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My Trip to Meet Margaret Atwood and Visit Medium in San Francisco

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The Curious Cat Blog is all about writing, for writers, by a writer.


My Trip to Meet Margaret Atwood and Visit Medium in San Francisco

Carina Sitkus

If you cool cats have been using your precious curiosity to wonder why I haven’t blogged, the answer is I found myself on an impromptu overnight trip to San Francisco after winning a Medium writing prompt contest. More on that in a bit. 

Here’s a view of outside Boston from the plane.

Takeoff looked cooler because the lights from all the buildings were really close, but my phone was off at that point. This is a shot from on the way back, somewhere near Arizona. 

Like going to the ocean, being in a plane is one of those things that can make you philosophical about life (so does being up at 2:30 in the morning, bleary-eyed, to catch an early morning flight). 

I forget which comedian, but one of them said that every time we shoot through the sky in our metal tubes, we basically give God the middle finger, daring him to make us crash. The fact that we’re able to fly is nothing short of amazing. 

I had the rare opportunity from our position on the tarmac to watch the plane before ours head like a bullet down the runway and takeoff. I’m always filled with a  childlike sense of wonder at airports—I can’t understand why people keep their window shades closed because my face is usually pressed against the glass, soaking it all in. I love the speed, too, just before the wheels lift off the ground. I wish I could legally drive that fast on the highway… what a rush. 

From the air even the eyesores look organized into plots and designs. It’s a great perspective for people like me who’d like to organize the entire world and all its tiny little pieces.  It’s already done, just on a macro scale. Flowing rivers run still while static lights become flickers as the plane rushes past unseen tree branches and buildings. How cool would it be to design a flipbook on the ground that you could only see from the plane? Ok, I won’t get too off track, but this is what traveling via plane does to my mind. The people you meet in the span of traveling only a few hours or days by yourself is also incredible and really has me itching to take a solo trip to Europe. 

Ok, you’re warmed up, so now I’ll talk about meeting Margaret Atwood. 

          Me in my Medium swag. Thanks, Julie!

          Me in my Medium swag. Thanks, Julie!

For context, the contest I won was this writing prompt. If you haven’t thought about blogging on Medium, I really suggest you start. Read more on that here

I arrived at the Medium offices in the Phelan building and immediately met Julie Russell, who is the head of IT at Medium, and her friend who was also attending the interview taping with Atwood.  I also got the chance to briefly meet/see Ev Williams and some NaNoWriMo folks, including Executive Director Grant Faulkner and his wife, Heather Mackey. It was inspiring to meet so many full-time “something elses” who also call themselves writers.

Just as the interview taping with Margaret Atwood was about to start, host and writer Kelly Corrigan pulled me to the front behind the set, making my entire life complete (or so I thought, until Margaret Atwood retweeted me later that night).

Atwood was fascinating, and Kelly Corrigan was nothing short of amazing and completely hilarious herself. If you haven’t checked out the Foreword tapings/interviews, get on that immediately. The last taping was with BJ Novak from The Office and here is a piece where Kelly interviews Lena Dunham.   

The interview with Atwood explored topics ranging from women and the workplace, the future of science, klim (Google it), how being in nature affects a child’s education, Atwood’s new collection of short fiction, and feminism—interestingly enough, Atwood says she can’t say for certain whether or not she agrees with others’ assertions about her being a feminist writer until they define what feminism means to them personally. I won’t spoil too much because I want you to be able to experience it for yourself when the interview goes live.  I’ll be sure to post it when it does! 

In the meantime, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Stone Mattress. I started to read it on the plane and already can’t get enough.

What’s your favorite Atwood read? Have you ever had the opportunity to meet one of your favorite writers? How did it affect you as a writer?

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