Making A Fool Of Yourself

Over at Magical Musings today, guest blogger, agent Ginger Clark with Curtis Brown is talking about writer do’s and don’ts at conferences. If you are unagented (or uneditored…ROFL, don’t think that’s a word), and hope to make an impression at an upcoming conference, you should go read the post.

I was going to reply there, but then decided not to embarrass myself and instead am doing it here (aren’t you thrilled?!).

Have you ever made a total fool of yourself at a conference? I have. In more ways than one. The one I pulled in front of an agent though went like this:

Last summer in Atlanta, my roommate and I went down to check out the Moonlight Madness Bazaar. The room was fairly empty as we were there late. We walked through the space and checked out the goods, and at one table I spotted an agent whom I’d recently sent a partial, sitting at a table full of handmade jewelry. Now, I’m sure you know who this agent is, but I’m not going to say her name. She didn’t offer representation, but the rejection letter she sent me was the nicest one I’d ever received. It stuck with me for a long time. While my story didn’t fit with what she was looking for, she had extremely nice things to say about my writing and premise and story telling abilities, and in the letter she predicted I would land an agent very soon. As of conference time, I still hadn’t landed an agent, and while I know no means no and had no intention of trying to worm my way into this woman’s agency, I decided to go up and introduce myself and tell her how much her letter meant to me. Because it really did. Changed my outlook on my writing in a very positive way.

So, I approached said agent, introduced myself and went off on a tangent about how much I appreciated her rejection letter.

She looked at me like I had a third eye smack in the middle of my forehead. And as I was rambling I had the odd sense that all she heard was, “I’m Elisabeth Naughton and you REJECTED ME.”

Of course, my faux pas was that I approached her while she was doing something non-agent – like working a booth at the bazaar. But since I wasn’t trying to pitch anything to her, I didn’t think that was a bad thing. After I went through my unrehearsed babbling, she looked at me with a very wary expression and said, “Okay, um, thanks.” and then promptly turned away. I can only imagine she was thinking: STALKER. GET ME OUT OF HERE! Another person who wants to argue over a rejection I sent!

I went and found my roommate and told her I thought I might have made a complete fool of myself, which I probably did, but to this day I’m still glad I went up to her. Whether she thought I was a stalker or not, her words in that letter were true and encouraging, and to someone who had been struggling to find someone who loved their work, it meant a lot. And she was right. A month after conference, I found my agent.

So share your embarrassing conference stories here. I’d love to know I’m not alone. 🙂