Meeting Hanson, my idols — and how I lived to blog about it

You know, I fancy myself a sophisticated woman. I talk easily with most people and feel reasonably comfortable networking. I have a full-time job, write religiously and am devoted to my family and friends. Though I might not be the snappiest dresser around, I carry myself with an air of confidence.

In short, I think I’m a good person. And a grown-up. And a decidedly logical woman.

Until Taylor Hanson shows up.

Hanson is a real-life fountain of youth, my friends. One moment I’m 25 and chattering with my sister and boyfriend, and the next I’m 12 and wallpapering my bedroom with posters while listening to “Middle Of Nowhere” on repeat. It doesn’t matter how many concerts I’ve attended in the past (seven, I believe); heat overtakes my body the moment my favorite band appears.

On Saturday at The Sound Garden in Baltimore, Md., I arrived with Katie and Spencer to find a crush of girls milling around a makeshift stage in the tiny music store. It struck me immediately how much we all looked alike: young women in leggings, jeans or boots; some of us in glasses and some with ponytails; many in lightweight jackets or flowing tops. We were redheads, brunettes and blondes. We were all in our 20s.

We were all obsessed with Hanson.

Getting there early worked in our favor: we were right near the small stage for Hanson’s in-store performance. And as it drew closer and closer to 4:30 p.m., the magic time they were scheduled to appear, my eye rarely left the door. My attentiveness was rewarded with a glimpse of the Hanson brothers pulling up in a cab, then disappearing; my mouth opened and closed like a fish. Not my most glamorous moment.

“They’re here!” I hissed to Katie. I figured yelling that any louder would be the equivalent of shouting “FIRE!” in a crowded movie theatre and, you know . . . that’s illegal.

While we were waiting and my excitement was growing like a sparkly weed, I had this uneasy sense that I didn’t want Spencer to see me like this. I mean, I’m his girlfriend — a writer; a daughter; a friend. I pride myself on being level-headed and poised. As a general habit, I don’t run around screaming and crying over . . . another dude.

But, you know. Some things are beyond my control.

When Hanson finally made their way toward us, camera flashes exploded from all sides. Voices lifted up in madness, shouting and calling and whistling. Someone screamed. It was something about being soclose to them, and in broad daylight, that sent a serious tremor through me. Just to the right of the stage, I could have lunged forward and grabbed Taylor’s boot. And when they launched into “Shout It Out,” the title track from their new album, Katie and I were dancing with the best of them.

The performance went on this way: me singing and shouting; Katie and I grabbing each other when Taylor looked right at us and grinned; me worrying that Spencer thought I was a total nutjob.

“Are you going to break up with me after this?” I asked him between songs, taking in the scared deer-in-headlights look on his face.

“Yes,” he deadpanned.

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And (almost) let the noveling begin!

I admit, I’ve been slacking — after my promotion to editor in mid-October, I’ve found every possible reason not to work on my novels. I finished my second book in May, spent most of the summer editing it and then began the tiring, exhausting and frustrating experience of crafting the “perfect” query letter — only to be met with the demoralizing pain of generic rejections. And hey, it’s all right — I definitely didn’t expect this to be a cakewalk. I was proud that I’d finished two complete novels — start to finish, with editing, proofing and critiquing — in less than a year.

When I started a third in August, I was heavy into the querying process for the second book. Developing realistic, interesting characters engaging in fun, life-changing experiences fell to the back burner as I tried to find an agent to represent me. Though I won’t ever let the polite dismissals of agents discourage me from continuing to write, it is hard to receive e-mail after e-mail telling me thanks but no thanks. I write because I have to write, and I do write for me — but once you decide you’re going to try and become a published author, the game changes completely.

Well, all this procrastination and mental avoidance of the noveling issue is about to end — National Novel Writing Month begins tonight at midnight. I know some folks out there find it a bit silly and maybe just a tad insane, but NaNo was such an enlightening, entertaining and awesome experience last year, there’s no way I wouldn’t participate this go ’round. Cranking out 50,000 words in 30 days wasn’t too much of a problem for me last year, even working two jobs, getting ready for the holidays and attempting to spend time with my family and boyfriend. This year I’m in a much different place, but I’m still grappling with self-editing issues: I find it very hard to write and write and write without editing what I’ve written. I’m an editor by day, spending eight or so hours (roughly!) reading articles, press releases and proposals. To shift from scrupulous spell-checker to wildly uninhibited writer is a bit challenging.

And I’m terribly unprepared!

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Gearing up for November

I ran through yesterday with a bit of a fire in my belly — and I still have a few sparks rolling around in there now. I rolled all my windows down driving to work this morning, cranking up a live version of John Mayer’s “Why Georgia” and singing along at the top of my lungs . . . My hair’s a mess now, of course, but I’m feeling good! I guess I’ve been very busy at my day job, which is usually a catalyst for me to get a lot of other things accomplished. When it’s quiet and I find myself with an abundance of time on my hands, I seem to get lazy. When I’m crammed with projects to finish, running from one job to the next, I seem to appreciate my “free time” much more — and I get tons more finished in those precious few hours of space. This is one reason why NaNoWriMo works so well — you don’t have more time to write your book in 30 days. You create the time. The time materializes as you juggle and balanace all of the other forces in your life. And you succeed!

Speaking of succeeding, I purchased my new NaNo shirt last night — just so there’s no risk of me not having it by the time Nov. 1 rolls around. Last year we had a “write in” at the Borders in my hometown — and it was awesome! I organized everything through the regional message boards and was so excited with the reception. We had about 20 people attend, everyone armed with laptops, pens, notepads and, of course, tons of coffee. We took up a fourth of the cafe with our long tables, everyone writing furiously in 45-minute increments, then getting up to stretch, grab more caffeine or talk about some ideas going around in our heads. It was incredible how many of us were working on similar things — and how we all found each other to join in the experience together. I really hope we can stage another write-in this year, possibly at the same location. I’m thinking about Sunday, Nov. 2? If you’re in Southern Maryland and are interested, let me know!

In the meantime, it’s back to work . . . I’ve got a book release for Christopher Paolini’s new book Brisingr to attend tonight (I’m working, not quite so enjoying) and still have several projects to take off the floor this afternoon. No rest for the weary!