Monday, January 26, 2009

So...You're Writing a Book, Are You?

From the desk of Ms. Sally Spitfire:

My dear Suzy-kins,

Thank you for the package! I was so thrilled to get it. The hat you sent is simply gorgeous, although I can't imagine where I'm going to wear it! Certainly not at work and certainly not until summer--but I'll do my best to find the perfect occasion.

Meanwhile, I have a mystery that I need help to solve. I decided to go in for half a day this past Monday even though we technically had the day off (Martin Luther King Day) and you'll never guess who I saw when I walked into the office...


And I still have no idea what he was doing there. All I know what that he was sitting in front of his computer, staring intently at the screen and muttering to himself...until he saw me. Then he immediately jumped up to make us both a pot of coffee. Any ideas?

But I've been sidetracked; I wanted to answer the question from your letter! As it turns out, publishing DOES have its own "occupational hazard" and it is this: once you start working in publishing you quickly find out that EVERYONE IS A WRITER. They simply ooze out of the woodwork!

For example, at our family Christmas this year, no less than three of our relatives pulled me aside into linen closets and quiet corners to ask my opinion on "a fantastic idea for a book that I've been thinking of writing." I have received, by email, 5 different manuscripts and at least three times as many queries on "how to go about publishing a book" from close friends of the family. I even got a call from an ex-boyfriend with whom I hadn't spoken in years who wanted recommendations on good (read=willing) literary agents for his recently-finished epic fantasy novel.

But best of all, Suzy dear, was what happened at my last dentist visit. I should never have mentioned that I work in publishing. As he stuck his hands in my mouth, my dentist exclaimed: "Well that's fantastic because I'M ACTUALLY A WRITER!" At first I thought he was kidding but it turns out that the joke was on me because he spent the rest of the appointment telling me about his series of DENTAL FORENSIC MYSTERIES. And, to top it all off, he claims I have a cavity. I use the word "claim", because in the same breath he told me I'll have to come back next week to have a "very small cavity" filled and also, when I come, would I mind bringing along a list of editors from my publishing house who work with mysteries?

I swear, Suzy, sometimes I think I should just tell people that I work in finance.

Much love to you and Chloe and her rabbits,

(Ms.) Sally S.
So, how do you describe your day job?

Who is more paranoid? A criminal in the midst of a break-in, or a writer about to type "The End" to a manuscript.

Do you like your dentist?

Discuss as you like...


Chris Eldin said...

Good morning!


Hope David didn't scare anyone away....

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be surprised at all if most dentists are writers. Just imagine being the target of so much angst. Even a police officer would be better. But I digress.

Come to think of it, being a lawyer isn't that much better. I'm going back to study mandibles and occlusions.

Travis Erwin said...

I never get out of my dentists office without making some kind of absurd bet. Last time we wagered twenty bucks on which of his fish would pluck a flake of food first. I own the bet but still owed him 400 bucks.

Anonymous said...

I like my dentist.

"a fantastic idea for a book that I've been thinking of writing." This made me laugh.

I describe my day job in hushed tones, if at all. I try not to think about it, really.

As far as your initial question, I can't answer that. I'll let you know if I ever get to the "The End" part.

Charles Gramlich said...

It does seem that half the population wants to write a book and the other half doesn't read.

Merry Monteleone said...

It does seem that half the population wants to write a book and the other half doesn't read.

This doesn't even seem so bad - it's the ones who are going to write a book but never read them that annoy the hell out of me.

Have any of you ever had random people come up to you with ideas for books that you should write together? I'm not even published and I've had two people do that in the last year...

I think if I was an editor and had all of the silliness of random people pitching unwritten novels at me, I might be tempted to wear a sign that says, "I don't play well with others" and bark at them randomly.

Miss Susanna said...

Oh my gracious. Sally - I think ya'll should bring Antonio to your next dental appointment. The nerve of that dentist!

Now this is what you do, sugar. Have Antonio accompany you to the next visit. Lordy, I can see it now. That sweet man sitting in the office with you, crackin' his knuckles and whispering "Nobody - a - hurt - Miss - Sally."

But why was Antonio working on Monday I wonder? Perhaps he's lonely.



laughingwolf said...

y'know, i just might give this writing thing a try... looks easy :O lol

my dentist is irish, and she has no writing pretensions... but she talks my ear off ;)

Anonymous said...


I would happily take Antonio along to all of my doctor's appointments--I'm sure he'd be more interesting than the three-year-old issues of HIGHLIGHTS FOR KIDS on PEOPLE magazine that I find littered around.

Do you think I can find one of those shirts with "I Don't Play Well With Others" in an office-appropriate button-down?

How're things down your way today? Work is busy busy and I'm already ready for a lunch break. Perhaps I'll go out for sushi. More likely I'll sit at my desk and do some blogger outreach. Sometimes I feel this is 3/4 of my job. Ah... online marketing. It's the way of the world now, don't you know. More on this in my next letter, methinks...

All love,

(Ms.) Sally S.

Anonymous said...

Bark! Bark!

Sarah Laurenson said...

My dentist is very cool. It's his assistant who told me he's a writer. After a few more sentences, I managed to find out he was in school for writing and had an idea for a book but had not yet committed a single word to paper. But he offered to read anything I wrote and give me his opinion on it. Um, yeah. Thanks.

Dave Fragments said...

I've left dentists for less stupid things than what happened to you.

Writers are more paranoid than criminals. Got to be, they have more time to obsess.

Antonio said...

Hi. Um. Izza me Antonio.

Um. I would like to tella you why Signorina Speetfire find me atta computer onna holiday. Butta izza not right time yet. So sorry. Maybe a next time.

Antonio said...

Hi. Izza me Antonio again.

Someone whoza name I amma not saying sent email and say maybe it was naked woman onna computer. No, no, no! Please. Do not be thinking of me like a that.

Antonio said...

Not naked mans either Chris Eldin!

Robin B. said...

Antonio, honey, if you're ever in DC...

Chris Eldin said...

Thanks for dropping by everyone!
Hope you have a relaxing evening.

Be sure to catch up with some wonderful authors we have on board this week!!!


McKoala said...

That's so funny. The danger of your profession is probably only surpassed by 'film director' and that only because most actors/actresses, and would-bes, carry photos and bios at all times, just in case! A manuscript is a little heavy for the back pocket.

Antonio, you issa very funny.

Kimber Chin said...

Oh, no, don't say you're in finance!

First thing out of your listeners' mouths will be "Oh, can you do my taxes?" (And they're deadly serious)

Even though you carefully explain that YOU hire to get your taxes done (it is a specialized field), they'll yammer on and on about whether they can deduct certain expenses.

At least, hearing story ideas has a chance at being interesting!