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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

A few hundred writers, free magazines, and beer.

Last night I went to the Printer’s Ball at the Hothouse. My former roommate, an editorial assistant at Poetry Magazine, helped organize it. So in addition to being a writer and wanting to network, I wanted to show him support he gave me when I was a stand-up comic.

I got there a few minutes early, showed my ID, and got my free bag from Poetry Mag. In the middle of the room was a stand filled with free magazines from all over Chicago. Some I’d heard of, some I hadn’t.

Here is the dilemma–free magazines. Magazines that cost up to $10 each. Multiple issues of magazines. FREE. You feel greedy, so you move slowly. You want other people to not think you are being greedy and taking everything, but you want to take EVERYTHING. Hmmm… Stop Smiling. Do I have this issue or not? Maybe not, better take it. Hmmm? What is this in the envelope? Just in case, I’ll take two.

After non-greedily taking one of most available issues (and leaving behind Time Out Chicago, The Reader, and New City.) I turned to face the room. I’d been psyched before I went to the Printer’s Ball for one selfish reason. Yesterday I got a link from Gaper’s Block and had a couple hundred new readers on my blog. It should follow that some of those readers would be at the Printer’s Ball. I might meet people who had read my blog earlier in the day. “Oh, why thank you. I’m so glad you took some time to read my blog. Here’s my card, we should get a drink some time.”

I even put on high heeled boots and a skirt to prepare for meeting a nice jewish writer boy that I can settle down with. Nope. I turned around and saw not one face I recognized and since people don’t wear their IP address on their chest–how did I know who’d been referred to my blog yesterday.

How do writer’s socialize anyway? How do these writers know people? We write alone in offices and diners. I know very few writers socially and even fewer professionally. Eeek! I decided if I got a beer, then I’d just be drinking and reading alone in a room full of hip writers with black framed glasses, spikey hair, and more visible tatoos than mine.

Instead of trying to talk to a stranger and do the networking I meant to do, I left after 20 minutes. It was just too intimidating to try and talk to these people. On my way out I was happy to see a line that stretched halfway down the block. I hopped on the red-line with four other writers who’d left early. We each sat alone on the train and browsed our bag of free chicago writing–all thinking about when we’ll be the author listed on the cover.

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