Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fame, Gratitude

I had an extremely pleasant experience last week, going to a library in Bloomington (that’s the suburb where the Mall of America is located). I was to give a paid talk. The room was crowded and virtually every person there was familiar with my books. The audience applauded and laughed at my jokes and asked good questions at the end. Some even had brought books for me to sign. Such experiences are good for a writer’s soul. Possibly a bit dangerous, too, when the author gets to thinking he or she deserves the plaudits. I write genre fiction for a very special subset of mystery novel fans; that doesn’t make me important. I tell myself that -- but sometimes I wonder if people in the creative arts who meet with any sort of success shouldn't hire a person to follow them around, murmuring in our ears, "You ain't so much."

Friday I am to go signing books at the Midwest Booksellers Association conference at RiverCenter in St. Paul. My publisher will be there and I get to go to a cocktail party ahead of time. I’ll be one of hundreds of authors, and it’ll be fun to rub elbows with authors who write other things than mystery fiction. I’ll wear one of my more spectacular hats.

I finally finished a short story, "It Slices, It Dices," for a Minnesota Mystery Anthology to be called Murder on a Stick, which will feature stories set at our State Fair. I will polish it in some haste, as it is due in the hands of the editor by October 1. And you know something? Acceptance is not guaranteed. (Though if it is rejected, I’m going to pitch a fit. Not because I’m important, but because I think it’s a pretty good story. I think I slipped a major clue into the story without being noticed, one of the kind that later you go back and say, How could I have missed that? I hope so, anyhow, know two people who have read an earlier draft who missed it. If everyone else does catch it, especially the editor, I'm cooked.)

We had a pretty violent rainstorm this afternoon and, as I have done bedfore, I went to a window and looked out at it. The rain was pouring down as if someone had unzipped the sky, and the wind blew it hard into the window. The gutters were overflowing. Our balcony is roofed, but the floor was wet back to the wall. Also as I have done before I thought how grateful I am that I live in a time and place where I was perfectly warm and dry. For a long time I was a member of the SCA an organization that studies the Middle Ages by behaving as if they were still around. I have also long taken an interest in camping, in studying the American Indian, and following the learning curve of anthropologists and archaelogists who study early man on the African and European continents. Not the very richest of any of them was privileged to live in such comfort as I have. Thanksgiving is a long way off, but I’m already grateful.


Camille Minichino said...

I'm grateful, too, Monica, for the comforts of modern technology.

I can never understand wanting to return to the discomfort of the past.

I was at a B&B over the weekend that prides itself on its collection of antique tubs and fixtures. The tub in my room was high off the floor, impossible for anyone over 30 to get into. The drains were rusty. The faucets in the sink were cracked as was the sink itself.

I worked hard to get away from such bathrooms and wonder why anyone thinks it's romantic decor!

Monica Ferris said...

Beats me, Camille. When you're young and healthy, living in a tent and trying to cook over a smoky fire is an adventure, and it gives you a sense of triumph if you master the techniques. But to be older, wet, cold, mosquito-bit, ill, scared (bears, anyone?) and tired turns it into a heart-wrenching cry for a motel room with hot and cold running water and clean sheets on a nice bed.

Gayle Carline said...

My friends tease that my idea of camping is the Motel 6. And go back to the Middle Ages? No, thank you, especially not as a woman, where the leading cause of death was childbirth, followed closely by fire - apparently, we clumsy types would drag our non-fire retardant skirts through the fireplace as we cooked the meals. And I'm not going back to any time that doesn't have feminine hygiene products!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...


When I worked as a motivational speaker, I quickly realized how easy it is to believe every word from one's lips is a pearl of wisdom.

Then I would come home after a gig, and no one would listen to me. Not even my dogs.

That's why families are so important. They keep us grounded, eh?

Monica Ferris said...

Joanna, that's so right! It's easy while in the fancy suit and snazzy hat to think I'm someone important, but guess who in my household gets to clean the litter box?

Betty Hechtman said...

I'm a little late, but loved the blog and everyone's comments.