I almost didn't go because of the commute and fear that it would be mobbed. I've never gone to a reading before. I plan to go again. He was exactly the way I expected he would be. I've been reading Boing Boing for years and he is my favorite contributor. Usually if I find a post really interesting the byline is Cory. I've only read one of his books before this. I really liked Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, but this is better.
A sign I'm loving a book is that when I put it down and go back to real life I have trouble remembering that the book isn't part of reality. I keep wanting to discuss events in the book as if the people around me are experiencing too. I think part of this is because this book pulls in bits and pieces of Cory's BB posts from the last few years. Maybe that's why I had an accurate picture in my head of him. Not just how he looks, but how he sounds, how he phrases things. It was weird to be browsing in a book store, look up and hey, isn't that Cory Doctorow? Even though I was expecting to see him, it was odd. I smiled and said hi. It must be odd to be recognized by so many strangers.
So the reading. He started out doing Q&A to let stragglers settle in. I didn't ask anything before the reading. I didn't show up with questions in my head. I just wanted to hear him talk about his work. It was funny to listen to the people who desperately wanted to impress him. I find that painful to witness. I see it at work functions too. Some people ask questions just to ask something, so the questions are generic and a bit pointless. Some people love to hear themselves talk and will ask a five-part question that requires so much backstory that the question takes as long to ask as to answer. The worst I ever saw was the last time I saw Colin Powell speak at work, those new senior executives are so full of themselves and eager to impress. I wanted to howl or crawl under the table.**
Where was I, the reading. He read a passage that I read today at lunch. Marcus and Ange's first date, pages 184 through 197. I spaced out a few times during the reading. I'm a visual processor. It's easier for me to read and absorb than listen and absorb. Often after time I can't remember if I've read something or seen it on TV. My mind does it's own visuals and soundtrack and as time goes by I often cannot remember the original source. Having read the section only hours before it was almost too familiar. But it was cool to hear him read it. I guess he does a podcast and had read this section a while ago. Again, more of a reader than a listener, so I was oblivious.
Then there was about 20 minutes of Q&A. This is when I started asking questions and was unable to stop. He had mentioned a company that he bought his LINUX laptops from fully loaded and with tech support. I had missed the name. It's Emperor Linux Linux is something I'm interested in, but not enough that I want to fart around with it. I like the idea, but my focus isn't on hardware/software right now. I want tools that do what I want. I get enough troubleshooting at work right now. Wow, I'm rambling tonight. I'm a bit hyper actually.
I also wanted to know what he thought was the youngest age his book was appropriate for. He said 12. My nephew is way too young, I knew that. I bought a copy for ksl's kids QNE and had him sign it. I wanted to support the store and I had already bought my book at a big chain. I love small book stores in principle, but in reality I get annoyed by the small selection. Especially if I don't match their target demographic.
Someone actually asked where he gets his ideas from. Seriously? What are you ten? But he answered and it was interesting. He confirmed what I thought. All the posts he writes for BB are little nuggets he writes that helps him remember interesting things. Like a nemonic, he said. Someone also asked for writing tips. Here is a paraphrase of what he said:*
- Write everyday.
- If you don't know what happens next, make it worse. Make the character try to fix things and fail.
- Stop writing in the middle of a sentence. It will make it easier to pick it up the next day. Like the hint in knitting. (Okay, not sure I got that last part down right.)
I also asked if kids had taken up some of the more destructive jamming methods up in their own rebellions again authority. Instructables has been posting HOWTOs inspired by Little Brother. He said no, and that people make the mistake of thinking that reading or seeing rebellion or mischief causes kids to imitate. But that really it was kids will be kids. Okay, that is simplified from what he said. I wasn't taking notes and he went in a direction I wasn't anticipating. A little defensive maybe? He had an interesting quote from another YA writing, he thought it was Garth Nix, about adolescence being a series of one way gates. For example, one day they have never told a lie of consequence and the next day they have. No going back.
I would really like to have a conversation with Mr. Doctorow. I may have broken a rule of signing events by asking multiple questions. But I really wanted to know and I did wait for someone else to raise their hands before sticking mine up yet again. He did thank me for asking questions. Even if he was just being nice, it was nice. A woman asked me if I was a school or public librarian while waiting for the restroom. She assumed from my questions that I was a librarian. I told her I just read a lot. She is a librarian, so I guess I couldn't have been too out of line if she identified me as one of her own.
Wow, this has taken much longer to write than I planned. Past bedtime for me. I'm glad I went and I need to continue doing this kind of thing. I took down info from a poster at the bookshop to about a lecture at Fermi Lab on June 4. It looks interesting. I've never gone to any events there, but always meant to. Oh, and while most of the men at the reading tonight were too young or married, there was one handsome man who took the chair next to mine. I didn't notice whether he had a wedding ring though. I was busy trying to remember if I had put on anti-perspirant today (Alas, this was not the first time I questioned this today. I'm pretty sure the answer is no.) Then I could not find my signing number. I had number five and lost it. I spent several annoying minutes searching everything in my purse before giving up and getting another from the front desk. So, not only was fat and smelly, I was also annoying.*** Nice.
Oh, there was someone recording the whole thing and there was a guy taking pictures and another with his MacBook Pro possibly blogging or twittering it. He sat in front of me and his phone or some other gadget went off during Q&A and he didn't turn it off. I wasn't the only one in my row giving him the hairy eyeball. I'm glad I went right from work and therefore wasn't seriously tempted to wear my robot celebrity t-shirt that I found via BB. There were several people there with boing boing or Cory related gear on and he complemented each one, but it seemed a bit like wearing a concert t-shirt at the concert. But that's me over-analyzing the shit out of everything. If I wasn't so judgmental I'd more serene. Time for bed.
* Yes I did take notes. It helps me absorb information. So just take that Loser sign you are making on your forehead right now and cram it.
** I never posted the latest picture of Gen. Powell and me. I didn't like it, but at least this time my eyes were open.
*** I am allowed to call myself fat. You are not. I weigh 254 pounds. Don't tell me I'm not fat. I'm not being mean to myself. This is how I saw myself sitting next to the handsome man with a bit of gray in his hair and number one signing number. Sigh. Can't wait to meet the handsome charming man at my blacksmithing class where I will sweat like crazy working the forge and probably maim myself with hot iron.