The Panel Experience

Guest Author Follow-Up

Hello everyone!

Previously on AlessandraWrites (to be more accurate – more than a year ago, yikes!), I gushed about how I was invited to be a “guest-author” of sorts to an LAVC college classroom for an informal discussion along with a Q&A session about one of my short stories along with some of my peers from a previous class at LAVC.

Well, for those of you who know me, you can probably guess that I arrived late – I blame the parking. In the end however, I wasn’t the last one to arrive, ha! Either way, once I there I was introduced to the class along with a mention of my story “Lucero is Gone” – it was somewhat dreamlike when I saw some of the faces in the class light up and nod along to the mention of my piece.

As I took my seat I realized that I looked like most of the students in the class, still wet behind the ears in writing and felt supremely out of my league when compared to the rest of the panel. Although the other “guest-author’s” are my friends I found myself second-guessing the reasons why I was there. Nevertheless, as the discussion went on, I quickly recovered when I was asked about my story and what the driving force behind it that compelled me to write it was. Strangely enough I felt my eyes water a bit as I sought to find my voice to explain that most everything I write is very significant and singular to me because I write for family. My writings’ roots breach from deep within me, from a familial grasp, a sea of stories begging to be written whether they be tragic, happy or cosmic. On most days I write to live and others I live to write.

The experience became less heady as the Q&A relaxed with questions like how long had we been writing, what sorts of genres we write in and whether we had been published or not. The class was super attentive, respectful and very receptive as each one of the panel members took their moments to shine. The night ended with the opportunity for the students to speak to the panel members individually for a few moments before we made our way out of the classroom. I quickly noted that the students went straight to the “guest-authors” whose stories they had chosen to write their papers on. It dawned on me at that moment that perhaps no one had chosen mine and that perhaps it was a mistake to have come in the first place. And just as my baleful inner voice started to laugh, I took a step back as three students made their way to me. They had chosen my story to write their papers on and wanted to know more and to talk about what they loved most!!!!!!!!! A writer’s dream, to have a loving audience enthused and wanting more. This moment was unlike any other in my life. I know that I have much to grow as a writer and that I am no where near the likes of my idols such as Isabel Allende and Carlos Ruiz Zafón but it felt so good to receive such touching and heartfelt feedback and praise from strangers about my creation. One student told me that my story really touched him because of a similar situation in his family that he felt connected to my story. Wow! At this moment in my life, I can’t top that.

I’m just so grateful to have been apart of such a cool and rare opportunity that I am inspired to write more and to really dare myself to seek out new ways in telling my stories, to crush my fears and at times my menacing inner voice and to reach my goals, to one day be as talented as Allende and Zafón.

Happily, my night ended at Starbucks with some of the other panel members as we sipped on green tea lattes and caramel macchiato’s enjoying the evening breeze.  :)


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