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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Starry Eyes--Jonathan Odell, and Remembering That Famous People Are Human, Too

Once, I met Edward Asner. I could not believe--I love Mary Tyler Moore reruns and he is brilliant in them. I gasped and googooged while he asked me a series of questions--"Where are you from? Where do you go to school? What are you interested in?" Slowly, I realized that I wasn't speaking to a demigod, but to a real person, like me. It was a great gift he gave me--that if I treated him like a fantasy, I was doing him a disservice. Sometimes, though, I need to relearn this lesson. 

For instance, when I was young, I approached acting roles with:  "How would Julie Harris play this part?" When I met this fierce, funny, unexpected actress, "You're here," I said, and in a shock of joy, I burst into tears. Of course, I'm cringing writing these words. I can only imagine how awkward that was for her. 

And when I went to the bathroom at a rehearsal studio in New York and saw the strong, intelligent face of Patti Lupone, also rehearsing there, my jaw dropped, and I said--yes, I really said--"but you go to the bathroom, too?" (My only excuse is that I was very young.) 

I started this blog because other writers said you have to have a web presence. I decided to blog every day. That was my commitment. I had no idea what I would write about--trust me, you can't write day after day about craft or the business of writing. There's not that much to say. 

I still have no idea what I'm doing. I *think* these are essays. I know I'm writing the kind of things I think about all day every day, and sometimes say out loud to people, who often stare at me then, with wrinkled foreheads--"Huh?"

But Jonathan Odell--who is an extraordinary novelist,  said on his Facebook page, "And I LOVE your blog. You are a superb writer." I have carried the glow of that comment with me since. Jonathan shares my passion for finding ways to talk about and heal bigotry. He takes stands in the world, and works hard to make them come to pass. I admire him not just as a fiction writer and an essayist, but as a human being. This praise from him means so much to me that I fear I sound as silly as when I burst into tears in front of Julie Harris. 

But I promise not to be shocked that he, too, uses the bathroom. 

Jonathan's books: 

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