Friday, October 22, 2010

The celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Cary Public Library

was earlier tonight, and I was one of the six writer guest speakers. David Drake, John Kessel, and I represented SF, and after the introductory remarks by various public and library officials, we retired to the kids section to answer questions. Yes, we sat under the same little cover as before.

Up in the Big Kids' section, Margaret Maron and two other writers whom I did not get to meet held court. Though I joked with John about the ghetto-ization of SF, it's hard to begrudge anything to Margaret Maron, who has earned her every accolade and who was as nice in person as she could be.

We all talked a bit about what libraries had meant to us, answered a few other questions, and then signed books that folks at the Cary Barnes & Noble were kind enough to supply.

When I was talking about my earliest library experiences, I commented that the library was a safe place where it was okay to be smart, okay to be a reader, okay to want to lose yourself in books. I hadn't until that moment made the obvious connection between safety and libraries and reading and books. Dumb of me, but at least now I know that little bit more about the young me.

In another response, I mentioned that I fell in love with books and thought one of the two coolest, sexiest things a person could do was have his or her name on a book's spine. (The other was to play for the Boston Celtics, but that was never going to work out for me.) I still feel that way, and I am grateful to all of you who buy my books and give me that opportunity.

I also mentioned how odd and sometimes hard it was to be an SF fan geek. Shortly thereafter, the discussion group ended, and we headed to the signing area. A woman intercepted me and said that if I thought that was hard, I should have been a girl SF fan. She said that the first time someone called her a space cadet she wondered if they had just read the same book she had.

She was right. She had it harder than I did, and I hadn't fully appreciated the difference before.

She came up a few minutes later with a copy of One Jump Ahead that she'd just bought. She was a lovely woman with large, smart eyes and a quick smile. She was holding the hand of an equally lovely daughter. The girl also loved to read. I've rarely been more proud to be an SF geek. I was trying to put words to my feelings, but before I could, they vanished.

On the off chance that she reads this blog, let me say now what I wish I could have said then. I wish the world weren't hard on smart girls (or on smart boys, come to that). I wish she and every other smart girl had been able to walk an easier path growing up. Still, though their journeys were difficult, they made it and turned into smart women who make the world far, far better than it would be without them.

As far as I'm concerned she and all the smart women I know are amazing, simply amazing, and I'm honored to know them.

1 comment:

J. Griffin Barber said...

Would that we each only met those challenges needed to improve ourselves instead of the random violence of youth...

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