Last night was the monthly meeting of my south side writers group. We meet at The Strange Brew, my favorite local coffee shop. Because Al and I are small business owners, I try to support our local mom and pop shops as much as I can. Truthfully, though, I just love hanging out at Strange Brew. The walls are painted warm organic colors and art from local artists is featured there. The owners are fun, friendly, creative people and the coffee is way better than the burnt flavors at that other well-known chain coffee shop.
We had a really great critique’ session. Throughout the evening, the group discussed the mental state of prisoners held in concentration camps, zombie existentialism while dealing with revenge, if it’s worth changing the reality of the world to make your story work, and whether villains have to be bad guys or just guys with issues. I didn’t actually submit anything this time but the group walked me though a brainstorming session about my antagonist in The Barn and it really got me thinking. I plan to get to work on it this week. But that wasn’t even the highlight of my night.
Toni, who owns the coffee shop along with her husband Daniel, brought my iced tea to the table before our meeting got started and she had a story to tell. It’s her story http://joanofdarkknits.blogspot.com/2010/04/meeting-neil-gaiman.html, but the gist of it is she had tickets to see her favorite author speak and ended up not only a V.I.P. with back-stage passes, but also went to dinner with him…swoon. I wasn’t familiar with the author so I came home and looked him up. Neil Gaimon is the author of Mirror Mask among many other best sellers (I haven’t read it but I loved the movie)… double swoon! Now, as I said, I’m not familiar with his work so I went to his website to check him out, and there on the most recent entry in his journal is a picture of Toni as her alter ego, Joan of Dark of the Naptown Roller Girls, dressed in all her roller derby gear. http://journal.neilgaiman.com/ His headline reads: Vonnegut and Rollergirls. Holy crap, I say. I wonder if Toni feels like I would if I saw myself featured in Stephen King’s journal? “Bargersville chicken farmer – King’s biggest fan.” Ok, Kurt Vonnegut and Roller Derby are much more exciting than my chickens and Toni is way cooler than me but you get the idea. This was an event of a lifetime.
Now this was all so very cool for Toni, but what made my day was that she took the time to share it with me. I don’t think we became BFF’s on the spot or anything but it’s nice to know that the lady with the pink hair who smiles when she brings me my coffee sees me and knows I would appreciate her story. That’s what it’s all about, making connections with people. Never forget that.
Now, I’ve got to make a trip to the book store. I think some Neil Gaimon will be included in my summer reading. I’ll have to ask Toni where to start.