What happens when you don’t need to find the extraordinary moment in the common thing because, well, everything around you is already packaged and delivered as extraordinary?
I’m on 39th street, in a beautiful loft, mingling with writers, artists, literary agents, and ladies arranged in bouquets, with men in suits as stems, in various corners of the room. Everyone I talk to has extraordinary news: a new novel coming out in the winter; a non-fiction book about railroads nearly finished; screenplays coming soon; or grand moves to new cities.
And when I pause to catch my breath, girls surround me with neat little trays to offer hors d’oeuvres that need clarification. Somebody brings me a drink in a deep purple glass.
Meanwhile, my friend signs my copy of her book. Carey Wallace’s debut novel shimmers in my hands. I’ve read it twice already, and the language itself makes me happy. The story chronicles a woman’s journey as she goes blind and presents the fictionalized version of the historical love story surrounding the invention of the typewriter. In many ways, for me, it’s a story of the relationship between sight and insight.
I’m now sitting in a corner, against a wall, on a stool. Within an hour, two different people stop by and confess their similar but undoubtedly unique doubts about Christianity. Both men have abandoned their faith because of serious concerns about the authenticity and authority of scripture.
One of them says: “If only God had written a better Bible, maybe then I could believe.”
I’m in a different sort of worship gathering here, and I don’t belong at all. But then I notice my friend has exchanged her high heels for flats–a welcome symbol that as the party wanes, we are stripping down to our essentials. It’s the feet I notice all of a sudden. Flip-flops replace the spikes and glitter, and tightly pinned hairstyles come down.
I’m just about to leave, and I haven’t accomplished something I should do: I’m supposed to meet my agent face-to-face and pitch the idea for my nearly finished novel. She’s over there, in a bright green dress, radiant and sure. What do I say?
I deliver a few sentences as she shakes my hand. She’s delighted, eager, and encouraging. The man who wants a better Bible leans over my shoulder and says: “Well done! You were in and out, concise and clear. You didn’t drool all over her, and you left an impression. I’ll give that an 8 1/2. That’s how you talk to an agent.”
There are rules to this game that I don’t know. But at least my feet didn’t hurt. I started out in flip-flops and never had to change.