Adelaide just hosted the inaugural Body In The Garden book festival where they incorporated the public’s love of gardening and crime fiction into one event. Where crime fiction writers and gardeners (and writers of gardening subjects) got together and wowed the crowds. Sometimes it was just garden talks, sometimes it was crime but, to me, the best of times was when they mixed the two. I mean, body in the garden – crime or compost? How could you not want to listen to that topic? It was brilliant!
Anyhow, one of the crime writers invited to the festival was Ann Cleeves, known for her Vera Stanhope and Shetland series of crime novels (both of which have been made into TV crime dramas by ITV). And, thanks to twitter conversations for about two years now (has it really been that long?) with this lovely lady I happened to follow and chat to called Ann… who I later found out wrote crime, and who happened to be Ann Cleeves… I was looking forward to finally saying hi in person. Yes, I was going to ‘meet someone famous’! But you know what, um, I was more excited to be meeting this lovely friend I had made via the internet. I mean, she wasn’t the first person I’d made friends with via the internet… I’ve been on the damned thing for 20 odd years now, right back from the time it was a UNIX based command line interface used just to play MUDD (Multi-User Dungeon Domain – I think).
I’d even spent some summers of my miss-spent youth travelling Australia meeting face to face with these internet friends for a nice day out together. To me, it’s what I did. Yes, I even met my husband via the Internet… though I really didn’t know him or acknowledge him as an interesting person to get to know as, well, husband material until we met in real life via another internet friend. Yes, he gave me a double layer of Whitman’s chocolates back when they still made decent chocolate. Who says a way to a girl’s heart isn’t through a box of chocolates?
So, anyway, I’d met people before whom I’d gotten to know via the Internet. And the majority of the time it had been a good experience. So I was really looking forward to meeting Ann. Yes there was a bit of the fan girl ‘This is a real author! She’s had her work turned into TV shows!’ excitement… But, honestly, not as much as I’d expected. And the majority of this fan girl feeling was making me feel humble that she’d offered to meet me for coffee before her Saturday events. But, the good manners and ‘must bear a gift to a visiting friend’ that had been bred into me took over and away I went with a little book of pictures of South Australia and stickers for her grandkids. And as soon as we got to say hi – no more awestruck fan girl, just friends who met online finally getting to sit and chat in real life. In a word – awesome. Though she did throw me with the name dropping of a certain man… lifelong Who fan and chatterbox that I am was left speechless. 😀
And being the generous soul that I am with a great love of my home and a desire to share it with others, I invited her for a day out – and she said yes! I won’t go in to details, but I still have a smile on my face as there is nothing I like more than showing off my bit of world to a friend and visitor. I loved it when I lived in Darwin, in Brisbane and now Adelaide. Because of my severe lack of overseas travel (not through want of trying, merely through lack of money) I was never taken up by the various tourist agencies to become a travel guide. I can speak bits of various languages; I have a great love of local flora, fauna, history and architecture… but no. I never got to be that traveller of this great land (or planet) and so have always had to restrict my passion of showing it off to the occasional friend willing to let me drag them around places.
But I digress by waxing lyrically over love of playing tour guide (I’m probably not very good at it by the way). So, I had my brush with fame. I got to walk about the Body in the Garden festival at Ann’s side and be introduced as a friend and local writer. I got the usual mixed reaction of polite interest and complete dismissal for being a no-one. Meh, I know who I am and what I do, I’m not looking for worldwide fame and adoration, just enough money from my books to buy brownies and to see reviews from people who have read my worked, got what I was trying to give and enjoyed it.
Am I a better person to have met and rubbed shoulders with someone famous? Maybe, but probably not as much as people expect it to be like. Am I a better person for getting to spend some time with an internet friend where we both (hopefully) enjoyed our time together? Definitely! Though I will state now I’m not expecting to be lifted to her top ten friends or Christmas cards list, but am happy to have had my moment all the same.
What can I suggest to other’s who discover themselves meeting someone (whether they’re famous or just someone new they’d like as a friend) is simple be yourself. I think the reason I enjoyed myself so much today is I didn’t stress over my looks, my car, my kids, etc. I basically was just myself. Sunburnt, fighting off yet another sinus infection and in a car in desperate need of a clean with kids who had a bit of a meltdown as they needed some lunch. But I didn’t stress! I may not be happy with who I am on the outside (I think I’ve mentioned my low self-image thing before) but I just ignored that today and was my inner self. The person I am happy with.
Try it, be yourself. Not just in this situation, all the time. You may not schmooze your way to the top, or gain fandom and celebrity, but just try it. Who knows where it might lead.
Until next time,
Ann and I in Hahndorf. Thank you for the lovely day and new book. 😉
And yes, I know I look like I don’t want my picture taken… I did. But my general dislike of having my photo taken took over. Hence the expression. 😀