This time last year, I had the pleasure of meeting my childhood idol, R. L. Stine. But it almost didn’t happen. Tickets, though free, had to be reserved online within a narrow timeframe. By the time I clicked, they were all gone! Imagine my horror! I was attending the event as an author, and to know that Stine would be mere buildings away was just too much.
I didn’t lose hope, though. On the way to the event, I decided that I had to stop by our local bookstore to pick up a Stine book for him to sign just in case I got the chance to attend. I purchased A Midsummer Night’s Scream [affiliate link]. I had never heard of the book, but the cover was creepy and the blurb sounded interesting. So, I bought it. The whole way up, I hoped that someway, somehow I’d get in.
Thank goodness for great friends! By the time the event happened, a generous friend had given me a ticket. Then, while I was in line, a new friend I met while there, offered their extra VIP ticket. While I stood there with my lovely laminated VIP ticket (the girl who a day earlier had no ticket!), I went to add the book to my Goodreads to-read pile. It turns out that the book I brought him to sign was his worst rated book ever. My cheeks flushed, my heart raced. What would he think? Will me bringing this book evoke negative feelings? As an author myself, I thought it might. We all have books that are more popular than others, but I only had one chance to meet Stine and thank him for countless hours of childhood fun and terror! The last thing I wanted was to rain on his parade. What was a girl to do?
Having a VIP ticket meant that I got to sit on the first row! SO close! I hung on every word he said. He was delightfully funny and inspiring. No surprise.
Then it was time to get our books signed. Since we sat so close, we didn’t have to wait long. Within minutes, I was next. Me and THAT book. I bit my lip, wiped my sweaty palms down my jeans, and anxiously waited for him to speak when I handed him the book.
“Wow. No one ever brings this book. I love this book. It’s nasty,” he said, a smile stretching across his face. My heart warmed, and I felt a sense of pride. I had worried for nothing. My fears of disappointing my favorite childhood author immediately dissipated. I had made him smile. Like all the times his words had made me smile. And it felt great.
Riding home on a literary high, I realized there was a lesson in this. Authors fear reviews. It’s a natural part of being an artist, and sometimes we miss the mark, no matter how hard we try. But despite what other people think of our work, it doesn’t take away our own love for it. And it shouldn’t. I suspect Stine figured that out long ago. We don’t create for other people. We create because we’re compelled to understand the world better, and writing helps us do that. We’re called to it. Our books don’t always have to be “good,” but I can assure you that our intentions are. I left there that day realizing that he and I and all authors are more alike than we ever realize. We’re constantly being told how good or bad we are. It’s sometimes difficult to remember that the only thing that truly matters is that we are worthy. Our stories are worthy of being written, shared, and experienced. The verdict isn’t nearly as impactful when we live in that truth. 🖤
Vanessa K. Eccles
Books, life, and travel.
Author of FABLED, RED RIBBONS, and OF LOVE & LEGEND // Founder of The Faithful Creative Magazine