Austin is a tough town.
If I were a musician, I would puke with excitement and fear if I were hired to play to the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Musicians are given an hour to capture an audience’s attention, imagination and hips. If the band doesn’t fill the bill, the audience wanders. After all, there are six other stages and six other bands awaiting the attention, imagination and hips of this fickle audience.
But are we so fickle?
ACL organizers ask these bands because they are good enough to transport us beyond the $160 dollars we paid for the wristband, beyond the 67 acres of beer laden grass, beyond the the mundane rituals of our lives.
Don’t we ask the same thing of our readers?
When we write the first lines of our picture books or the first chapters of our novels, we want to transport our readers, place them in the world of our stories; make them believe in our characters. If we don’t do that, our readers drift. They go to the kitchen and make a cheese sandwich. They leave the world of our stories.
There, in the middle of Austin City Limits on Friday night, Vampire Weekend hit every note, set every riff on fire, drew 65,000 people to its stage. It was magic.
Their performance was the kind of first sentence and first chapter we dream to write.