Friday, August 13, 2010

BlogHer'10 NYC (Day 1): She Writes, a Modern Day Literary Salon in the Midst of BlogHer

A year ago, I wrote a Sunday Salon post inspired by my reading of The Red Leather Diary. (And speaking of which, happy birthday two days late, Florence Wolfson.) In that post, which was noticed by author Lily Koppel and later mentioned on her blog, I pondered the idea of what it must have been like being part of a literary salon in New York City.

I wrote, on 7/29/2009: How I would have loved to have been part of Florence Wolfson's literary salons .... Can you imagine what it would have been like? Discussing literature and exchanging ideas, escaping from one's everyday life for the time it takes to write a blog post and being something more than what we do as a profession or a career or whoever we pay the bills striving for something more than materialism from getting rich at any cost?

And then it struck me:  I am part of such a salon, just in a different form than what once was in the 1930s. If you think about it, it's really not all that different than what we are doing here, online, with our blogs and in forums like She Writes .... It's especially apropos this weekend, I think, with the finale of BlogHer '09 in Chicago and several of us (myself included) beginning to make our plans for being at BlogHer'10 in New York City (how apropos, with the subject of this post!) a whole year from now.

Attendees listening to Kamy and Deborah.
A literary salon was kind of like what last Thursday night was like, as a group of us got together pre-BlogHer in Greenwich Village for a She Writes meet up.   

(I do meet-ups much better than parties. I'm so not the party girl.  Proof of my non-party girl status is a) the fact I wasn't invited to any of the BlogHer parties, b) nor was I even aware that I needed to get my sorry self on the list for them, and c) I needed to ask people who the entertainment was. C'mon, tell me I'm not the only person on Earth who hasn't heard of Gavin DeGraw.)

Deborah and Kamy welcoming the group.
So it was that I was thrilled to be worthy of an invite to the She Writes meet up, party, whatever you want to call it.  A gathering.  Of women, of writers. Those who love literature and writing and are passionate about the craft.  A group of incredibly talented and creative women, all talking about writing and process and the how's and the why's. 

After successfully navigating the subway, my roommate Florinda and I promptly got lost - wandering through ... the Lower East Side?  Chinatown?  Greenwich Village?  All of the above?  Whatever. It didn't matter. Somehow we found our way to Lolita, a cute little funky place where we met She Writes founder Kamy Wicoff as well as Deborah Siegel, who is She Writes' VP of Education. 

One of the good things about occasionally getting lost is that you never know what you might fnd. We were fascinated by this scene in Greenwich Village (I think it was in Greenwich Village) of this concert ... a salon of a different type, perhaps.
Deborah was also the recipient of my First Official BlogHer Fangirl Moment, when I finally made the connection that she is also the blogger who founded Girl w/ Pen, truly one of my very favorite blogs.  I absolutely love Girl w/ Pen and was, frankly, mortified that I didn't make the connection between Deborah and the blog sooner.  Talk about embarrassing.

In addition to Deborah and Kamy, I also chatted with food blogger Bonnie Tandy Leblang from Bite of the Best and the delightful Densie Webb, who blogs at wordForward and is the author of the very newly-published book, The Cure. 

Just as I didn't realize Deborah was the same Deborah of Girl w/ Pen - I am still mortified about that- I also didn't realize that the book staring me in the face as I signed my credit card receipt at the BlogHer bookstore was written by the same Densie Webb who I enjoyed chatting with so much the night before. I will blame my stupidity on the fact that the heat of the subway platform (and that of New York City itself) evaporated whatever functioning brain cells I had.  
Bonnie, Densie, Florinda, and Kamy

I would have loved to have talked with each and every person there, about writing, about blogging, about their books. But, it was books that Florinda and I were in search of.  Before it got too dark, we wanted to try and find McNally Jackson and possibly even The Strand since we knew they were somewhat in the vicinity.   

We eventually would, but not this night, despite my blatant tourist tendencies to just walk up to anyone on the street and engage them in conversation about directions.  (I think I've been living below the Mason-Dixon line just a little bit too long.)

I shouldn't have worried.  We found our way home just fine and the conversation about books and publishing and writing would continue on Saturday, during the ecosystem of publishing session that Kamy moderated and Florinda spoke on the panel of (and recaped very well in this post, "What's the 'Publishing Ecosystem Evolving Into?").

Thanks to Kamy and Deborah for organizing a great meet-up and for including me!

"Florence's city had a heartbeat. She was there, at the center of things. The sexy, steely city operated like a well-oiled machine before her eyes. The thundering El tracks created a filmstrip of sun and shadows on Third, Sixth, and Ninth Avenues. Boxy automobiles with names like Pierce-Arrow, Stutz, Packard, and Studebacker drove down the streets. One young man taking her for a ride in his new roadster dared to rev up to forty!

The streets were crowded. Men wore fedoras and women wore gray, brown, and occasionally maroon suits, with calf-length skirts cut on the bias and razor-sharp pleats, all clicking along on high heels. They seemed to be walking too fast, like actors in a jumpy olf black-and-white reel. Not a strand of hair protruded from under the hard line around the faces. The world was spinning faster and faster. No one wanted to be left behind." 
~ Florence Wolfson, The Red Leather Diary (by Lily Koppel)

copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


Florinda said...

I'm glad we went to that meet-up, but I think I'd have liked it even more if it had been held in an actual "salon," where conversation would have been a little easier! (And we did get a spontaneous little tour of Chinatown...)

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

Man, that sounds too cool!