Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Truth About Cats and Dogs...

OR—the truth about dreams and reality. How many times have we written our (unpublished) book dedications in the shower? Or given an Oscar speech in the car? Or imagined actually accepting the RITA without tripping over our high heels? We all do it. Live out our dreams within the realm of our imaginations; we wouldn’t be writers if we didn’t. I know I had countless self-conversations before selling my first books, and it always seemed so very easy to rattle off the “You love me! You really love me!” type speeches.

So then why, I must ask, is it proving so very difficult to write my one paragraph bio that my editor now needs? Is it that we’re unsure how to properly talk about ourselves in the third person without sounding like a dweeb or braggart? Or maybe it’s the pressure to be funny. Jud tells me I’m always funniest when I don’t mean to be. Well, let me tell you—when it comes to this bio thing, everyone else (Shelley!) is funnier than me. My clients all have these rip-roaring, ha ha ha’ing bios that put me to shame. For a minute the other night I actually sank into the “I must not really be a writer” malaise, wondering how such a pithy paragraph could elude me. In the midst of that pity party, I would naturally, of course, get the invitation to a humor writers conference. And why, you may ask? Because the conference chair had heard a presentation tape of mine and decided I was so funny that, in fact, I should come be a special speaker at their conference. He concluded his kind and complementary invitation by saying something like, “I know that with as funny as your presentation was that your first book will surely be very funny too.”

Head sinks into hands. Why can’t I get the shower-taking, I-want-to-thank-my-kids-husband-and-chiropractor speech back?? WHY?

Well, let me exhibit my very split personality now, and remove my driveling author hat, and replace it with my diva publishing crown. The truth is—at least my truth as an agent—that when we don’t feel watched, we perform freely. But the moment someone lets us know the spotlight’s been trained on us, we begin to sweat. We clam up. That freewheeling thing that makes our work its best sputters and coughs and we have to remind ourselves of the mantra. We are the same girl we were before.

Tonight, while taking a shower, my bio seemed to dislodge itself—simply because I quit trying to solve the problem. I let it flow, baby.

5 comments:

Shannon McKelden said...

Well that totally explains why, as I'm laying in bed at night, unable to sleep, I "write" (in my head) the absolute best lines, the funniest prose, the most incredibly brilliant scenes...only to be completely unable to put those same scenes on paper. Even if I get up right that exact second to do so. Never, ever works.

When, oh when, will someone create a "thought capture" machine that we can just use to play back that brilliance? :-)

Shannon

Deidre Knight said...

Shannon, right on. It kills me how many fabulous scenes I never capture at bedtime. Sometimes if I pop right up and scribble furiously I can get *some* of it. Not usually, though.

Natalie Damschroder said...

So, what did you use in the shower to capture your bio? For a while we had those bath crayons for my kids, but they write really big and I always run out of room...

Judson Knight said...

BTW, Deidre didn't mention that this humor conference to which she was invited was so major that participants have included Dave Barry and Jeff Herman. I've always told her she's screamingly funny--especially (just like she said) when she's not even trying to be. Many's the time when she's said something offhanded and left me doubled over, near-collapsing and gasping for air.

Shelley Bradley said...

You are funny, D! If you haven't yet, I'm sure you'll come up with something wonderfully pithy! You always think of great things to say. When I did mine, I just opened brain and vomited words. You can too...and probably with a lot more style!

Shelley