Chocolates in the Snow

I just received an email about a writer’s conference to be held in Kauai in November.  Generally I stay clear of writer’s conferences because they include meets and greets with agents more interested the anguished memoirs of bi-racial transgender youths than anything from a boring old white women.  Some of them reject you nicely but most have a look that reads: “what a complete waste of time it is to even look at you.”  I get enough rejection for free; I don’t need to pay for it.

But Kauai beckons.  I’ve only been there once and the purpose of my visit was definitely not fun and games, but I felt at home, at peace there.  And so I told my husband that for my looming and hideously repulsive birthday I wanted go to the conference and I didn’t mind going alone.  He’s not an island person.  He claims island fever drove both his brother and nephew to drink. 

“Oh no. You’ll attract someone.” Poor fellow is on the waiting list for much needed cataracts. 

I had to explain to him that not even Danielle Steele would try use a literary conference as a setting for one of her romances. Imagine this entirely believable synopsis:

Trevor couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw the beautiful and sexy Dinah Dimlight of Dimlight Productions sitting in the audience listening to his reading from Forty Years of Hell, My Life Fighting Ebola.  When she said she could sell the concept to Disney with a few slight changes, he fell instantly in love. But she had more than a few slight changes in mind and so, enraged, Trevor turned to Sophie Goosebury, a fellow writer, for solace which she happily provided on the beach that night, under a thousand stars and listening to the barking sands.  But Goosebury had an ulterior motive – she wanted Trevor to promote her manuscript Kitties Armed With Assault Weapons to Dimlight as a possible cartoon series.

After I explained to Joel that two writers could never make a relationship work because the weight of propping up ailing egos would destroy at least one of them,  he said to me: “But you’re so confident.”

Holy Crap.
holy, holy crap
piss into the wind
unholy crapola

My husband is making the same assumption as many people:  I know what I want to do and I’m doing it. But being a writer in the age of a billion blogs, when you can’t go to a party without running into someone who is also a writer or wants to be a writer is like standing in line waiting to be chosen for a basketball team.  If you’re the last chosen, you’ll be sitting on the bench. But you keep on improving your skills.  You support the team and try not to be negative.  You have confidence that you’re doing what you want to do but uncertain you will ever have a chance to play on the court.

I’ve had old friends say  “I don’t have any special gifts or talents like you.”   They act as though I’m writing and blogging because I think I’m special. I am not special. I was the last kid chosen for basketball.  I was the girl whose guidance counselor suggested might make a good housewife.  I was the child whose father threw a birthday box of chocolates into the snow because she was getting chubby.   I am nothing special. 

I can still see those chocolates in the snow.

30 thoughts on “Chocolates in the Snow

  1. Remembering those things, observing all the world around us, is what makes a writer. It may not be special, but it is to those who don’t or won’t do that – see it all, place it all, mirror it back … it’s special.

  2. I’m impressed that you have friends who support your writing. Mine tend to ignore my ability to write– or mock me with eye rolls and knowing guffaws when I mention my blog. That being said, I suspect, like you, if I went to a writers’ conference, no matter how lovely the location, my memoir idea would be mocked with eye rolls and knowing guffaws there too. Old white lady with quietly interesting childhood, some angst but little drama, isn’t what sells these days. Still, Kauai is nice as I recall…

  3. Kauai is so lovely but quiet! I get the same reactions from friends and acquaintances. One woman chuckled indulgently when I said I was a writer and said that’s so cute! I have a degree in journalism (that a friend has mocked me about after too much wine!) and published articles to my credit. Like I would do that if someone said they were an engineer or something! 😤

  4. Jan, I couldn’t put this blog post down! The Dimlight story was absolutely riveting. There I was, sweltering uncomfortably on my cool silky soft sheets, clinging to every hormone flying around on that beach under the Milky Way. I had no choice, but to rip off my shirt (buttons and all) in anticipation of what was to come in the next chapter. You must go to Kauai! If not to find your confidence—then to find out if Goosebury’s manuscript about heavily armed kittens was good enough for Dinah Dimlight? Oh, and if the potential series will be on Netflix, or HBO? I’ve got to know. YOU CAN’T LEAVING US HANGING LIKE THIS! 😀

    • I suppose it would be fun to be a fly on the wall when Trevor discovers his new amour and her all white female kitty brigade are armed to the teeth in preparation for the coming race war. Dimlight, of course, will demand that the kitties be gender non-specific (including drag queen kitties and Dykes on Bikes kitties) and that Goosebury include a few black and orange kitties and kitties that are mixed.

      • Just one big erotic, apocalyptic, steamy, adventure novel. Houghton Mifflin will probably avoid it, but Dimlight will eat it up. Easily distend to make the New York Times Best Seller list. Imagine the cover art. WOW! 😀

  5. Fuckity-fuck-fuck, I will help you get those chocolates back from the snow and eat every single one with relish and abandon. Dammit. Kauai is a special island. Go and attract everyone!

  6. Extremely evocative post. Trust me, we’re all special. I was a damned good housewife BUT I can write. You’re more special than I, because you DO write. Excellent writing, right here on this page.

    • Thanks Joey. I think the guidance counselor meant that was the best I could hope for. I’m actually not a very good housewife! I prefer to be outside rather than dusting. But I can cook and I do manage to make the bed. I’m sure you’ll get to the doing part and I can’t wait to read what you’ll come up with!

  7. This post has me laughing out loud!

    There used to be an annual writer’s conference in Maui but by the time I was ready to go, it was discontinued. Maybe Kauai is the rebirth – we’ll want to hear all about it.

  8. Thank you for this lovely post, Jan. You struck a chord. I’ve encountered that same assumption that I have confidence. It was jaw-dropping to me. The trouble with (some) people assuming we are confident is that they also assume they don’t need to do the minor supportive things friends would do.

    I hope you get to go to Kauai and enjoy it — conference or not. I went to Hawaii (if not to Kauai) in the mid 80s. I still think of it as my only real vacation. It was heartbreaking to leave.
    Hugs on the wing!

  9. Ahhh, brilliant! 😀 Now I’m tempted to use this premise and write the ultimate writers’ love story. A confident love story. Not all of us with presumed confidence are writers. And then you move borders and your non-writing amore asks you: “But tell me… Have you always had such low self-esteem?”

  10. Friends and family rarely understand the challenges of the literary and creative industries. It can be very easy and well-intentioned for them to like your work and tell you you’re going places and assume you have just as much confidence in your prospects without really understanding any of the economics and soul-crushing steps required.

    • You’re absolutely right. I also think friends feel slighted because writers have to spend so much time with online colleagues. I guess that why writers and artists tend to cling together. We need each other!

  11. You are such a funny writer, Jan. I laughed uproariously while reading this post. I was smiling, enjoying the reading, relating to it entirely, when I came to the poetry section “Holy crap…crapola.” Laughed so hard. Laughed at the writers romance scenario. Laughed at the basketball scenario. You have a way of cutting to the chase. Keep on doing what you’re doing, my friend…you’ve got it.

  12. YES! I hear you! I have a lot to say, as a costume designer in the film industry, and a writer who has not been able to be published, or even get anyone in the film industry to read one of my scripts! Well said….chocolates in the snow.

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