Yesterday I went to an Augusten Burroughs' lecture at the Smithsonian Ripley Center. It was very low key; the room didn't seat more than 300 people. He read an essay from his new book, then answered a ton of audience questions. I asked him if he still kept in contact with anyone from the family he grew up with. He said no.
Afterwards there was a book signing. I managed to be one of the first people in line. He signed my book with an Artist-Formerly-Known-as-Prince-like insignia, and I told him to enjoy DC. He was incredibly polite, and I was astounded by this. I always feel in these situations that I'm imposing on people I respect, and therefore I expect some curtness. So as much as I wanted to sit and chat, I just paid him a pleasantry. However, he seemed to enjoy every moment. I had to respect him even more for that.
Even though I want to be a successful writer, I feel that I would be a giant jerk to my fans. Well, maybe I wouldn't. I would want to help those that are struggling to make it, cause that is where I am now. But at the same time, if I had his popularity, I feel that there would be a lot of imposers. By this I mean people who are overzealous and think that there are no other fans but them.
Before the lecture started I asked the staff about the book signing. They said that due to time constraints, he would not be doing personal signings. When I sat down, I heard the woman next to me talking about all the things she was going to have him sign (tickets, all her books, etc). I told her that he would not be doing personal signings. She gave me a look of disdain. "Oh I can make him, " she said. "I drove all the way from Whereversville to see this!" She really was expecting him to personally sign all her paraphenalia, forgetting the fact that there were 200 other people waiting to get their book signed. It would also probably put Augusten and his people behind schedule. But she didn't care. It was as if he was there just for her.
I kind of hope he told her to screw off. But I bet he did what she wanted, only slightly begrudgingly. I hope she was the last person in line. I also hope that she fell down and open manhole upon exiting the Ripley Center.