I Thought You Said This Would Work
This is both the title of my new book and what I say to my writer friends, agent, and publisher.
I say, “I wrote this book, do you like it? Is it working?”
And my people say, “Sort of, kind of, maybe, almost. Try this.”
Then I go back and I work and write and problem solve. I show it to my people and when they say get back to work, I say,
UGH, I thought you said this would work.
And finally, after time, my people say. “Hey, this works!”
In fact, this happened, I wrote this book, I sold it and it’s coming out April 2021 and this is what it’s about.
I THOUGHT YOU SAID THIS WOULD WORK
Samantha Holton and Holly Dunfee have two things in common. It’s not Samantha’s unwavering confidence conflict avoidance will lead to a happy life, nor is it Holly’s take-no-prisoners attitude or blistering sense of humor. Nope, the only things they have in common are that they despise each other and they love their best friend of twenty-five years, Katie Martin, their shared roommate in college.
The trouble is, Katie Martin’s cancer is back with a vengeance. Neither Samantha nor Holly can imagine a world without their friend in it and the two frenemies would do anything to make Katie’s life better even travel cross-country together to save Katie’s diabetic Great Pyrenees from euthanasia and bring the dog home.
To succeed, they will have to steal Katie’s ex-husband’s Winnebago, locate the dog, brave prejudice, a violent trucker, and their own crappy history and narrow-minded thinking. But neither woman will do Katie any good if they don’t confront a secret from their past that has weakened their bond. A bond that if strengthened, could be enough to save them all.
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Who here has gone on vacation entirely alone? No conference or professional meeting to take up your time, no friend waiting at the airport to whisk you off for a chat. Alone. Alone.
I’m asking about solo traveling. Sacajawea without the hangers-on, Lewis and Clarke. Amelia Earhart without the scary flying goals. Just you with your kit-bag and a smile.
I’m asking because I need tips.
A little backstory. I spend a lot of time alone. I am often on the road for speaking engagements, conferences, family, and more often than not, I’m alone. But, I usually know at least one person, often many people, as I move through my schedule. This time, I went on a trip all by myself. I needed to finish the book I am working on, and I needed to do it in the sunshine with no interruptions.
Also, and on purpose, I wanted to know no one. My goal was to get away from my dog, needs to pee every fifteen minutes, and is a major pain when I’m writing. And to see if I like me as a travel partner.
How did it go, you ask? I’ve transcribed my thoughts for you, so you can see inside my brain as I walked the beach alone, sipped my coffee with myself, nibbled an egg salad sandwich—party of me.
6:00 AM: Ohmygosh, this is awesome. I love this.
6:01 AM: Oh, look at that group of women traveling together in matching t-shirts.
6:02 AM: Why don’t I have any friends with t-shirts to travel with?
6:03 AM: Look at those lovers.
6:04 AM: Why don’t I have a lover?
6:05 AM: Oh, there’s a pretty seashell.
6:06 AM: Ohmygosh, this is awesome.
6:07 AM: Oh, look at that group of women traveling together in matching t-shirts.
6:08 AM: Why don’t I have any friends with t-shirts?
6:09 AM: Look at those lovers.
Repeat. and this is how I felt about it.
So many confessions, so little time.
Hi, I’m Ann Garvin, and I like my screen time. Hear me out.
I like my screens, but I also enjoy quiet time walking my dog outside. I like to stare into space and read real books. I love talking to my neighbors, going to listen to music, eating dinner with friends. In-real-life time is awesome.
But, I text, write on my computer, tweet and watch TV a lot and I like it. I’m sorry, but I do.
Stay with me, I’m going to veer off a little.
I don’t want to throw away everything. Marie Kondo, I’m talking to you. I know I’m supposed to hug one of the many throw pillows I have and decide if it gives me joy, and I tried. Lord knows I tried. I embraced that pillow and I thought, it doesn’t NOT give me joy. I put it back on my couch that also doesn’t NOT give me joy, and I turned on the TV.
It’s a hectic place inside my head. I bet your head is just as busy. At the end of the day, TV helps me stop thinking things like:
- Now that my kids are out of the house, what is the use of me?
- How can I reduce my carbon footprint and not go overboard and become that lady who brings her own mason jars into Trader Joe’s?
- Is it okay to tell the man at the gas station that my name is Ann and to stop calling me Beth, or should I let sleeping dogs lie? Am I being a doormat?
- Which leads to this thought: Should I read that Crucial Conversations book that has been sitting on my bedside waiting to have a conversation with me, for a year?
Why am I going on about this? read more…
Hard To Get, Hard To Keep.
In almost thirty years of teaching health, I find that I still want to talk about health stuff. You’d think I would be sick to death of trying to help people feel better. But, I’m a stubborn little know-it-all and I can’t stop myself.
So here goes.
I was giving a talk on Feeling Good Even When Totally Stressed at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Women’s Leadership Conference and I heard myself say this about trying a new health thing.
“I can’t commit to things I’m not committed to.”
I’d never uttered these words before but an audience member asked me, “Why do I have so much trouble staying on a diet? Also, what is the harm of quick fixes that have only short-term results?”
I answered, “The thing about quick fixes is that they don’t fix anything. The quick fix implies short-term behavior, so it stands to reason that we get short-term results.”
Then I said, “If we want long-term results, we have to engage in long-term behavior.”
Ann – this is not news.
I KNOW. I KNOW it isn’t news, but let’s look at why.
Last night I had a party in my bed.
No, this is not another essay about my dating life. This is a public service announcement that might revitalize the Just Say No campaign of the Nineties and is a good example of my non-perfect life. If you ever thought that I had a perfect life. Which I don’t.
This little story is for everyone who does things they are embarrassed about but don’t feel like they can tell anyone. This is for people who are occasionally haphazard and need an assistant to get from Point A to Point B. And the Point B I’m talking about here is Bed.
This is for you. Read it and your self-esteem will soar when you compare your life to mine.
Let’s back up.
It was my daughter’s graduation from college weekend. I was feeling an appropriate amount of emotion. A little sad, a lot proud, the usual amount of tired. I’d gotten through the orchestra playing the graduation march without sobbing, the humorless speaker without sneering, the conferring of degrees without falling asleep.
After the celebration dinner, I managed to brush my teeth and I thought, take my very unsexy progesterone pill (can you feel the tension building?).
I put my head on the pillow and fell into a deep slumber-and at 2 a.m., the trumpets of my central nervous system blared, “Get the F up Ann! You have a world to run right now!”
I sat up. read more…
Lift Don’t Suppress Others.
Thirty-five Years After How to Suppress Women’s Writing
In 1983, the University of Texas Press published Joanna Russ’s landmark “How to Suppress Women’s Writing”, which enumerated and elaborated on the many ways women writers had been kept out of the canon. Almost forty years later, it remains distressingly true that, as Russ wrote, “If certain people are not supposed to have the ability to produce ‘great’ literature, and if this supposition is one of the means used to keep such people in their place, the ideal situation… is one in which such people
Although Joanna Russ’s “How to Suppress Women’s Writing,” is out of print, the ideas that animate it remain relevant: women writers are still praised for intuition instead of effort, scorned for writing about the “personal” as opposed to the public. Moreover, as the VIDA count proves, year in and year out, women’s writing is rarely showered with the critical attention nor the awards that men’s writing receives. This generation of women writers seeks to remediate the status quo for the benefit of the other.
Shirley Jackson was a literary superstar of the 1940s, 50s and 60s. Her work won the O’Henry award and was shortlisted for the National Book award. She’s best known for “The Lottery,” which is one of the most famous stories in American literature.
Can I Pick Your Brain? The Fine Line Between Giving Back and Getting Paid
The right connections in publishing can jumpstart your career and make the journey more enjoyable. But there is a fine line when asking for a favor (or a freebie) and networking. This panel looks at how emerging writers can gracefully navigate the art of “the ask” and how established authors can balance their time and effort and meaningful connections. Five publishing insiders share secrets of effective networking without looking self-interested—and when to say no without looking unsupportive.
Every writer, regardless of experience or genre, must network; relationships can make the difference between a so-so and a successful career. In today’s digital world, connecting with others has never been easier—but connectivity has increased opportunities to make gaffes. This panel, comprised of a geographically, ethnically, and professionally diverse group of publishing pros who network in a variety of equally successful ways, gives writers tools to connect in an authentic and effective way.
We are often on the receiving end of requests for help or information. Each week our inboxes swell with messages from former coworkers, friends of friends and people I’ve met at networking events who want advice about writing for a living. As you might suspect, we’ve found there are a right way and a wrong way to tap an acquaintance for professional suggestions.
All of here on this panel have asked for help and given it. There are times I’m sure when we have done it gracefully and other times when, in a panic related to deadlines, or anxiety, or desperation we asked for too much in the wrong way or were unable to help others because of time and energy constraints.
Do’s for asking for help: read more…
Cake Without the Calories
There is a man outside my house shoveling my sidewalk. I can hear him chopping and scraping against the inches of slush and ice that has collected on my concrete path and driveway. It’s a miserable job; unending and one that Sisyphus himself could totally get into. Push the slush, watch it slosh back. Repeat a thousand times. He’s doing it without my asking him to. I don’t even know his last name.
It’s been a winter of multiple snow storms, freezing rain, regular old wet rain, and wind. I want to go outside and help the man. I want to rush out and thank him. I want to bake him the crustiest loaf of warm bread and deliver it to his family with the best butter Wisconsin makes, but I’m crying. I’m sobbing really.
This is what kindness does for me. Kindness unravels me.
I’m a tough nut otherwise. I can manage death without tears, pain makes me rage and then throw up, and watching videos of people falling on the ice doubles me over with unsympathetic hilarity.
But kindness.* Oh my God, kindness. read more…