Now, why would you out a restaurant critic in public? Unbridled enthusiasm, in the case of Jen B., who bounced over to give us bear hugs when she met us at the Kapalua Wine and Food Festival last weekend.
James and I had eaten our way through the booths, stood in line for dessert and coffee, and were looking for a quiet place to perch and get out of the crowds. A sweet couple invited us to put our plates and cups down on their small table, and we struck up a conversation. They asked us if we’d heard of the book Top Maui Restaurants, because “the woman at the next table said we must buy it.”
We copped to being the authors, at which point they started waving their hands at the next table and saying “These are the people you were telling us about!!”
This does not usually happen in public. Most of our correspondence with readers happens via email. If we’re spotted on the island, someone might slip over to our table and covertly show us a copy of our book. Sometimes we get a mouthed “thank you” from across the restaurant. Other times we get a thumbs up and a big grin.
When he heard the yelling, Jen’s husband Phil jumped up and came over to shake our hand. He reported “Jen likes your book so much she sent it to her ex-husband for his upcoming trip.” (Wow.)
Jen was in the interminable line for the bathroom, so Phil took a photo of us and stalked off to find her. When she returned, she made a beeline for me and hugged me like a long-lost cousin.
It was a little disorienting. Writing – unlike dance, music, and theater – is practiced in solitude. The lack of instant feedback from the “audience” of readers can cause both frustration – “why hasn’t the printer sent the books yet??” – and anxiety – “what if visitors and kama’aina don’t find the book useful??”
Without an audience in front of me, I make one up. I pretend that I’m writing to my three best friends, each of whom is smart, pragmatic, funny, and totally trustworthy. I would never want to steer them wrong or let them down with bad advice.
From Jen’s feedback – “You write the way I think,” that seems to be a strategy that works.
So thank you, Jen, for the hug and the stimulating conversation. I will treasure it, and use it to stay motivated during long writing sessions, rewriting sessions, more rewriting sessions, and … rewriting sessions.
Jen was attending the Festival because we recommended it, and she agreed that it was a fabulous event, and well worth the money. The evening breezes down at the Beach House at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua were refreshing, the wine was generously poured, and the food was top notch. (That’s her opinion, and James and I agree.) We’ve heard that the event is definitely on for 2011 – so we’ll see you there.