A more appropriate title might be: what the LA Festival of Books taught me about festivals and big events in general, but I figured that was too long! Anyway, I just wanted to sum up a few things I learned over the course of two days in LA – both good and bad! Also: keep in mind that even though I live in a city of 50,000 people, I was very much like Dorothy visiting Oz – totally wide-eyed and stunned that the world is even bigger than I had ever imagined! So, without further adieu, let’s start with…
This isn’t an “oh the world is horrid and I had some awful moments at the festival” sort of bad – it’s a “shoot son I screwed up and need to remember to prepare myself better next time” sort of bad!
Don’t Leave Any Book at Home
On Saturday, I only brought Fangirl for the Rainbow Rowell signing, thinking “oh I haven’t even read Eleanor & Park anyway, I don’t need it signed.” WRONG! I waited TWO hours in that line – for that I should have gotten both my books signed, having read them or not. The same happened with Tahereh Mafi – I only brought Ignite Me, and not Shatter Me, since I didn’t know if she even had a signing. Well, she did (duh), and I was able to buy a copy of Unravel Me and get the second two books signed, but now my copy of Shatter Me is unsigned. Stupid me!
Sunday was much better after that – I brought every single book (even my Stephanie Perkins ones even though that I wasn’t sure I’d make to her signing. Hint: I did) for all the authors I had even a possibility of meeting. So even though I had nine books to carry all day, it was beyond worth it because all my books were signed!
You would think that, having this ghost skin all my life, I would have learned by now that even fifteen minutes of sun will burn me. But no, I don’t learn. You would think that with my dad’s side of the family being Mexican, I’d tan, but noooooo I take after my mom’s Welsh side instead! Anyway… this is the result of my idiocy – and from wearing a lace shirt that’s thinner in some places than others.
Isn’t that hot? Oh yes, I’m smokin’. No really – I melted the ice packs!
Use a bag that you can sling over your shoulder
Not one that requires you to hold it by hand. I swear my right shoulder is at least an inch lower than my left now – permanently. Books aren’t all that heavy – but put 9 hardbacks together and DAMN that’s hard to carry. My right arm is so sore now! Instead, be smart like the other people I saw: use a bag with a longer strap that you can put on your shoulder and have your entire torso support the weight and not hold in your hand. Or even better! Use a rolling cart, or even a suitcase with wheels.
For the love of all that is holy…
EAT. On Sunday I was so distracted by all the running back and forth and signings I wanted to attend that I barely ate. When I caught up with my mom later, I was shaking so much and didn’t even realize it was because I hadn’t eaten but for a granola bar and small cup of noodles midway through the day. Maybe it works for some people, but for me, who needs to eat every 2-3 hours to feel okay, going twelve hours with about 800 calories really doesn’t do the job.
So the lesson here is: bring lots of water and snacks, and remember to actually EAT THEM.
Now here’s the fantastic parts of the weekend – the amazing things I’ve learned about the bookish world and people in general!
Authors really aren’t that hard to talk to!
Do not be embarrassed to start a conversation! The easiest thing for me I’ve found is to just start with a hello and a “how are you?” – the rest will follow. Honestly, I’ve started by complimenting an author, and they get the biggest grin on their face and all those awkward walls come tumbling down!
Bookish people are the kindest ever!
Example A: I got lost so many times – like, honestly, what campus is four blocks wide?? It’s madness! Anyway, I never felt weird about walking up to a random person and just saying, “hey, where the heck am I?” And I was always pointed in the right direction with a smile.
Example B: I was in line for the Stephanie Perkins signing, and my earring caught on my shirt. For the life of me, I could not get it undone – my head was cocked to the side and stuck there unless I wanted to rip my shirt or break my earring. So, embarrassing as it was, I turned to the girl behind me and said, “I’m so sorry, but could you please untangle me?” She laughed and helped me out, and we laughed it off, deciding that the lesson here was ‘don’t wear long earrings with lacy tshirts!’
Example C: We’re all stuck in hour long lines, waiting for authors, so most of us – I didn’t ever get any names – just randomly started conversations. And if I heard someone talking about a book I liked, I joined in easily, and the same went for people who jumped into my conversations!.
There is actual diversity in the world!
Where I live, the majority is white and skinny. Which I’m half of. But then, even in that tiny chunk of LA, to see so many different shapes and colors of people – it was incredible. For once in my life I didn’t feel like I stood out or like people were staring at me because I’m not a size 2. There were girls the same shape as me wearing tank tops – and rocking them! I NEVER wear tank tops because I’m so self-conscious of my arms, but honestly seeing so many people looking amazing no matter their size, it really gave me some much needed confidence. So there was definitely some personal growth this weekend as well 🙂
In the end…
This was an incredible experience, and I’m so blessed to have been able to attend this event! I met amazing people and authors, experienced all new things, and actually did well! No anxiety or attacks either; I know that might not mean much and it was just another weekend for some people, but this was a huge step for me. And to have done so well and handled so much stimulation and newness – I feel like a whole new person!