Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

So, the earth opens up to swallow you--thank god

The earlier post today about a tone-deaf author insulting an editor at lunch prompted some commenters to ask, probably not too sardonically but one never really knows: "so J, what would you have done had you been sitting there?"

In order:

A. Pray for the imminent arrival of either the risen Christ and/or the four horsemen of the apocalypse; try to sign one or all to exclusive book deal.

B. Pray for a large black hole to erupt in the floor and then leap into it, sans parachute

C. Stand up, throw my serviette in the air and scream "Holy Rodentia, a RAT!"

D. Divert the editors attention with a hissed "look there, it's Judith Regan back from China interviewing Peter Olson for a job", and then stab my author with a fork. I read crime fiction; I know how to do that.

All hilarity aside, I'd be so mortified I'm not sure I'd have the presence of mind to do anything other than sit there and pray for a stroke. His, mine, doesn't matter. Just death, now.

What happens AFTERwards though is how you survive this. First, you phone the editor and say something like "well, that was one for the blog, wasn't it".

Then you send flowers and a card that says "We lived through the crap at lunch, here are the resulting posies. Please accept my heartfelt apologies for my boorish client and my failure to kill him mid-word."

And of course, you pick up the tab for lunch. Discreetly.

We've all had stuff like this happen. I can laugh about it now but I'm also a whole lot less willing to let someone natter on stupidly anymore without simply putting a hand on his knee and saying, very quietly, "stop talking now." Which is why you always sit next to the client and across from the editor at these meetings. I learned that from the Art of War, my operating rules for living in NYC.


moonrat said...

Haha thanks. I wasn't at all upset with the agent, to tell the truth--he handled things as professionally as possible. However, I would happily have gone through it all again to see you stage your distraction techniques.

JL Riffe said...

I might suggest a discreet use of shock collars for those clients deemed suitable, or rather in need...

Just keep your finger on the trigger, ready to edit the conversation on the fly ... sure your client might twitch a bit.

Really, a small price to pay if it gets a book published.

Mags said...

Um, Moonrat? Janet? I'll play the writer in Moonrat's reenactment. Just say the word.

Is there dessert with the lunch and are the bread sticks free? Is it okay if I order an entree, or is it more politic to stick with a salad where meat toppings are involved?

Can Twizzle, sigh... Kelley, come? Can we speak in LOLspeak? Can we wear our tiaras?

What? You want the original writer back again? Well, that seems extreme...

Oh, sigh.

Julie Weathers said...

"Then you send flowers and a card that says "We lived through the crap at lunch, here are the resulting posies. Please accept my heartfelt apologies for my boorish client and my failure to kill him mid-word."

As previously demonstrated, you really do have a lot of class. I confess, I'm with Moonrat, it would have been fun to watch you go through the diversion tactics.

*weeps yet again because you don't particularly care for fantasy*

I'm thinking this is a good premise for a book. SLEEPLESS IN NEW YORK. What do you think?

Debra Moore said...

"It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on."
-Sun Tzu, the Art of War

A beloved geek many years ago introduced me to this book, and I agree it makes an excellent "go by" in planning strategy and tactics in many fields, war being only one of them. One of my heroes even used its dictums to seduce a woman...

My husband’s favorite method when I need a fork stuck into my own leg is the “gape of shock and awe.” When I can see the whites all the way around his irises and his mouth literally drops open, I’ve been known to pray for the risen Christ myself.

Debra Moore

Margaret Yang said...

Okay, that is how you repair your relationship with the editor. Now, what do you say/do to the writer? Fire him on the spot? Have a long talk with him? What do you say?

Writers do dumb stuff. Readers of your blog want to know what's fatal.

Southern Writer said...

You have style, Janet. Class and style. Katharine Hepburn would have bowed to you.

pjd said...

With an author like that, I'm not so sure it would be possible to redirect the conversation or edit on the fly. A hand on the knee and "stop talking now" would probably get the author angry that his agent wasn't doing their level best to get the "right" people reading his work. Perhaps he already thought that, and that's why he took it upon himself to make the hard sell at lunch.

Just_Me said...

Moonrat is far more forgiving than I think I could be. I'd tell the client deal over and move on to someone I could work with.

Although the shock collar idea has some merit.

cbl said...

Did you really just use the word "serviette"???


Kelley said...

Mags says--Can Twizzle, sigh... Kelley, come? Can we speak in LOLspeak? Can we wear our tiaras?

I must sorrowfully decline, Miss Mags. I am home, watching scenes of yummy Colin Firth. And replaying them. Over and over. All in the divine name of research.

Okay, fine. It's not research. I just need to change my book back. Colin Firth, he just makes me happy.

It is as I thought, however. I would be shocked by anything less than getting stabbed by a fork into silence. It's only right.

Haste yee back ;-) said...

Well, I'd have gotten up from the table, looked the author straight in the eye, and said...

"Sir, your mouth if farting!"

Haste yee back ;-)

Haste yee back ;-) said...

"Sir, your mouth is farting!"

Sorry, ruined a decent joke...

Haste yee back ;-)

Dawn said...

I wonder what the agent said to the author when they got out of the lunch? I hope she strangled him. Or cut him loose.

jwhit said...

re Serviette --
I've been trying to talk her into a tour down under. Maybe she's practicing Aus-speak already.

Haste yee back ;-) said...

I think "Serviette" is French for napkin... and Cajun for call girl!

Haste yee back ;-)

Jennifer L. Griffith said...

Janet and Moonie, maybe you should both wear stiletto heels to meetings. This leathal weapon is sure to get a man's attention under the table from any given angle.

Just a thought,

Lee said...

I have a couple of fulls out on submission and if I get an offer from one of the agents, I think I'll ask to include in the agreement permission for my agent to hit my in the head with a lead pipe if I start to say something stupid that will affect my career. If the agent is not available, then my wife will be the designated substitute, as I'm sure she'd relish the role.

Mel said...

Lee, you just might be on to something. As for the lunch from hell all I can say is "Wow."

How Publishing Really Works said...

Agents need to work on their "turn to wave at an imaginary friend across the restaurant then slam writer's face into their plate on the return swing" manoeuvre. A swift apology for the accidental faceful of spaghetti sauce repairs any damage done, especially when accompanied by an equally-swift wink at the editor.

Either that, or agents should keep a flame-thrower in their handbag at all times.

I'll blog about this tomorrow. I'm still amazed.