Well, none of you came! Or, if you did, you didn't say hello. It's okay, I wouldn't have gone either if I wasn't on the panel. I understand. Based on my blog reader e-mails this week, there's a good chance you live in Turkey anyway. But you missed a fine panel. I think it went well, and I'm even convinced that no one realized that for about a minute at some point, while one of the other panelists was talking, I completely zoned out thinking about something else and only came back to attention when the moderator said my name and asked me a question. I'd estimate about 30 or 35 people showed up -- they sat around the perimeter of the room and the panelists stood at the front, leaning against a very uncomfortable piece of furniture. By a show of hands, it seemed like the vast majority of people in the room were lawyers, and many were aspiring writers. I sold a good number of books, which made my publisher happy. And while I was signing books at the end, I accidentally knocked over a glass of red wine someone had left on the table. Amazingly, the glass didn't break. Even more amazingly, I blocked the fall of the wine almost completely, so it only landed on my pants and the floor, and missed everyone else. My pants are at the dry cleaners. Should their efforts fail, The Gap probably still has a few pairs left. My publisher gave me a case of books to take to the event -- that's 24 books. I needed to sell at least a few, because 24 books are pretty much too heavy for me to comfortably carry. I made it okay with the carton from my publisher's office at 23rd and 5th to the event at 27th and Lexington, but I was very glad to have fewer to carry back with me.
The other panelists were more lawyer than me. One of them, Gretchen Rubin, who clerked for Justice O'Connor , has a blog called "The Happiness Project" where she's writing about the year she's spending testing out the principles and ideas in a bunch of books about happiness. I've read a bunch of the happiness books (and blogged about them). I can't figure out why Gretchen's happiness blog is as compelling as it is, and I'm afraid it might be for the wrong reasons. When I first looked at it, I ended up reading a good portion of the archives, and really had to force myself to stop. That doesn't happen much, especially with blogs. I think I was mostly just surprised at how earnest the blog is. How genuinely she seems to be taking on the project of incorporating all of these happiness principles into her life. There's no cynicism there. And maybe it's a comment on the state of the world today that the lack of cynicism seemed so unusual to me while reading it. Like, if I was testing out happiness theories, and writing about it, I'd probably spend most of my time talking about how I think most of it is useless gobbledygook. But maybe that's why I cry myself to sleep at night. No, I'm kidding, I don't. Well, usually. And I'd like to think there are lots of people more cynical than I am about the state of the world. In any case, Gretchen's blog: worth taking a look.
A bunch of the audience questions at the panel were about blogging and blogs... how to start a blog (easy!), what the best blog service to use is (honestly, having used both Blogger and Typepad, I think they're both pretty good and wouldn't necessarily tell someone to choose one over the other... Typepad's a lot more customizable, but Blogger's completely free... but they're both fine, I have few if any complaints), whether to blog about work (maybe not, if you like your job more than your blog, but if not...). The moderator (who was really terrific, and has a website here) sent the panelists a list of topics to think about beforehand, just a general guide to what she was thinking she'd ask about. I think it might be sort of interesting to write up my answers to those in a blog post -- not necessarily exactly what I said at the panel, since I can't remember what I said, but just so you can feel like you were there, even though none of you came.
But I'm heading to dinner with a friend, so I'll do that later tonight or tomorrow. I know, so exciting. In any case, panel was good, and I feel like the more of these kinds of things I do, the more comfortable I get, which is a good thing. I felt like I did an okay job and wasn't as ridiculously terrible as I kind of fear I'll be whenever I have to do something like this. Even got approached afterwards about a speaking gig elsewhere, which is flattering and looks like the chance to discuss it will get me a free lunch at Balthazar -- so I can't complain.