2 nights, 2 authors, 1 teacher

I live a dull life and I like it that way. My evenings are the tamest imaginable. After dinner, I sit around and read, talk to BH, maybe watch a little football, or a movie we’ve rented from Netflix. BH and I sometimes take turns poking each other with forks in order to stay awake long enough to talk to one of the three magnificent daughters after 9 pm, so they won’t get charged for the cell phone minutes. Once we’re off the phone we crash. (In our defense, we wake up early.)

But the last two nights?

Hold on to your dentures, granny. We have been wild and crazy fools.

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Teachers are more important, so this guy gets first mention. Meet Chris Rogers. He teaches English 9 at Morrisville-Eaton High School in Morrisville, NY. Mr. Rogers took the extra time and trouble last night to come out to the bookstore to meet an author, and to learn more about great books he can use in his classroom. He is the kind of teacher that is making the world a better place. He also has one of the strongest handshakes I’ve run across in a long time. So everybody say hi to Mr. Rogers!!!

Chris and I were both at the river’s end bookstore in Oswego, NY to hear Betsy Burton speak. She is the author of The King’s English: Adventures of an Independent Bookseller. The book recounts her adventures of owning an independent bookstore in Salt Lake City, Utah for the last thirty years. But it is so much more than that. She’s a passionate advocate for building community by supporting local businesses (instead of letting America turn into a giant chain store), and as you might guess, she knows a lot about books. I really enjoyed hearing her speak, and I love her book.

On Tuesday night, BH and I headed into the big city to hear Joyce Carol Oates speak at the opening of this season’s Rosamond Gifford Lecture Series.

I found a much better summary of her talk than I have time to give, but before I link to it, here are a couple of quick impressions.

First, she rocked. I am a real fan, and in awe of her capabilities. She was comfortable in front of the crowd, and a confident speaker, which is always a plus. The time flew by – I wish she could have spoken for another three hours or so. Most of her comments focused on stories about how other authors have dealt with “the woundedness, the sense of isolation, and the helplessness that is at the core of creativity.” She gave countless anecdotes about how all kinds of authors have struggled and made their paths through the world of words.

I wish she had gone into an exploration of her own work, or commented more on how growing up in this region (she grew up north of Buffalo and went to Syracuse University) informs her writing, but those are deeply personal topics, and I understand how, perhaps, she didn’t want to go there in front of 3000 strangers. Still and all, it was a fabulous night.

Laura Ryan, the book goddess at the Post Standard, has a great description of the evening on her blog (scroll to the entry for 10/4). You should really take the time to read it.

All the excitement of the last two nights (plus watching the Eagles spank the Packers on Monday night) finally took its toll, and we way overslept this morning, which means I am wicked behind schedule. There are words to be written, then a visit to the eye doctor so I can actually see what I’m writing, then the gym, then home in time to listen to Neil Gaiman’s interview on All Things Considered (NPR). I am loving this week!

8 Replies to “2 nights, 2 authors, 1 teacher”

  1. Hey, I haven’t talked to you in a while…it’s Sara, (from mexico, I wrote and talked to you before.) I’m doing the senior quest again and I wanted to do it on publishing. I was wondering if you could be my mentore, because you would know exactly how hard it is and the process. When I talked to you before on the phone, you gave me some information that I know would help me know. I know you’re busy with your new book, but if you have any free time let me know if you want to help me out. Hope all is well. <3


  2. Neil Gaiman

    Thanks for the heads up on Neil Gaiman. One of my all time faaaaaavorites. Loved the Sandman series (even the “controversy” around the World Fantasy Award for the Midsummer Nights Dream story).
    I’ll check for the time.


  3. Thanks for the thrill!

    Chris Rogers here. I told all of my students that I met you and they were psyched. I also thought that Betsy’s talk was awesome, and I made new friends at the River’s End Bookstore. What was billed as just another unremarkable day in the life of a public school teacher turned out to be anything but that. Thanks!

  4. this comment has nothing to do with anything in this post so far as i can tell… i just wanted to say thank you for all your writing. it is so deep and touching and it makes me late to work and i dont even care. babymowgli gave me catalyst for my bday like 3 days ago and ive been devouring it. i mean i knew i would like it cause speak was incredible, but catalyst was so much more to me than speak was… the way kates mind works, her stream of consciousness, it was wierd to read because it was almost like reading my journal… thats just the way i bounce from topic to topic. anyways, last night i decided i would read a chapter and then go to bed… and then mikey died. i had to finish the book. teri’s reaction was powerful and the kate et al painting the play room… i dont know… theres just something about the way it all plays out, and not just the plot itself, but also the way you describe it; your style… im just… wow.
    so i guess thats enough geeky fanboying for now… i so look forward to reading the rest of your works.

    again, thank you for doing what you do and for putting up with however many million fangeeks like me who pester you daily.

    you are a hero in my eyes.


  5. Yeah, I’ll be sure to do that. I’m working Saturday and Sunday (McDonald’s right in Mexico, come in!)but I’ll try to call you before or after I work. I’ll be sending out a letter tomorrow more in depth in what I was talking about in that comment. Thank you♥ hope all is well.

  6. Hello again, I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to call this weekend. I was working and had no stamps to write, since I don’t have your number. 🙁 I’ll try to send it out tonight, or get find your number in your last letter because I know I still have it somewhere but I misplace everything. I hope everything is going well ♥

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