Friday, November 11, 2005

Top Ten Things.....

Never to send your favourite writer......

I have spent most of today in my office, having for the most part, a truly delightful time, going thu boxes and bags, and backlogs of Things that have come in these last few months. I have been rather busy, to say the least, and things do pile up some. It's been wonderful fun finding delightful and interesting Things , people are so very cool, and sweet and just down to earth and neat. I love my Boss's readers.

I was, however reminded of an Essay I wrote a couple of years ago, and thought the time might have come to post it again, just for fun....


Top Ten Things Never to Send Your Favorite Writer

10. Food

Unless you are a proper Food Company, what you send will not arrive in anything like the condition you sent it out in. Writers, or anyone else for that matter, tend to become rather dubious upon viewing the crumpled remains of what once was no doubt ( or a lot of doubt ) cookies. Also, somewhere deep in our darkest recess of our past, all of us remember our Mother's Don't Take Candy From Strangers , I mean, sure, it's a million to one odds, that this is the final crazed fan who has coated the little goodies with arsenic, but hey, who wants to take chances?

Send wine. Or scotch. Single Malt. Old Single Malt.

9. Paw-paw's.

Yes, I know , they are food. Well they might be food, I don't know. I do know they don't ship. Even Fed-ex. People have tried. There are reasons we don't have them in the North. For all I know , they are local to a three mile square field down South somewhere , available only to folk singers and local residents with a 1/2 mile radius of said field. I repeat, they don't ship.

Now mangoes do ship. Via Fed Ex. If you want something very badly from your favorite writer , a half dozen mangoes to his or her assistant will often move that request right to the top of the list. Trust me.

8. Invitations for things happening next month

Now , writers tend to be busy, based on my experience. Unless you are signing yourself HRH Elizabeth R. or including the words " Beach house " " Maui" and
" business class airfare" , next month is probably not going to work. Writers write. It doesn't matter how great your Convention is, they need to plan for it. In advance. It takes writers a very long time to write a book ( no, I don't know why, it just DOES ) If you are reading their Blog and find out they are in town for a signing next week, dinner is also not going to work. Especially if you have never met, nice idea, but sorry. They don't even want to see their friends when on signing tours. ( Actually the friends know all about writers on tour and tend to flee that weekend )

Invitations coming in from Brazil are the exceptions to this. Brazilians tend to send out invites for next month. All the time. Nothing deters them. They will set up an art show based on the writers work, have an entire convention based on your writers books, a conference and country wide media complete with signings, declare it a national holiday in the town, and get the mayor lined up to present the keys to the city making it permanently " The Poor Writer " Day from here on out AND this will all be scheduled Next Month. In one notable instance, Next Week.

7. Handwritten Letters.

Ok, we have a little lee-way here. Say it is a simple card saying , in nice , neat readable handwriting , " Darn your last book was great! " this is most likely ok. If you want your writer to read your letter is has to be readable. Yes, I know, one would think this was a no brainer, but you'd be surprised at how many people take a lot of liberties with the word Legible . Typewritten is so much easier to read. You might even go all out and include your address at the top, along with a SASE.

Which brings us to another little point....

6. Letters more than ten pages long.

Whatever you have to say should not take that long. It might well be important, and if you have to, you have to. But consider keeping it short. Ten pages of your latest novel idea, film idea, dream you had last night, or just a newsy note bringing your writer up to date on your life is more than they want to know and they will not be with you much past page four. ( Alright, I lied, make that page two )

Or rather the writer's assistant will not be with you that long. If your writer is very popular they get a LOT of mail. They can't read all of it, tho in their defense I must say they do try. You might consider something truly sneaky and start your letter
" Hello, Oh great and wonderful Writer's Assistant, just bought your latest cd ( ) and ye gads! It is great! " Don't know why, but those sorts of letters do tend to get more attention paid to them.*

* Assistants are smart. very smart. Make sure you actually buy the thing.

5. Letters written on black paper with a silver pen.

Silver pen on black paper is not nearly as cool as you think it is.

4. Your latest novel

Writers write. And they read. They have a backlog of reading bigger than most home libraries. They don't 'have time to read your novel/short story film idea. They don't have time to read the things they want to . It is also never a good idea to send them letters saying " Boy, I can't believe you used my idea I sent you last year in your latest novel/short story/film. They didn't. Again, trust me. They didn't.

Send your stories to agents, editors, magazines , family, and friends. They want them, and in some cases are paid to want them. In some cases they may even pay you for them.

4. Things with blood on them.

'Nuff said. I don't care what they write, they don't want it.

3. Anything you want back.

I am not talking about the odd book here, to be signed and sent back, particularly if you have written the assistant first explaining the situation ( remember how we start those letters ? ) and sent the book with SASE. Most writers are happy to oblige. Even assistants don't mind, happy to help. I am talking about personal things you want back. Your one of a kind portfolio filled with the only copies of original art. The ten mirco cassettes with player you have recorded your dream journal on for the last year. Actually, any journal of any kind. This goes along with the only copy of your latest poems, the master copy of your cd or any family heirlooms.

Writers dread the sort of letter that starts out " I have sent you this, but please send it back when you are done" For some reason anything of the sort immediately sends the item off into some sort of alternate cosmic 5th dimension , and it will, I guarantee , never be seen again, no matter what good intentions the writer may have.

2. This is more of a Good Idea/ Bad Idea list of things you might send

Some Good Ideas: Small things, trinkets, cool jewelry, tiny statues, candles, small things that squeak ( not living ) one of a kind toys, weird barbie Dolls dressed as the Endless ( Sorry, I don't know why, but I have always liked those ) cool old books, reference books , blank books for writing, cd's , black socks ( don't care who they are, they'll need them ) mittens ( unless they live in Paw-paw country ) wind up Sushi, muppet puppets of said writer, Day of the Dead things , fountain pens and perhaps some truly useful items like Sharpie Pens and post it notes . The better the writer the less pens and paper they are going to have around.

Some Bad Ideas: Art larger than 3 x 5 feet ( I am being generous here ) , photo albums with more than 50 photos of one signing , things that squeak ( living ) anything fragile , ( it will be broken ) , live animals of any kind , anything weighing over 50 pounds, pictures of you and the writer blown up to poster size that your friend took at a signing , your ENTIRE collection of his/her work to be signed , anything you recorded while on drugs, more than one volume of original music you recorded on your computer , open liqueur bottles with hand done labels in a foreign language , and anything you have to preface with " I found this in a graveyard...." ( or your freezer )

Ok, I know what you are wondering. Yes, we have. All of them.

1. Sand

It gets Everywhere. Can I repeat that ? It Gets EVERYWHERE. I cannot tell you the amount of times I have sat sadly in my just-this-day-cleaned office , looking at my sand covered desk , which now resembles something very like a Zen garden gone bad. This may be a fairly one-writer-specific problem, but if you listen to one thing I have said here, Do not send Sand. Ever. You can't pack it so it stays in whatever container you have deemed appropriate. Send the container, include a note saying " FIll this with Sand " I will do it for you, no mangoes, no cd buying, I'll nip outside and get you some of the best sand going. Just don't try and send it yourself.

I know what I am talking about here. Trust me.

Lorraine Garland, 2004


At 1:32 PM , Blogger Sherpa said...

This always cracks me up. And I see that you updated it. Very nice touch.
Also I just remembered that I have an e-mail to send you.
See you in a few hours fabulous.

At 3:06 PM , Blogger Really_Rather_Not_Nice said...

I also love this essay, although, I'm thoroughly ashamed to admit that it gives me the perverse desire to send you some paw-paw cookies made with sand from a graveyard.

Or some mangoes.

I have always wondered, aside from answering Mr. Gaiman's mail, how much work you have to put into caring for your very own pet author. Is it anything like putting up with an absent-minded, 40-something, cranky, English-accented toddler?

Also, has Neil gotten one of the "Grim Ratter" statues from Lisa Snellings-Clark? Have you? They are beautiful, and eerie.

At 3:31 PM , Blogger Maureen said...

You got me wondering about the paw-paw thing. I mean, I've heard of them, and know that they grow in a paw-paw patch (which is how I first heard them referenced) but that's it. So I Google'd:

Your Paw Paw News and Information Site

When you fire up the mango candle, let me know if it's sufficiently mango-ey. I always wonder about these things, and know that you are the Mango Queen. I'm good at critiquing spicy candles. And if I ever run across a Scotch candle (especially a Old Single Malt Scotch candle) I'll make sure to send one along. It's amazing what they have out there now and I suspect I'm on a candle binge due to the early, long-lasting dark we're in now. *sigh*

At 3:58 PM , Blogger invincor said...

Too bad the fans don't send in lots of those red rubies instead of the sand, eh?

At 4:01 PM , Blogger Fabulous Lorraine said...

Looking forward to tonight, Sherpa, I am hoping for the Muse of Rock to rain down upon me....Playing with the Boyos is never, er, dull....

All I know of Paw paws is they do not ship, and that song from my childhood, Way Down Yonder In The Paw Paw Patch.......

We do have the Grim Ratter statues, Lisa Snellings is one of my favourate artists going. I have a couple of her pieces and love her so!

Really/rather: No, nothing like that at all. He told me once if anyone ever asked what it was like to work for him, that I should answer " Scary. Very Scary. " And leave it at that.

Back to the Music!!!! Tonight more Tim Malloys! Can't wait....( Scary, very scary.....)

At 6:37 PM , Blogger Issy said...

I've been guilty of the long letters in the past but at least I include you in my greeting to him now and I have shortened them a bit.

This year I asked if he wanted the gift before sending it. Plus I told him just not to respond if he doesn't want it so I don't make him feel obligated to answer. If he doesn't want it I'll just auction it off on eBay eventually.

I do get a good chuckle out of your list.

At 9:53 PM , Blogger Maure said...

He told me once if anyone ever asked what it was like to work for him, that I should answer " Scary. Very Scary. "

Ha!! The last time he was here, he said to Megs (my evil sister) and me, "You know, there are people in the world who are terrified of me." We didn't say anything, just looked at each other dead-pan, and he said, "They find me very scary." And we just lost it. He blinked and said, "You know, you could have paused just a bit longer before laughing like this."

Megs and I will be up in December, bearing chocolate for you and Malena, if all goes according to plan. Maybe the Universe will be kind, and you'll have a show right around then.

At 7:23 AM , Blogger Starshadow said...

Seeing as how you love mangoes, I hope some perceptive readers from the Manila signing packed in a dozen or so, inside the huge crate that followed your boss home from that last tour.

I hope you'll be able to visit my country when it's mango season -- we've got some of the best examples of the fruit the world has ever tasted. Mango jubilee rules!


At 12:54 AM , Blogger Malena Medium Cool said...

star shadow!
Yes! Lorraine and I are mango lovers. I love making home made mango ice cream. We'd love to get down there sometime. I hear it's tranquil and "other worldy". (I live in LA)
Unpopulated beaches, clean air and friendly people sound other worldly to us. Hee hee

At 7:24 AM , Blogger K said...

"'d be surprised at how many people take a lot of liberties with the word Legible. Typewritten is so much easier to read."

*looks down at nineteenth-century letter, in faded ink and handwriting that looks mostly like a lot of forward-sloping ditto marks, and sighs*

And laughs. I remember reading this! It probably put me off ever sending any letters or physical objects to anybody (a tiny reduction in your heap, I suppose).

I have eaten pawpaw, and like it better than mango.

At 12:23 PM , Blogger StephanieFroudFairy said...

Whoops! Entering the party a bit late, as always...!

I was wondering if dear Lorraine would like a homemade mango dessert that is absolutely heavenly next time I go to enjoy her show!

Forget about the "diet" for now,'s the holidays and you're gorgeous the way you are!!!

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