So, you guys probably know that I’m going to be teaching at the Jackson Hole Writer’s Conference next week. Tim Sandlin, whose work I very much admire, e-mailed me early in the year and asked me if I wanted to come to Jackson Hole and sit on a panel with him and Nick Hornby on writing funny novels. Absolutely, I said.
Normally I don’t do any speaking gigs when I’m this close to deadline, and especially one that requires fifteen hours of travel each way, but I thought, Sandlin, Hornby, and Moore — I like the sound of that. I like the company.
So, couple of months ago Nick Hornby pulls out and Bill Fitzhugh steps in like a trooper to take his place. I’m thinking, damn, I really wanted to be on that other panel. You see, I’ve been on a panel with Fitzhugh. I consider Fitzhugh a friend, and a damn fine writer, but, you know, been there, done that, and I have a deadline.
Allow me to digress: About five years ago, when Avon was launching it’s pop culture line of books called, Spike, they flew me, Bill, and Neil Gaiman to New York to talk to the sales force and generally be edgy author guys. Well, early on, I e-mailed Bill and said, “Hey, this Gaiman guy is English and good-looking and stuff, and I think that when we get to New York, we should kick his ass.”
Bill, ever the practical guy, wrote back, “Do you know if he’s big?”
I answered, “Fuck him, he’s English, how tough can he be?”
Anyway, as it turned out, Neil was a very nice fellow and we all got along famously, and we had many dinners paid for by our publisher, and Bill and I had beverages at the Algonquin Hotel because we really thought that we, as authors, should. (I got to be Dorothy Parker and Bill got to be E.B. White — pearls before swine, as they say.) And the worst that happened is that when we were filming this TV spot, I kept joking that Neil should sell a full set of Neverware on the Home Shopping Channel, which is a joke I thought so hilarious that I was forced to repeat it many times, as if everyone else were native Chinese speakers and wouldn’t understand my massive wit unless I battered them repeatedly with it.
“No, it’s like Faberware, only, you know, with “Never” in front of it, like in the book. See how I did that? No, let me ‘splain how funny that is.”
Anyway, so Bill is a great guy, but, you know, I was disappointed about the Hornby cancellation. ( Now Horby AND Fitzhugh, well, that would be a party, since those guys are both pop music fanatics. They could just do an improptu Beatles Lyrics Poetry Slam, yo. But alas, I digress, once again.)
So, Ken, the web guy, was going to a signing in Boulder the other night for Hornby’s new book, and he e-mailed me and asked me if I wanted him to get me a signed copy. So I’m all, sure, I’ll pay you, but mention to Nick that I was disappointed that I won’t get to teach with him, or something like that.
So I get the book today, and the inscription is:
Chris: Sorry, you’ll learn more with me not there. Nick Hornby
And you can see where Ken made him pencil in “and teach” later on. So essentially, the guy has no idea who I am.
So that’s okay. I’m okay with that. I was going to talk in Jackson about how you have to go to the page with a sense of humility — and I’m feeling, oh, humiliated, so I’ll see how that works into the lecture.
But then, I open my e-mail a few minutes after reading the inscription, and I get this. (And this is the whole thing, nothing added or deleted.)
“I have written a 25 page outline for a new sci-fi thriller and was wondering if you would be interested in writing the book.”
That from a guy named Frank. (Last name withheld to keep two of us from being humiliated.)
Yeah baby. Takin’ that humility to the page in the morning, I am. Oh yes, I will tap into my Buddha nature and listen to the sound of the universe, which is apparently saying, “Sit the fuck down, butt nugget.”
So you want to be a famous author, huh?
Thank you, drive thru please.