Miss CP spent Saturday patrolling the aisles of the Willamette Writers Conference in Portland, OR. She was way too tired after staying up late the night before to watch the Olympics on TV, but quickly found that when you put about a thousand writers in an air-conditioned hotel, the exercises in futility rival any Olympics ever.
Talk about athletes! This convention, teeming with writers, authors, editors, agents and wannabes must have broken all sorts of records. It was better than a Tractor Pull!
In the spirit of the Games, Miss Crankypants is handing out medals (All Made in America, she’ll have you know) based on her observations.
Synchronized Pitching. This event reduces the bravest writer to a quivering mass of jelly and we’re not even started yet! We’re still in the Pitch Practice Room, where you go to have other writers boo you off stage. Participants in Synchronized Pitching are world-class memorizers of a short speech intended to light the fire of the agent, editor or screenplay guy who will try not to nod off during the performance. Timekeepers rule with an iron fist. All the hopefuls stand up as one, move to their assigned pitch platform and sit down in perfect unison. Fifteen minutes later, same participants stand, exit the room as the next batch of suckers waltzes into the chamber. Plastic Medal awarded for All-around Phoniness.
Peacock Preening Race Walk. This event is tricky. It can be a challenge to racewalk in five-inch heels, but the hardy participants have trained for months and also have taken out ankle insurance. The idea is to strut one’s stuff (projecting the image of a mysterious Bestselling Author) as you swivel those hips to the finish line, which is also the lunch line. Sharp elbows poke as these writer-athletes jockey for position. Chocolate Chip Cookie Medal–because the friggin lunch line has no dessert!
Go for Broke Shameless Self-Promotion Marathon. All over the Airport Sheraton, elite marathoners stretch, sprint, gobble granola bars and otherwise get ready for this much-hyped and anticipated event. Although there were several contenders, Team Gutsy Doctor managed to pull ahead on the final stretch. In a workshop led by a literary agent, Team GD literally commanded the center aisle, hawking her self-published book. For an excruciating minute she told the whole workshop how she conquered her fear and published a mystery novel with a truly dreadful dark shiny cover, tiny unreadable print and the brightest, whitest paper ever. Here was a writer who was also trained as a medical doctor and when it came to book publishing, all those years of schooling didn’t help one bit. Stay home next year, Doc. You’ve earned your medal, which by the way, is made out of tasteful cream-colored paper with a nice deckled edge.