It’s not everyday you get to sit down and eat tacos with one of your idols. (Don’t judge me, I’m full blooded Mexican, it’s what we do.) No, but seriously, I was scrolling down Twitter last Tuesday and saw that New York Time’s Best Selling Author, Shea Serrano, was going to be in Austin. He tweeted out that he would be in town and that he wanted to meet up with some of his fans. That’s all it took, one tweet. I gathered the troops up, grabbed my copy of Shea’s book, The Rap Year Book, and headed out the door.
Before I get into the conversation we had, I’d like to formally introduce one of the true masters of the pen at this point and time. In my opinion, he might just be one of the top two Tweeters in the world, @sheaserrano, whose #1 you ask? Well that’s pretty simple, yours truly of course, @P_ACasas. I came across Shea’s work a couple years back when he was writing for Grantland. One of his pieces/series named, Tuesday Night Lights, where he chronicles his days as a Middle School football coach was retweeted onto my timeline.
After that one piece, my whole perspective on writing changed. I’ve been writing since I was a kid, I decided I was going to be a writer back in Pre-K. I saw the pictures the other kids were drawing back then and you’d think they were Picasso’s work compared to my stick figures who looked like they suffered from leprosy. I said screw that, if they can do that better than me I’m going to find something I can do better than them. Just like that my love of putting my pen to paper and drawing the best letters and writing the best cursive possible developed. I thought I had a pretty good understanding of what “acceptable” writing was supposed to look like. Shea single handedly changed my view on something I have been doing since I could properly formulate words.
Every idea that comes from him is original, it’s fresh. You can tell it’s what HE really thinks and feels, not just saying what people want to hear. He uses humor in his work like no one I’ve seen before. He’s unique.
When I sat down with him I told him that the biggest compliment I have ever received about my writing was, “Do you know who Shea Serrano is? You remind me a lot of him, you’re funny.” Then I never heard from that girl again, but, that was a very nice thing of her to say.
Now I don’t want you to think that I pulled out my iPhone and sent Shea a text and say lets meet and have tacos, that would be dope though, I follow him on Twitter and I saw the tweet. I just took it as an opportunity to ask the man responsible for giving me the confidence to put my work out for the world to see a few questions.
I was standing in line at the taco place on what is called The Drag in Austin. Nothing fancy, just a local college hangout right off campus. I hear the door open behind me and all of a sudden the people in there started clapping. Not going to lie, I thought the applause was for me, but I turned around and there he was, Shea in the flesh. (That sounds like a dope movie title, I’m going to pitch it to him if he happens to read this) How he reacted completely blew me away.
I never expect someone who is that well respected and successful to be so humble. His face lit up when he saw all the people in there for him clapping, showing their gratitude. He smiled and whispered, “damn, look at all the people.”
I then proceeded to introduce myself, shook his hand and told him how big of a fan I was. He told me thank you and that he was going to work his way around the table and visit with everybody.
I went to the table where my boys had posted up and we talked about what we wanted to ask him. My boy Vic (@Here4Savagery) and Maury, who no longer has a Twitter ever since he got a girl, were there with me. Both of them have read my copy of Shea’s book, The Rap Yearbook, and thought it was top notch. All three of us are avid readers so meeting the author of a book we all loved was a very big deal for us.
After about 15 minutes of conversing with a few other tables he made his way to us, and what came out of his mouth next as he pulled a chair up will be a story I tell my kids one day, “Yo, this is my brown table.” LOLOL
My boys, Shea and myself were the only Mexicans in the whole Taco joint, well except for the kitchen stuff but you get what I mean. Us Mexicans stick together and this was his way of confirming that we were all on the same team.
He sat down and we started talking, it didn’t feel at all like I was talking to a stranger. He dropped gems for every question we had.
We asked him what his inspiration for the book was and he said, “Man, I needed a check.” See what I’m talking about with the humor?
I asked him how in the world did he manage to get Ice T to forward the book but that was just my Segway question for what I really wanted to know, did he get to meet Coco. Unfortunately, he met neither :(.
I told him about how I was also a writer and how I aspired to be in his shoes one day. We talked about what I write about, he didn’t just ask to be nice, I could tell he had a genuine interest in what I had to say.
There was a lot more to the 15 minute conversation but it wasn’t a formal interview so I’ll keep most of it to myself, but there was one thing he told me that really inspired me. He told me something that just added fuel to the fire that burns in my belly, it re-focused me on my mission of becoming a successful writer.
After we finished talking about my writing career he told me that when I write my book one day and I visited Houston for my press run, that he would to come out and have tacos with my fans, like I did with him. Straight up, dopest thing anyone has ever said to me. It may not seem like a lot to someone else, but to me, it’s exactly what I needed. I’m holdinging you to your word, Shea.
Go out and support Shea Serrano and buy his New York Time’s best selling book, The Rap Yearbook, you will not be disappointed.