You know how one minute you're dropping your ducks off at someone's house and the next minute that person is asking if you'd like to do an author event at the local library? That's basically how I found myself staring out at my friends and neighbors here in Lyons last night, while they asked me questions about writing.
And also how my ducks, Ollie and Ezra, came to be renamed Lord and God (or Bog, in Russian) by my librarian's sons, who gave me a short lesson in Russian literature.
I am a terrible speaker in front of a crowd. Mostly because I'm painfully shy, even though nobody ever believes me when I say that. But Lyons is a small town and we all went through a flood together, which is kind of a bonding experience. Plus, we have amazing librarians and if you don't have a cool small town librarian, you should really get one. They brought snacks and leftover Halloween candy and then asked me to make everybody do a writing exercise.
Oh, you crazy librarians!
I asked everyone to sniff the person on their right and then write about it for five minutes. A lot of people read and it was incredible--there were smells that reminded folks of their Grandmother's house, woolen sweater smells that signified the first snow of winter, someone smelled like a Mai Tai (coconut lotion, as it turns out); the smell of our dog park at the end of town, and a beautiful piece about butter being sliced and warmed in a pan and how that came to signify mothering and security. I love the girl who said she couldn't read hers out loud because she had been "really honest." (She and her friend had come straight from cross country practice).
And that, my friends, is how all writing starts. With an idea, a friend, and maybe a really interesting smell. It also helps if you throw a librarian or two into the mix.