This is a jawn about libraries
by Poliana Irizarry
Posts tagged libraryjawn
The other day, I was sitting at a table in a place of business and I had a notebook open in front of me. In the notebook, I was making a list of Men I Don’t Hate. It’s actually a pretty long list; that was the point in my making it. Sometimes you just have to remind yourself. Anyway, as I was sitting there, a man I don’t know walked into the room and began talking to me. This is a practice I have always done my best to discourage, but he seemed nice enough and he was blocking the door so I did not employ my usual response to Men I Don’t Know Talking to Me, which is to run away.
The man asked what I did for a living. I told the man I was a writer. The man asked what I wrote. I told the man my YA novel was getting published in the United States in January, and that I had recently finished the sequel. The man told me his friend writes books for kids and publishes them himself. “Have you ever looked into that?” the man asked me. I told him I had not, but that I knew of people who had had great success in that arena. “He says it’s hard,” the man told me, “to get people to actually read it.” I commiserated. “He says the only way to have success writing is to write for a big website,” the man added. I felt like this was not accurate but just sort of nodded, because, like, I don’t know your friend’s life. It was only with the man’s next sentences—“You should probably look into that. You should find a website you want to write for and see if you can write for them”—that I began to understand that he was trying to give me advice in how to succeed in a field I had already established I am doing reasonably well in, despite the fact that this man’s only connection to the world of writing and publishing was his friend, whom he had already established to be doing not-so-well.
He really thought he was just being nice, though, and I think at heart he probably is, so I tried to be nice, too. In a light, friendly, we’re-just-two-buds-with-equally-valuable-insight-into-the-world-of-books sort of tone, I explained that I am really lucky in that my books are being published by a company with a marketing team who would help me to get them read. Not that writing for a website wouldn’t help, too! I didn’t say, “I am in a better position than your friend and already more successful than him by many standards,” but I cheerfully implied it. That’s when the man started to explain that kids don’t read books anymore. Only iPads. “It’s too bad,” the man said, shaking his head, “but that’s how it is.” I kind of started to explain that, from what I’ve seen, kids are actually reading a lot of books—including the ones I’ve written!—but the man had started a diatribe about iPads and attention span and other stuff, and I didn’t want to interrupt.
This is going to seem like a joke, but it’s true: as the man was talking, another man walked into the room. He poured himself a drink and then looked at me, looked down at the notebook in front of me, and said, “Is that your diary?!” in the snidest tone imaginable. He started snickering, took a couple steps to the door, turned around and looked at me, snickering, waiting for me to start snickering too? I don’t know. I was giving him the same look you would give a puddle of vomit on the street you almost accidentally stepped in. The two men started chatting together, then, and I took the opportunity to run from the room, vowing never to return to it.
A day or two ago, I was walking to a coffee shop, planning out a scene in the book I’m writing now, and apropos of nothing, I remembered something a professor in college once told me. He said: “Katie, don’t become one of those angry women writers.” He gave me a lot of good advice, too, but as far as that one went, MISSION UNACCOMPLISHED.