Note to readers: This letter begins a series of guest posts by my friend and author Katie Rose Guest Pryal. I’ll publisher her letters here on my blog, and she’ll publish my letters to her on her blog.
Fourteen summers ago, I first walked into the check-in area at the writer’s conference where I met you. The lady who was running the show pointed to the map of the rooms to show me where I’d be staying. I knew I’d been paired with a roommate, and I read the girl’s name on the map: “Lauren Faulken.”
Apparently, that’s all of your name that would fit in the little boxes representing the rooms. However, my short name fit fine: Katie Guest. Fourteen summers ago when we first met, that was my name. I wasn’t “Pryal” yet. I didn’t yet have four names.
Fourteen summers later, for a variety of reasons, I’m certain we’d both give that conference lady fits. To start with, we both have long names that won’t fit neatly in her boxes. And look, I win now:
Lauren Faulkenberry = 19 characters
Katie Rose Guest Pryal = 22 characters
No, our names certainly aren’t neat and pretty.
But we’d give the conference lady fits because, now that we’re in our late thirties, we do not do what anyone tells us to do any more. (Not sure we ever did.)
What must she have thought when she was putting us together as roommates fourteen summers ago? You were a known quantity, perhaps, as a return conference-goer: quiet, easy going. And then there was me, just another young person to behave and be in awe of the fancy writers she brought in every summer.
Oh man, how completely and totally incorrect she was. You may be quiet, Lauren, and you may be easy going, but you are about as easy to push around as a brick wall. And I’ve never been in awe of anyone famous simply because they are famous in my entire life. I was far more in awe of you than of the writers she would bring in. My inappropriate lack of authorial respect got us both in trouble. Sorry about that.
Well, there was the one exception you and I both know about, and I think you agree with me. You know, the one author with the mason jars. We respected him not because he’s famous now—after all, fourteen summers ago, he’d never even published a novel. But he was a genius, and he was steadfast, and he was never too good to talk to us.
Fourteen summers later, and here we are. It took a while, and the roads were curvy, right? But my novel came out, and your novel came out, and heck, you were interviewed in USA Today. Who saw any of that coming fourteen summers ago? Today, we’re both in the midst of writing multi-book series, and, this is the amazing thing, we have the same dang publisher.
We sure did a lot before turning 40. But we’re just getting started. After all, life is long.
Read my responses to Katie’s letters on Katie’s blog: katieroseguestpryal.com.