Saturday, May 26, 2012

On Why You Probably Don't Want Me on Your Writers' Panel

So ... Friday. I went to Vancouver, which for those of you who aren't familiar with local geography, it's about 35 km or so from my house, but it takes minimum one hour to get where you need to be because of traffic, construction, and the fact that we have ONE FREEWAY here. Seriously. One. Highway 1. That's its real name. Maddening. "But that means less pollution! Better for the environment!" WRONG. It means more idling and more stop and go and more road rage as bungholes who should not be driving are allowed to do so, which is pretty much everyone except me and GET OUT OF MY WAY. There is a reason I do not commute. My blood pressure.

I Googled Hwy 1 signs for you. I found this instead. He-he, it says "hump."

ANYWAY, I got up early, set aside the fuzzy bathrobe and pink Crocs in favor of GIRL CLOTHES and high-heeled shoes (O.M.G.), and went to the Big Bad City. Ended up parking a million blocks (okay, four) away from the venue where I was headed and then had to walk -- in heels, remember! -- those million (four) blocks. Yes, I have blisters. With BLOOD. They hurt. I had to drink an extra beer last night just to make up for the pain. (Okay, that's a lie. I did not drink any beer last night. I thought about it, but then I remembered how I had to wear my Suckie (translation: fake Spanx) to hold in all that extra beer-and-Oreo fluff around my once-wee waist. My intestines were so squished, they were like HEY! WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON IN HERE?! BLURG!)

I arrived at my intended locale after that super-long walk: the Holiday Inn on Howe Street. No, I was not undercover on a top secret mission. I was not exposing an elaborate killer-for-hire scheme or pretending to pose as a mole for the illicit, top-secret PTA meetings going on all over the country. (Those parents -- they're scheming. I'm telling you.) Nope, I was headed for something far more sinister: a panel for first-time authors. Me, a panelist. Like, people asking me questions and wanting to know shit about my shit. I know, right? Me? What, were they desperate? Someone call in sick? There should've been a disclaimer in the program. We have Fantastic, Super-accomplished Writers 1, 2, 3, and then Jenn. Yeah, everyone else was booked. Sorry, due-paying members. 

So, we get into the room, we sit on the little platform at the front where we have water glasses and breath mints and name placards! So legit! Conference attendees start to filter in (including a long-lost comrade who I hadn't seen since the Writer's Studio days in 2007 -- hey, Ayelet! Happy reunion all around!). I meet the other panelists, ridiculously smart people with resumes and award lists longer than my hair (which has gotten quite long, for the record). Yeah, Canadian writers are smarty-pants. They always write about important, meaningful stuff. I mean, one panelist did a graphic memoir on her mother's decline and subsequent death from friggin' Alzheimer's. God, I was having chest pain just thinking about it. Needless to say, I felt a bit out of place.

And when that happens, I get nervous.

When I get nervous, I get silly and say stupid things.

And here's the best part: THEY GAVE ME MY OWN MICROPHONE.

It looked something like this. Only with foam on the mic part. You are IMPRESSED, no? I sure was.

I know, right? *shakes head* Fools. They had no idea what they were asking for when they gave me my own microphone (even though the little green light on mine didn't light up so I had to test it by talking like Darth Vader. It totally worked.). Not only THAT, but I was the last person to speak. Seriously? Could anything have been more AWESOME? Everyone else talks, says their important stuff, impresses the crowd with their amazingness, and then, uh, it's my turn. 

Yeah. I know. It was just that rad.

I started talking. Really fast, I'm sure, because it sounded fast to me, and that's usually a bad sign. I said some stuff about my book, held up the pretty paperback example that will soon, if not already, be unavailable and told folks not to buy it because there's a better one in the works (I think I actually used the word "sucks," but I can't remember), and I'm pretty sure I said "pee-pee" at one point to express excitement over one thing or another. I can't be certain, but I'm pretty sure I said pee-pee. It's coming back to me in little snippets. Something like, "I am so excited about ____________, I made pee-pee." Yeah. That totally sounds familiar.

Everyone else was so composed and well-behaved (Canadians are good that way). I mean, the guy next to me read one of his poems. Something about a river. He was so smart, I still have no idea what he was talking about. I forgot my dictionary because nobody told me I'd need it. Then again, it could've been the nerves because I knew as soon as he was done with his poem, it would be my turn to play with my very own microphone. (I did mention that they gave me my OWN, right?) And I cannot focus on YOU when it's almost time to talk about ME! Gahhhhhhhh!

That's me. Lots of trials, not many tales.
The scariest part about this is that they recorded the ENTIRE THING. The audio file will be available for members only via the Writers' Union of Canada website, and I am cringing already. There will be serious writerly types paying their dues, going to the TWUC members-only forum, clicking download on this audio file, thinking that they're going to get some consequential, impressive publishing advice from a panel of four. From three, they will get those things. From me, they get some bad jokes about urine. Why do I have a feeling this is going to come back and haunt me?


Nah, I'm pretty sure I made some sense at one point. I talked about bloggers and how they rule (and also how they are very protective of one another -- because they/we are -- and how sometimes the whole process feels like high school, because it does ...), how bad covers will kill your book, how fun it is to hunt for crappy covers and point and laugh over beers, how an EDITOR IS A MUST, how my editor is the Best Editor in the Whole Wide World, how self-publishing is not for the lazy or those without an entrepreneurial spirit, how self-publishing can and does open doors into other area of publishing, how it's good to get your name out there via online magazines and social media, and how different everyone's process is. Because it is. Many of us are doing this, but we're all doing it differently, with goals and results vast and varied. 

There is no right answer. There is only do or don't do. (And doo-doo, but I totally did not talk about THAT, I swear. At least I don't think I did. Only time will tell.)

When all was said and we were done, our hour and fifteen minutes expired, a beautiful older woman came up and asked about my editor (who, BTW, is getting her PhD in English literature, with specialty in post-colonial theory and 19th- and 20th-century British lit through UBC -- yeah, her brain is so big, she has to carry it around in a rucksack). I gladly shared my editorial experiences with this lovely lady, gushed about how great the last ten months have been working with Genevieve. And then this woman, in her heavy European accent, said, "I almost fell off my chair when you said you have a 22-year-old child. Did you become sexually active when you were ten?" As awesome as this compliment was, I had to giggle because this woman said "sexually active" out loud. I told her she's my new best friend. (For the compliment. And because she said a variant of the S Word in public. I really am a 9-year-old boy.)

So, thanks, Writers' Union of Canada, specifically Betsy Warland, for allowing me to be on this panel at your most respectable annual general meeting. It was cool. I promise, if you invite me again, I will not  talk about bodily functions. (Maybe.)

Now we get to watch David Beckham say "strawberry buh-nah-nah smoothie" because I want to lick him.

Xs and Os ...


  1. Too funny. And I'd bet my eye tooth (what the hell is an eye tooth, anyway?) you did great. GREAT!!!!

  2. lol'ing right now. and i love that you used parenthesis inside parenthesis. Idk why. Except that I'm just as big a dork as you are. And bodily functions aside, I know you rocked their faces. =)

  3. Buaahahaha!!! Is there ANYWAY I could get this audio file without being a member! Dude! I just might pay the member dues so I can hear this thing!!!

    You are Hilarious, Jenn! As always! And I am very impressed by your microphone! Very! ;)

    Thanks for leaving us with David. I heart him mucho! ♥

  4. This sounds like so much fun!! I bet you were awesome! I agree with Angeline, I might pay the dues just to hear you too!! =)

  5. HAHAHA!!! You crack me up, yo! I'm sure it's safe to say that those people had probably never heard a speech with the word "pee pee" in it so that's something, right?? Memorable! Maybe next time you can move up to "poo poo" or "puke" even.

    I'm not sure if I could ever listen to one of your speeches... no offense. But I'd be back there giggling like a schoolgirl and waiting for you to talk about bodily functions or sex.. LOL. People would think I was a lunatic..and they would be correct! :)

    <3 ya!

  6. This is so rad! Look at all these comments! Okay, just for you guys:


    You're welcome. Thank you for stopping by. I heart thee muchly and with fevered depth.

    Lunatics UNITE (which is not nearly as much fun as when dyslexics UNTIE, but still ...)

    Hey, did you guys hear about the NEKKED guy in Florida who ate another guy's FACE? Seriously, Florida, what is in your sparkly blue water???

  7. I have driven on Highway 1 -- it's ridiculous! Those crazy Canadians in our attic! I LOVE your blog as much as I L-O-V-E your book!