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Michael Chabon is Better Than Pie

October 8, 2012

Last weekend I engaged in two different activities: the Occoquan outdoor fair, and the Fall for the Book event at George Mason University featuring Michael Chabon. Even though the fair involved pie, let me just tell you that meeting Michael Chabon in person was waaaaay better.

First off, as I’ve blogged about before, I’m on submission. This has turned me into a Crazyperson. Because Crazyperson status is fun for neither me or anyone close to me, I’ve been trying to find ways to distract myself. So while I did want to spend the weekend in the darkness of my living room, shrouded in blankets and watching kitty cat videos on youtube over and over (like this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaA_cs4WZHM), I knew that the healthy thing was to get off the couch and be social. So I committed myself to the Occoquan fair, as well as RSVPed to the Michael Chabon event.

The Occoquan fair was literally a breath of fresh air. It was finally beginning to feel like October, and I could smell the leaves. We walked to the beginning of the white tents to find something beautiful: a pie shop. We clattered up the wooden steps and pushed open the front doors.

Hello, deliciousness! What a charming, quaint little store. I loved the old-fashioned, country vibe. To the left were shelves and shelves of varieties of jams and apple butter. Directly in front of us were glass cases of every flavor of fruit pie imaginable, as well as displays of gigantic cookies crammed with chocolate, nuts, oats and raisins. Every color of rock candy brightened the cream-colored backdrop of the cashier’s station.

We walked out with two huge cookies and a jar of apple butter. I have to say it was pretty sad how very, very excited I was.

Then, of course, was the fair itself. Hundreds of tents of vendors selling wares ranging from wedding dresses to funnel cakes, all along the Occoquan River. During the two hours we browsed, I hardly thought about being on submission at all.

But my weekend wasn’t over. Sunday brought the Michael Chabon event. Mr. Chabon was being presented with a prize at George Mason University, and those lucky enough to find out about this beforehand could reserve tickets for his speech and a subsequent book signing. I thoroughly enjoyed Wonder Boys, The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, and The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, and I was really curious to see what the man himself was like.

I now have a total crush on Michael Chabon. He was witty, humble, engaging, and charming…and the man has a Pulitzer! How do you stay all of those things when you have a Pulitzer? I was so impressed. And one of the best stories he told was about the day he received his Pulitzer. He went to pick up his three year-old son at day care, and very calmly began to try to relay his news in a way his kid would understand. This is how it went down. “Daddy won a prize today.” “Open it! Open it!”

Although Mr. Chabon’s presentation itself was very engaging (he performed both sides of a Q&A session), it was also inspiring.

It wasn’t inspiring because Mr. Chabon overcame adversity and yatta yatta yatta to obtain his acclaim and Pulitzer. (Mr. Chabon did not have it rough in terms of getting published. While obtaining his MFA at the University of California-Irvine, his mentor submitted Mysteries of Pittsburgh to his own literary agent…and the rest is history. Not a. Single. QUERY.). It was inspiring because it was obvious that Mr. Chabon is the kind of writer who listens and learns. His speech addressed his journey from being a cocky kid with raw talent to Michael-Friggin’-Chabon as we know him.

As I sat there listening to Mr. Chabon, it occurred to me that a lot of the people in the auditorium were younger adults pursuing their MFAs. That made me a little sad. I had serious misgivings about going to law school, as I wanted an MFA. But Mr. Chabon’s speech, which was clearly geared to MFA students as it discussed his own experiences in the program, got me thinking.

Just because I didn’t get an MFA back in the day, I could get one now. And if I was willing to listen and learn, as Mr. Chabon did, it would make me a better writer. The books I put out into the world will be better because I allowed myself that experience.

It’s interesting, because I attended Mr. Chabon’s event as a means to not thinking about the submission process. But suddenly I was thinking about it again, in a different way. I was contemplating what I could do as a writer to ensure that the work I was submitting to publishers, and ultimately putting out in the world, represented the best that I could do. I was thinking about MFAs, online writing classes, obtaining more critique partners. For the first time, I was pondering about the submission process in a healthy, move-forward kind of a way, not as an obsessed Crazyperson.

Mr. Chabon, in the end, did me a great service, and for that I’ll always appreciate him. He got me thinking about submission in a whole other light. Submission is just part of the process of being a writer – the main part is actually writing. For the first time in weeks, I was thinking about writing again, and regrouping.

Sure, Mr. Chabon might not remind me of Fall. He’s isn’t edible. He isn’t filled with rhubarb and custard, or have a soft crust and a scoop of ice cream on top, but MAN – Mr. Chabon is way better than pie.

A nice view of the pie shop in Occoquan – how beautiful is this?

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One Comment
  1. Mmm, pie . . . oh, and Michael Chabon, too. Sounds like the ingredients to a perfect weekend. All that plus some yummy inspiration? Delicious!

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