Now that I'm a best selling author/KQED commentator, things have changed around here. I've taken to wearing sunglasses in the supermarket so I won't be recognized. I've taken to, as Marian Keyes would say, "the twitters" to promote my ebooks. Sometimes I splurge and get tea tree shampoo. But dear readers, I do have time to watch television. We have a new channel called MeTV, which has shows like Mannix! Cannon! The Mod Squad! Honey West! And Petticoat Junction. Say it with me folks: Petticoat Junction!
So yesterday I watched an episode of Petticoat Junction where one of the girls wins a poetry contest. It's the burnette Bobbie Jo, and man, does it go to her head. She gets on the front page of the newspaper. Never mind Vietnam! Bobbie Jo won a poetry contest! But she lets it go to her head. She starts hanging out with a different crowd in college. They like going to coffee houses. They look like Sonny Bono. They read poetry and no one claps. Her mother (the great Bea Benadret) lets her hair down and recites the words to "Marizy Doats" The crowd went wild. Bobbie Jo soon realizes that gee, hanging out with these beatnik coffee house people isn't her.
The first thing I thought was wow, that was lame. Poor Bobbie Jo. She's trying to hang out with writers and improve her craft, and that's considered a joke. Hooterville didn't have a bookstore, otherwise she could've gone there, read some Truman Capote, chat with the cool cats at the cash register. She needed a writer's conference where she wrote with Anne Sexton, smoked pot with Allen Ginsberg, learned how to be a party girl from Pat Montandon.
I also thought about the fact I've never really been to any writer's conferences. I've taken many writing classes with Susan Browne, Jessica Inclan, Kerry Madden, Kathryn Reiss, Anne Lamott, Ariel Gore, and Cornelia Nixon,but no writing conferences. They always seemed intimidating to me, plus they always dwelled on "I need to get an agent right now man" deal. Which is fine, but I want a writer's conference for the rest of us. The writers who want to write, and how to live a writer's life.
I might not get to a writer's conference (never say never) but if I ever get to the stage like say Oprah or JK Rowling, I like to create my own Writing Conference. I would call it Ole Golly's Writers Conference. Ole Golly being the nanny to Harriet in Harriet the Spy, who said to Harriet "Writing is to put love in the world." Right on, Ole Golly!
So here's some classes I would like to be taught:
Yoga Pants 101: I got a pair for Christmas and think all writers should have them. You can wear them while writing of course, but say you need to go to Safeway or the library. If you were wearing sweats you'd have to change. But wearing yoga pants all the time people just think you're running errands after doing power yoga. This class will teach you which ones to get.
The Basics Of Coinstar. Broke? Haven't gotten that royalty check yet? It's time to sweep up that change under the couch and take it to your local store. This class will tell you how to find Coinstars in your area, how to resubmit rejected coins, and what to do with your voucher when you're done.
You're Not Amanda Hocking, And That's Okay: Many people are putting up ebooks hoping they'll become millionaires like Amanda Hocking. They get bummed when it doesn't happen right away. This will be a class to teach them you don't have to make millions right away to feel like you're a success.
How To Dress Like A Movie Star: Writers are not known for their clothing style (as referenced in Yoga Pants 101) but there are times when we have to look good. That is why my friend Lilly-Marie will be perfect teaching this class: She has fantastic clothes, be it six inch high heels, a golden colored short skirt, and still wears pantyhose. She can help you get a fashion sense that will work for you.
I know these are classes that won't increase your verb power or get you on the cover of People. However, they will help you live a simpler life, connect with other writers, and eat good food. Because there will be chocolate at this conference, oh yes. And coffee. You can't forget the coffee. We might even recite "Maizy Doats." It might just be a dream now, but someday it might become a reality!
Causes Jennifer Gibbons Supports
Gilda's Club, Greenpeace, Rosie's Broadway Kids,Westwind Foster Family Agency, Amber Brown Fund, Linda Duncan Fund for Contra Costa Libraries