Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Second Most Awkward Discussion About Writing I've Ever Had (and a lesson about setting the scene)

The registration for SCBWI Carolinas opened this week, and it reminded me that I forgot to tell you guys about the second-most awkward conversation I've ever had about writing.

After we've been in the slush pile for a while, we're all doomed to have these conversations, right? You know, the ones where people who have had an "idea" for a book (usually a memoir or a children's book of some sort) for YEARS will talk about how that makes them a writer, too.

And the whole time we're internally screaming our heads off and trying to keep our patience during these convos. Because--if you're at all like me--when we say, "I write" what I really mean is...



But this actually WASN'T that sort of grating conversation. Here's what happened:

"Sue": Oh you write? Me, too! I've been working on a children's book.

Me: Yeah, I write for kids, too. Well, teenagers.

"Sue": Mine's a picture book. But I don't draw. It's okay if I don't draw, right?

Me: Yeah, they've got, you know, illustrators for that.

"Sue": I sent a copy of it to this person who lives here in town. They're like book people or something...I forget what they're called...

Me: Literary Agents?

"Sue": Yeah, I think so. I can't remember who...

Me: Adam's Literary. (We live in Charlotte. It's not a big list.)

"Sue": Yes! Oh my God! How do you know all this?

Me: *sigh* I have an agent. I've written some words. *insert brief and painful discussion of submission process here*

"Sue": I heard about some sort of conference for kids' writers here but I didn't go.

Me: SCBWI Carolinas? I go every year. It's awesome.

"Sue": OH MY GOD! WE TOTALLY NEED TO GO TOGETHER THIS YEAR! Let's do it. It'll be so much fun!

And the conversation about the conference went on for a little bit.

On the surface, it seems pretty normal...not a bad or awkward conversation to have with another kidlit writer, right?


See, kids this is why setting the scene is really important. Because there are two important details, you won't get by reading this dialogue. And it's these details, when combined, that make this the second most awkward discussion about writing I've ever had.

1. It was on my 35th birthday and the day I got sort of a big ego blow of a rejection from a publisher (aka the day I really, REALLY didn't want to talk about writing.)

2. It was with my gynecologist. During my annual exam.

Yeah. You're picturing that right.

But a good writing lesson for all--it's important to give your dialogue some context. Otherwise, everyone will just imagine that your main character is having the conversation with your gyno complete with stirrups...instruments...boob squeezing by a near stranger (Well, she was my OB, so not a complete stranger.)

Fun times at the crotch doctor, eh?

As for THE most awkward conversation about writing I've ever had? Yeah, you'll never get me to admit that here. Let's just say it involved a Donnie Wahlberg Meet&Greet...and pornography.

We'll leave it at that.

(And that's what we call an end-of-chapter hook.)

See that? Two writing lessons, totally at my expense. What was your most awkward writing conversation?

Enjoy what's left of your Tuesday, kids!

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