George R.R. Martin and I were at the same signing table at WorldCon in Chicago this year. His line snaked toward Iowa. Mine had one person in it, and she was looking for directions to the bathroom. George sat for hours and hours and signed a boatload of books. During a pause, I chatted him up. I didn’t have one of his books on me, but seeing that many people get signatures, I felt one helluvan itch. So I grabbed one of my sad, nobody-wanted books and introduced myself.
“You don’t know me,” I told George, “but we kinda circle each other on Amazon.”
George scrunched up his face. Scratched his beard. I could tell that he not only had never heard of me, he doubtless hadn’t been on Amazon to check the rankings of any of his works in over a decade.
“You’re like, one through five on science fiction,” I told him. “I’m number six.”
“Oh.” I think George realized that I was a wannabe writer, not just someone out for an autograph.
“Can I get your autograph?” I asked.
Now he could see that I was a bit of both.
“You want me to autograph your book?”
He indicated the copy of Wool in my hands. I shrugged. I had nothing else. “Maybe you could make it out to #6 or something,” I told him.
George signed the book: “To #6. Keep trying!” And then he graced the inside of Wool with a gorgeous and florid signature full of curls and swoops and confidence.
It sits on my bookshelf right now.
And George? I’m trying.
*(Full disclosure: George is one awesome and gracious dude and far better a writer than I ever hope to become. His status as my nemesis is both lighthearted on my part and somewhat dampened on his part by the fact that he still, to this day, has no idea who I am).