry has very kindly invited several writers, myself included, to the launch party tomorrow.
I envisage a piss-up of great magnitude, as does Perry, given the amount of alcohol he's apparently bought in (yay!).

But, I am going to meet in person for the first time, a few people I've only known online up till now, including the aforementioned Perry.

I'm not overly worried about this, as, so far, my experience in this area has been positive.
I have, up till now, met two people in 'the flesh' who I'd previously only encountered in the ter net. I'm delighted to report that, on both occasions, it went well and I have, hopefully, made a couple of good friends there.

Tomorrow I'm going to meet a few more. All at once. And they're all writers. And (shh, don't tell anyone) better writers than me!

Some are published, some are self-published and some are unpublished, but they're all bloody good, I know that.

Is this, I find myself thinking, when I get caught? Is this when it becomes obvious, to people who know, that I don't have a bloody clue what this writing malarky is all about; that I've been winging it?
I don't know the first thing about literature, never have. When I was writing WYLMT I had to keep a published novel at my side at all times so I could check if I was formatting the paragraphs properly (and I still got it wrong). I was on chapter 28 before I finally figured out the its/it's thing, and still don't have a clue about passed/past.
I'm the guy who read somewhere that all writing should be double spaced when submitting to agents etc, so put two spaces between each word, for an entire novel. It never occurred to me that it meant an extra space between lines. That was not a fun edit, believe me. Took me months to get out of the habit of hitting the space bar twice.
The writers I'm meeting tomorrow, on the other hand, are, well, clever fuckers.

The one thing I do have going for me, thankfully, is that, a. one of the two people I mentioned earlier I've already met is going to be there, so I can hide behind her if it gets dicey, and b. I get the distinct impression that everyone else who's going is intending to get really drunk too, so hopefully they won't remember a thing I say.
Thank Christ for alcohol (which is hopefully what those folks at that wedding did).

Anyway, once again I've completely failed to make a point. Becoming a habit with me, that.
I'd hate to be an advocate for meeting up with people you've met online, because there are so many ways that could go badly, but, for me, so far, it's actually been a very positive experience, and I have no doubt Perry's event tomorrow will only reinforce that.

Which just goes to show, I'm a rubbish moral guardian. Shit, I've never even robbed or stabbed anyone when I've been drunk or on drugs.

KIDS - Don't listen to a word I say, ever!

Moffat Book Month, Chambers Gallery, High Street, Moffat (it's in Scotland)


  1. I would simply adore to be there instead of on the other side of the planet. A bit of a knees up with other writers would be just the thing, and even more fun meeting the friends behind the words. Have a drink for me, Danny.

  2. Pull yourself together and start thinking logically. You just need to get bladdered BEFORE you meet up with them.

  3. My experiences with offline meetings of online meetees has been generally very good, with the exception of the one which inspired the following:

    A Traveller's Tale by tom mciver April 8th, 2003.

    I went down to Omaha, Nebraska, USA
    Now why the hell did you do that, you very well may say?
    I went to meet a woman there, to see what may transpire
    A winsome wench with long red hair, an object of desire.

    And did you find there what you sought? You ask, your interest tweaking
    Well, no, you see, 'cos I forgot my heater core was leaking
    Which meant it overheated as I drove around Des Moines
    And then I wished that Triple A'd persuaded me to join!

    I had to stop each mile or so to add more water to it
    Sometimes I had I had to scoop up snow, but I just had to do it.
    I filled that thing with coolant while my hands began to freeze
    My ears were cold, I slipped and fell and skint my bloody knees!

    And as I limped along the road, through freezing, windy weather
    I thought of her, how it would go when we two got together.
    And more and more I thought how she would greet me at her door.
    Would waiting make her want me less, or make her want me more?

    And if her welcome was not warm, would that be hard to take?
    I stopped to fill it up again, that's when I lost the brakes.
    I slithered off the road and then a snowbank stopped me cold
    I cursed that car I cursed the road, I cursed a thousandfold!

    I thought of her in Omaha, tucked up all snug and warm
    While here was I quite stranded by the roadside in a storm
    What right has she, I thought with ire, to be so warm and dry?
    And with that thought a single frozen tear sprung to my eye.

    I'll bet, I thought, that when eventually I get there later
    She'll say "What kept you?" or something like that and then I'll hate 'er
    Well by and by someone came by and helped to drag me out
    As on again I trundled I was riven then with doubt.

    This woman would not welcome me, she'd say I was too late.
    She'd criticise, she'd nag and moan, my lateness she'd berate.
    Just what the hell, I thought right then could I have once been thinking?
    She's going to knock me back, she'll think that I've just been out drinking!

    So as I nursed that truck along in Omaha's direction
    My anger level rose as I considered my reception
    I'd not be welcome now, I thought, well, sod that for a lark!
    I trundled closer, freezing cold, now driving thru the dark.

    To shorten this, my narrative, to cut right to the chase,
    I stumbled to her door, a funny look upon my face.
    She opened it, she smiled at me, I felt my left eye twitch
    She said "Come in, you must be cold!" I said Fuck you, you bitch!

    And turned around and walked away and never once looked back
    I left that gal, I left that town and headed up the track.
    So if you go to Omaha, especially if it's snowing
    Remember my sad tale, take my advice and just keep going!