Check the Bunny Slippers at the Door
by Katherine Pryor
writers, one of the perks of our profession is the ability to roll
out of bed, hit ĎBrewí on the coffee maker, and go to work wearing
whatever we darn well please. I wrote my first two novels in a pair
of lucky bunny slippers, which have now disintegrated due to
constant wear and one too many embarrassing trips to the porch to
sign for a UPS delivery. These days, I know Iíve had a good day of
writing if Iím still wearing the bright purple, Rock Ďn Roll Monkey
pajamas a friend gave me as a jokeóat lunchtime. (And, yes, there
have been some awkward conversations with FedEx driversÖ)
easy for writers to go into hermit mode: we have no commute, no
outfits to coordinate, and the editor on the other end of our phone
calls and emails doesnít know about the coffee stains on our
favorite college sweatshirt. Maybe this is why itís so easy to
forget that one of the most crucial aspects of our jobs happens far,
far away from our computers. In fact, this one element may be just
as crucial to our success as the strings of words we dream up and
Writers of the world, forgive me: we canít do this in our pajamas.
What is this grave, uncomfortable act? Networking.
offense to all the wonderful social networking websites out there,
but almost all of my professional victories have resulted from live,
real-time conversations with three-dimensional humans. Yes, our
computers are powerful beastsóbut so is conversation.
book-signing in my Arizona hometown, I was approached by a local
journalist who ended up running a Sunday piece about my work as a
novelist. The piece led to a job with Authors in Schools, which led
to more book-signings. To secure that first book-signing, Iíd made
multiple visits to the store, engaged in conversations with the
events manager, and convinced him that I would be a great artist to
feature on a Saturday afternoon. A series of friendly conversations
created a ripple effect that allowed me to present my work around
writersí conference in Idaho, I ended up sitting at a dinner table
with the conference coordinator. By the end of the night, she
invited me to present at the next conference, and volunteered to
copy edit my second novel. We shared our work for over a year, and
when she was tapped to put together an anthology of essays, she
asked me to contribute. Years of friendship and work were born over
stale rolls in a cold banquet hall.
vital conversations have happened at monthly writing club meetings,
over cocktails at after-events, and at many, many lectures that
involved gummy ďMy Name IsÖĒ stickers affixed to my chest. The
running theme through all of these? Leaving the house.
easy to tell ourselves that our work speaks for itself. Given a
chance, it probably will. Of course, that involves finding a
reader, and in my experience, a flesh and blood conversation will
greatly amplify the impact of the written word. A query letter is
easy to toss in the Discard pile, but an actual, smiling writeróless
is a tall order, I know. We bookish writer-types would generally
rather visit the dentist (where at least there are magazines in the
waiting room) than socialize with strangers. However, in a
competitive market, every interaction we have opens up doors of
possibility we just canít find in our home offices.
writer Iíve met has different ways of coping with this professional
necessity. I once met a cute, suburban soccer mom who happened to
write Erotica. She lived two lives: at home, in her day-to-day
existence, she was a perky blond with a minivan. As an author, she
had a boldly different persona, complete with a wig and a
pseudonym. The professional persona gave her a level of bravado she
didnít usually have.
writers have less elaborate coping methods. Some are just really,
really nice. Others drag along an outgoing spouse for moral
support. For me, Iíve always found dressing as professionally as
possible makes me feel as though Iíve already made it. My
professional persona is as far away from my writing persona as
possible, as though I sit at my computer in high heels, rather than
bunny slippers. The key is finding what works for you, then walking
out the door to meet the world. Our words will speak for themselves
as soon as we find some lucky person to read them.
Katherine Pryor is author of
the novel 50 Ways. She lives
and writes in Seattle.