Here’s the skinny. I started this blog to build up a massive audience of potential supporters for a memoir I’ve been working on, Virtuous Sinner: Made in Vermont. I’m proud to say that over the past 2 1/2 years I now have about 15 followers. Seriously only half of them are related to me, so this is huge.
Here’s what my new, kind friend Katie McKenna wrote: “Once I picked up Virtuous Sinner I didn’t want to put it down. Alexandra Langstaff charms you with her honesty, humor, self-awareness, and joyful insights. Langstaff invites you into her family, community and life with the kind of generosity that is usually reserved for old friends. Reading this memoir felt like having a conversation at a dinner party that I never wanted to end!”
Just so you know, Katie wrote the incredible book, How to Get Run Over by a Truck, a few years back. To say I’m delighted by her endorsement is an understatement. There’s a surreal fog in my head, although that could be due to celebrating with box wine.
I didn’t know Katie when I supported her campaign to get her book written a few years ago.The title and story were intriguing. As it turns out, the book is funny, horrifying, and inspirational. More importantly it offers a perspective on how one deals with a crazy situation without going…crazy. As kismet would have it, a friend who was editing my words 8 months ago said, “I wonder if your stories will have any relevance outside the boundaries of the 05251 zip code? Maybe my friend Katie, in NY would read it, I bet she’d get a chuckle.” I was psyched to have a reader from the big city take a look, and then the pandemic hit. That’s also when I put two and two together. “Oh, that Katie!
As the months went by and the manuscript was complete, I decided to send a message to Katie. (The worst thing that could happen would be no response, and how bad is that really?) I sent her my elevator pitch “A not quite cosmopolitan but not quite clueless, hotdog eating yoga teacher shares memories of folly, foolishness and forgiveness, beginning in the ‘60s in a small town in southern Vermont.”
It was a ballsy move, one that I’m still recovering from. But that is what writing and living is all about it’s doing what you love and then having the conviction to follow through with whatever it is you want to follow through with, sometimes we fail, miss the mark, or embarrass ourselves. Other times we succeed.
My stories are not recipes to change one’s life, they are stories to remind us that we each have experiences and thoughts that help explain our place in the world. Many of us don’t wear our successes or failures on our sleeves like hearts, but sometimes, when we do, it can free us up and allow us to make connections we never dreamed of.
Making connections is the essence of living. It doesn’t mean you have to become friends, followers or fans, it means you can show compassion, generosity and support.
Here’s another skinny. Katie is not the first person I have written to (out of the blue) with little expectation of a response. A year and a half ago I wrote David Sedaris. I had read a few of his articles in the New Yorker, however, when I picked up Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk and loved it, I thought “Oh that David!”
As he has said, he didn’t have to jump through hoops to build a social platform (something that is essential in the book world these days) things just happened. That sounded good to me.
I wrote to ask if it was still possible to attract readers without gathering email addresses and followers, if so I’d certainly appreciate any advice he might have to offer. I ended by telling him how delighted I was to read his words because they sounded as if I’d written them.
Apparently, David responds to all letters. My handwritten note complete with a cartoon on the back of the envelope must have got lost in the mail. That’s okay, after Katie’s endorsement, a response from David would just be gilding the lily!
Namaste- Here’s to people who make your day!