I had a beautiful time at last weekend’s Texas Book Festival, and met so many wonderful readers and authors. After attending the festival as an excited fan for so many years, it was really stunning to take a walk on the other side. I learned a lot – click to keep reading.

Author parties are deeply strange in a couple of ways. One is that you often don’t know who a writer is just by looking at them (unless they’re quite famous). So you may end up in conversations with a woman, and she says, “I’m Sarah,” and you say, “Oh, tell me about your work,” and it turns out she’s that Sarah who wrote that huge book that you’ve got on your bedside table.

Also, lots of writers are terrible at parties! We are an introverted lot, and becoming successful professionally doesn’t magically change that or cure people’s social anxiety. (Which I find weirdly reassuring – in an extrovert-privileging world, I love seeing models of success that don’t mandate “be great at small talk.”)

The biggest revelation of the night for me was in a conversation I had with fellow local author Samantha Clark (whose debut, The Boy, the Boat and the Beast, is a gorgeous middlegrade novel not to be missed). As debut authors, we both had the experience multiple times that night of speaking to some other enormously famous author and feeling like a wee tiny mouse in comparison. She and I stood together at the top of the marvelously fancy home where the TBF authors’ cocktail party was held, and looked down over Congress Avenue, talking about impostor syndrome. And I remembered how years ago, I’d been one of the folks down on the street, writing and hoping and thinking that someday, I’d be one of the people at this fancy party – and how funny it was that I was now here and feeling like I still hadn’t “arrived.” And I found this reassuring, too: no matter how fancy a party looks from the outside, there is someone at it feeling like they still don’t quite belong. Which is another way of saying, you never stop arriving.

Thank you, TBF, for a gorgeous weekend – here’s to many more, and to always arriving.