Posted on Feb 9, 2015 in Blog
I met Roxane Gay yesterday.

Roxane Gay.

Roxane Gay.

She came to IFOA and gave a reading, and a talk. I went for a late lunch with the altogether fabulous Dana of Editorial Eyes fame beforehand, wherein we fangirled and philosophized and ruminated on all that is right (and not so much so) with Canadian publishing. We also discussed Harlequin cowboys and cowboys in kilts, as you do.

And then we went to the talk. And the room was packed and I was so thrilled for her, this writer I’ve come to admire so much through the years, this woman who could command this kind of space. And she was introduced and came out onto the stage and she was every bit as beautiful and powerful and amazing as I thought she’d be, and she took a photo of the crowd and had us laughing before she’d said five words, and then she asked is Janet here? meaning Janet Somerville, queen of all things book and book-related in this country, and I saw Janet wave from the back and I was happy for her and also so jealous because Roxane Gay called her out by name.

And then Roxane turned back to the audience and she said, is Amanda here? and I jumped up like an idiot, a crazy idiot, and I waved my arm and squeaked out “Yes! I’m right here!” and she smiled and looked back at the both of us and then just said, “I know them both from Twitter.”

And then she began her reading and her talk and I was basically done, finished, in heaven and blissed out and whatever else you want to call it.

Roxane Gay called me out by name.

Roxane Gay called me out by name. 

It was a lovely talk. So funny. So honest. So brave in so many places. I tried to live-tweet parts of it and then had to stop because it was all too much, too hard to think about tweeting when all I wanted to do was sit and absorb and think thank you thank you thank you a hundred times over.

Topics covered: Channing Tatum (but of course), Nick Jonas, publishing two books in one year, the backlash against Bad Feminist, the love for Bad Feminist, An Untamed State’s journey to publication, the struggle around the perceived need to always have something to say on the Internet, some response to whatever’s going on. Also random strangers wanting hugs on the street, and Jupiter Ascending, and Bill Cosby, and how nonfiction takes the writer into all kinds of places, and how it is possible to be both a shy and public person all at once. And a hundred other things.

She was so gracious, and so funny, and the whole thing was so wonderful and I did not want it to end, but end it did, and I filed out with everyone else and took my place in line with my books clutched tight, these books of hers that I’d read and loved, these books that had saved my life in some kind of way last year, when I read them and understood that it was possible to be flawed and contradictory and still want and hunger for more, for a better self, okay to be stumbling and sad on the page and still have that be part of what one shows to the world.

And I went up to her, and gave her my books to sign, and she said, “Amanda? As in, Amanda Leduc?” and when I said yes she smiled again and said, “It’s so nice to finally meet you.”

I wanted to say so many things. (Like: thank you for pronouncing my last name correctly!) But you don’t get a lot of time in a book signing line, so I watched her sign my copies and I thanked her and told her how happy I was that things have gone so well for her, how much I think she deserves everything that has happened as a result of her writing. I’m sure she’s heard it a million times by now but I really truly do believe it.

“Thank you,” she said. “That means so much.”

We talked a second more about her stay in Toronto (22 hours in total, fun fun), and she said, “Next time, we should hang out,” and you know, it may or it may not come to pass but oh, what a lovely thing to have someone say to you, someone you’ve admired for so long. 

“Yes,” I said. “Yes, definitely.” 

And then I got out of the line, and she went on signing books, and I met up with my friends and we dispersed back out into the snow and went our ways and it all feels like a dream now, the loveliest dream I’ve had in a long time.