I spent Valentine’s Day falling more deeply in love with books and story telling. I was at the Woodstock Writers Festival, where people gathered to share their stories. As someone who feels rather small at times, flinging food thoughts and quirky tales out into the ether, hoping they fall onto the screen of an interested reader, it’s nice to connect with others who do the same. Fellow story flingers. All hoping someone might read what we have to say. And maybe even smile.
When I first entered the Bearsville Theater (where the festival took place), I felt awkward to say the least. In addition to never having been to a writers’ conference in my life, I was also uncharacteristically late (I’d stayed out a tad bit late the night before eating and drinking my way through New York City…a day of wine, novelty candy from Dylan’s, and Jacques Torres Chocolates).
I was greeted by the beautiful eccentricity and gusto of Martha Frankel, who directed me toward the auditorium and, at first, intimidated the pants off me. Embarrassed by my lateness and flustered by my seemingly impaired speech, I slunk sheepishly into the back row of the theater.
I also realized that I was probably the youngest person in the room. The conference focused on Memoir Writing, and being twenty-four, it struck me that I hadn’t quite reached the proper vintage to start memoiring my life. Still, I began to feel more comfortable in my seat and sat like a sponge, taking it all in.
During a both comical and poignant panel discussion with authors Dani Shapiro, Shalom Auslander, John Bowers and Marion Winik, someone commented that, “Our stories don’t go away,” and despite the fact that my memory struggles to remember this afternoon’s classes, I found the sentiment reassuring. They are just as much a part of us as our noses, our hands, or unfortunately, our berdeeberdums. And thus, they are uniquely ours to tell.
Although, I’m not about to subject the world to “The Life and Times of Marissa Sertich,” I do have stories about failed caramel sauces, making my first sponge cake, icing 1000 cupcakes, my secret Marketing degree, and dropping out of law school to peruse a love of cookies. And I plan to tell them.