The rain continued its steady downpour over Austin as my boyfriend and I pulled up to the Performing Arts Center. Immediately I noticed the lack of solo adults in the face of an abundance of teens and children accompanied by their respective guardians. This, however, just added to the magic of the evening. Although I am now a full-fledged adult (picture me crying silent tears), childhood still fascinates me, which in turn continues my fascination in children's literature. When I happened upon this Book People event for Brian Selznick's latest work The Marvels, I knew I had to attend.
Having never seen any photos or videos of Selznick, I had no idea what to expect from this man whose work I had admired for years. When he walked onto the stage, immediately I noticed three things: red socks, black tie, we should be best friends. When he began to speak, immediately I was inspired. His voice rang with a humble confidence; he knew that we were captivated by him, that his work was marvelous, yet he was gracious and never once bombastic. He spoke about his inspirations, spanning from Sendak's wordless storytelling of the Wild Rumpus to the Severs' House in London. He shared his process, and even showed his editor's flood of feedback, corrections, and notes on his drafts, about which he joked that the one thing his editor enjoyed was a quote that he himself did not even write.
As an aspiring artist who dreams of one day publishing children's books, seeing the amount of time, research, and rewrites from which Selznick's books are born, restored my dwindling hope. He reminded me that anything worth having (in my case, a career in the art world) requires perseverance and an unwavering confidence in oneself and one’s abilities. He proved that even a fraction of an idea is a seed that can grow and flourish into a full masterpiece if only one nourishes it, not allowing it to whiter due to neglect. Perhaps most importantly, he taught me that having a laugh at oneself is a healthy outlet for any foibles one may have or blunders one may make.
The time to meet Selznick approached as the audience fell in line for the book signing portion of the evening, and suddenly I lost every ounce of cool in my entire body. I vaguely remember saying my camera was for his face (yes, I honestly believe that in an alternate universe I did indeed die of embarrassment). I distinctly remember him being incredibly kind about my obvious nerves, and him asking me after my having taken his portrait, "Did your parents know you were going to be a photographer when they named you?" I don't think I have ever been more star-struck or, if you like corny literature jokes, Wonderstruck.