A writer's liaison is a pompous, lollygagging fool.
That's what I thought I did on the first day of UWRF. I haunted sessions that I couldn't concentrate on because there were half-a-dozen other writers to hunt down. And I needed to find my writers to show that, indeed, there is a living, human face attached to that Liaison card, slipped in their goodie bags prior to their arrival.
And that my face was going to be offered to the smartest people, who have been around the world and know how to holler for a ride either in NYC or Gang Pojok. People who have achieved immortality by making real dollars and yens out of their published not-as-ebooks-or-godforbid-blogs books.
Every time the moment of truth arrived, I said, "Hello, Ms. Genius-Who've-Sailed-the-Publishing-Seas, my name is Alia Makki. I'm your liaison officer. If there's anything you need..."
Of course, by the time I reach "Liaison" in my recitation, I would have
seen imagined it running it in their minds what a pitiful hobbit was standing in front of them, and whether it was amusement or alarm that's stopping them from squishing me with their godly writerliness.
Maybe I ought to have played it cool. "Hey, man, I'm Alia Makki and here are my boobs, please sign on them. First name on the left boob, please. Yes, thank you. Oh and by the way, even though I've never read any of your books, I'M A HUGE FAN!!"
By the second day, I had already met most of them. Yihaw! That meant I was free to attend sessions. If nobody from the volunteers base camp called for back up. If all of the writers showed up on time for their sessions. If no other liaison officer called to set her writer a meeting with one of my writers, and I didn't need to call the search team to find my writers and pass them that holy grail of message about a meeting that is supposed to ... whoops. Forget it. I just missed the meeting without finding my writers.
My landlady banged on my door during the night. She thought I was getting murdered. No, madam, I said, it was just a nightmare about a couple of writers I couldn't find, and an avalanche of failure burying me under a crumbling tower of inefficiency.
Now. I get it. Track them down while they're still in their pajamas. Call their rooms. Paralytic shyness can shove it up the telephone's hungover microphone. My voice must be used in two-way conversations instead of the monologous audiobook recording.
There. That wasn't so hard, was it? And look, there's a lovely room below the main event lounge where we can step out of a window and jump a gorgeous Ubud ravine. I didn't just say "shut up the fuck up" to that girl, did I? DID I? Oh sweet muses...
I know this game. I know where my writers are. I know they will obey me. Bring it, y'all. Oh not you, Ms. Soft-and-sweet lady writer, I meant Mr. Mal...MISTER MALEENA, WHY ARE YOU ILL, SIR?! HAVE YOU CALLED THE DOCTOR? THE WITCH DOCTOR? EVERY VOODOO MASTER IN UBUD?! I'LL CALL THE AUSTRALIAN, AMERICAN, ZIMBABWEAN OR WHATEVER EMBASSY OF GODKNOWSWHAT COUNTRY YOU CAME FROM TO SEND YOUR PREFERRED DRUG IN AN EMAIL ATTACHEMENT AND GET YOUR HEAD RIGHTED ENOUGH BEFORE YOUR SESSIONS AND CLOSING PARTY TONIGHT, Sir.
Hell, no, I ain't gonna be your date for a writer's party, are you crazy? I've got Mr. So-and-so to chase down and help him find a cheap enough souvenir worth the 16 hours trip he's made all the way here.
There was no day 5. The festival, indeed, was just 4 days long, officially.
Unofficially, well, let's just say that I'm still recovering from Night 2, Night 3, and definitely (just don't tell my mom), Night 4.
No, don't give me that look. Even if none of us wrote more than half-minded tweets for days, I bet my
hobbit's liaison's ass that all the writers and volunteers who were in Ubud for UWRF are still in the same place right now. That place where their ears are still ringing with music, life and Ubudsickness.
Bet next year's festival on it.