I have been so busy with revision – in the practice makes a hot mess school of novel-writing – that I’ve neglected my mission to share dreadful writing advice. Apologies! And here is a lovely break from all that good writing advice with which we are constantly assailed.
Dear Clueless One,
My eleven-year-old niece, Lulu, has written an epic novel about magic pigs and vicious talking spiders in space, kind of an homage to Charlotte’s Web, only with time traveling maggots that feast on pig brains in an even more pointed homage to the vibrancy of cannibalistic slasher movies.
In my effort to get her work in front of Important People so she can get the adulation and seven figure contract she deserves, I have been taking her to writers conferences where, during the Q&A, she reads her (exceptionally long) first chapter to the panelists. The reaction is stunning. A hush falls over the room. The issue of appropriateness never even arises because, hey, who wants to make an eleven-year-old cry?
I also like to line up with her afterwards to meet the Important People, where she wows them by reciting, from memory, as much of Harry Potter in pig-Latin as possible before the conference staff turns out the lights. I figure that all the people behind us in line have had thirty or forty years to make their impression, and now it’s Lulu’s turn.
Do you have any advice for us, and also, how can I keep Lulu awake during these conferences?
To which I reply (with apologies to 11-year-olds everywhere who have written brilliant epic novels about space pigs)
Having attended any number of conferences where people young and old have hijacked the proceedings, often receiving adulation, seven-figure contracts, and the occasional death threat in return, I honor your determination! It is well-known that the quality and commercial viability of the work is best represented by the willingness of the writer and her aunt to leap the bounds of propriety and carry on shamelessly. I say, carry on! And on and on. (Although your willingness to fold up your tent just because the conference staff has turned out the lights, does make me question your commitment…)