Monday, October 25, 2010

How NASA and I Came to Be Friends

Five days before I left on my European tour, I got an e-mail from NASA.

I've gotten a lot of interesting e-mails since becoming an author. Aggravated letters from ASCAP. Letters from the First Lady of Wisconsin. Readers telling me that they put on SHIVER as a school play.

But it's safe to say I never really anticipated NASA. I'm not even good at algebra. I am, in fact, willfully bad at it.

So I was a bit bemused with this e-mail, which was NASA asking if I was willing to speak at the November 4th TEDx conference at Langley. Langley, as in where NASA does their thing. I did what any author would have done. Assumed it was a spam mail and sent it to my publicist saying "look what they're sending me these days, what a laugh, right?"

She was not laughing.

Which is why I found myself on a conference call with NASA and my publicist a few days later. Again, these are not words I ever thought I would be stringing together.

NASA: So you will be speaking to a crowd of your 1700 of your peers.

ME: Peers?

NASA: Intellectuals.

ME: I think you misunderstand what I do for a living.

NASA: Ha. Ha.

ME: What is it you want me to talk about?

NASA: Just be profound.*

ME: Again, I believe you misunderstand what I do for a living.

NASA: Ha. Ha.

ME: Any other advice?

NASA: Write the best speech of your life.**

*They really said this.
**Also this.

So this is how I find myself writing a blog post about how I will be speaking at the TED conference on November 4th. About profound things. Also, it will be the best speech of my life.

Also, it will be 12 minutes long. NASA wanted to know. So it'll be twelve minutes long. I think it will also involve a chair. I've been thinking about it, and I think that it'll be a lot easier to be profound if I have a chair on the stage with me.

If you're not one of my 1700 peers, you can also watch it online, NASA said. They told me this after I made a strangled noise following the words "seventeen hundred." "Oh, don't worry," said NASA. "The true number is much larger. 100,000 people will watch the video afterward."

If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go do some algebra.


Anonymous said...

Hahahaha funny post. I can't believe it!!! NASA? REALLY?! I thought you were joking at first. Well you'll do good, don't worry. I'll be watching!! (online of course)

KT said...

Hahaha that is hilarious and so freaking awesome! NASA?! I'll be another "peer" contributing to the 100,000 video watchers :) You can do it!

Janelle said...

That is SO awesome!!!! You'll be great!!


Crystal Cook said...

This is the best Maggie post ever!!!! :):):) I'm still smiling at your conversation with NASA. He he!! Good luck, I know you will be deeply profound and intellectual. :) Can't wait to watch it!

alanasays said...

That is so exciting!! I can't wait to see it. I have no doubts you'll be amazing! :)

Solvang Sherrie said...

That is so cool! I've watched those TED videos online before. There was one of Elizabeth Gilbert and she was very profound and inspiring :) I have no doubt you will be too!

Zoƫ Marriott said...

Holy granola. I can't believe I was freaking out last week over dealing with 60 schoolkids. This post makes me feel extremely weaksauce. But good luck!

Maggie Stiefvater said...

I think Holy Granola sums it up.

Jonathon Arntson said...

Watching TED vids is one of my guilty pleasures. That whole operation amazes me.

Johanna said...

Haha this is amazing. Be this funny and everyone will love it.

I would be shaking with nerves if I were you, just because I can't hold speeches.

Good luck!

Adrianna said...

Wow. No stress.

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