Knee deep into preparations for attending a writer’s conference I have a firm grasp on the situation. I’ve prepared piles of stories, synopses, flashy “one-sheets” with pictures and blurbs regarding a series I’ve written. A huge pile of business cards stand ready to be forced on those I meet. I’ve practiced The Pitch so that now when I speak it, it sounds exactly like it did when I first started to memorize it, stilted, forced, robotic, absolutely unnatural. Yet out of habit, from years of having paying jobs, I can prepare for a conference like a squadron of squirrels for nuclear winter. No one will starve in my nest. There are piles of nuts hidden over a ten square mile radius, quite impressive for one squirrel. Yet if you ask me to fetch you a walnut in the dead of winter, I will do exactly what those squirrels do. Panic and rush over those snow covered miles searching randomly. It’s a defect, I have no clue why I even prepare in advance other than the fact that it must be instinct.
Once I went on a trip to Florida with friends from college. It was in those days when not a single credit institution would give a twenty-one year old a credit card (obviously not now). We all had cash and trusting in my ability to think outside the proverbial box, my friends thrust their hard earned money into my hands to hide when we had to leave the dodgy hotel room. I think it consisted of about four twenty dollar bills. Big bucks. It was days before I could find it again, the death threats were useless. I’d considered every possible hiding place and could not for the life of me remember which one I chose. Sometimes my mind is in other places. Eventually I found it. I think it had been under the ironing board cover. HEY GUYS! I REMEMBER NOW!
Here’s the kicker. I’m a writer, a muse, a wife, a mom, not a salesman. Let me tell a little story. I tried to give away a car. It was used, and it was old, but it was running and it was a one owner vehicle and working okay and did I mention the part where it was free? Have you ever seen those ads to donate your old car? When I called they said, “No thanks”. I’m not kidding. The problem? Me. I had to tell them the car’s story. You know the part where it would slam into four wheel drive for no apparent reason. Speaking with the pleasant woman on the phone I was compelled to share that it wasn’t rust proofed because I bought it in Texas where things don’t rust (that’s where I learned about the startle factor of Armadillos first hand btw, subtle reference to previous post) problem was I was trying to unload it in the Great White North. I think I may have even told them that we’d nicknamed the car Chucky after that demonic doll in the movies, because it was evil and would not die. Whatever. Fact is I couldn’t sell a free car. This small flaw where I am compelled to tell my stories could be construed as a bonus in the storytelling world, the obvious drawback is the word limit. Verbosity is apparently not a bonus in the 21st Century where we just want people to get to the point concisely. I really don’t do succinct. I probably would get to the point sooner if I had one, nah, not even then.