Talking to the Rose

I went out to finish weeding the front bed up by the house. The Tennessee coneflowers seem to be settling in nicely. I thought they would. That’s a much sunnier bed than where I have them in the back yard. I’m tempted to maybe put some poppies in there, since I never have gotten them to grow well in the back.

I pulled a ton of weeds out of there, which is always disappointing, but it’s also nice to be able to get in and see up close how things are doing. I’m still not thrilled with how the rosemary is doing, but at least it has some green on it. I gave a pep talk to the smallest lavender and cut some of the dead off of it. Up close, you can really see that lavender is a shrub, not a flower. It’s got woody growth, for sure. The small lavenders have a few buds, but the big ones are gearing up. I forgot how much the bees ended up loving the lavender, so I need to be sure to keep an eye on that so that the Professor can get some without getting stung. Also, if I’m going to put poppies in there, I want to do it before the bees take up residence.

I think the rose is doing fine. It’s putting out new growth, which is as good a sign as any that it’s happy, but I still am not sure. I feel like it’s leaning towards the front of the bed. Part of that, I know, is just going to take those roots getting down and getting established. But I worry that it doesn’t like the soil, because that’s where I dumped the fireplace ash in an emergency this winter. I hope it’s not too base for it. I wonder if I should pile some pine needles around it to balance it out.

And I talked to it some, about my plans for it, about how it needs to get big quick and shade out the weeds, about how it will be the centerpiece of the garden, that kind of thing, as I was picking the weeds around it and digging in the dirt.

I rarely feel more pagan than when I’m in the dirt, talking to things that, rationally, I know, have way of even paying attention to me.

Still, I love it.

I wonder, when I’m old and I die, if they’d just lay me in the garden and let me slowly turn to dust. They could put me near some vegetables so that the smell of me slowly rotting dissuaded the bunnies from bothering the tomatoes.

I hope to get in the big bed tomorrow. It needs weeding and Beth gave me some seeds I want to get in there.

Women in Numbers Workshop

So, I had the pleasu… you know, this is the problem with people who are always polite. They’re like, “I had the pleasure of blah, blah, blah” and you don’t know. They could have hated it. That’s why I think it’s an advantage that I am impolite. That way when I say, “I had the pleasure of facilitating a panel at the Women in Numbers Workshop today,” you know that it really was pleasurable.

Anyway, it was exciting right off the bat, because, even though I didn’t feel like I was in any danger, apparently I could have died just walking in the building, since they had Union between 4th and 5th all closed off to “test the windows” on the building across the street. Any one of those windows, I was told, could fall and kill me, worse than a bullet.

I admit, I was momentarily charmed by the though to being killed worse than dead.

But it’s not something I actually want to go through, you know?

Anyway, I saw the panel before mine, about social media–gist: get it, learn it, use it. And part of the panel after mine–gist: door-to-door campaigning is important, but be careful out there, female candidates. And they had a really delicious turkey sandwich for lunch. I’m not a huge fan of turkey, nor boxed lunches, but this was surprisingly tasty. Like just hands down a good sandwich, one you’d be happy to encounter in real life.

Our panel was “Media: Effective Communications Goes Both Ways,” and the panelists were Joey Garrison, Pat Nolan, and Michael Cass. They were terrific. They really got into the spirit of the thing and I think the session felt more like a really interesting guided discussion than a typical panel. I did cuss some, just because there’s no polite way to say “bitch” and get the point across.

There are times when I’ll be emailing back and forth with one of the men of SouthComm about something that might be appropriate for Pith and he’ll be all “Do you want to chase this down?” and I say, “No, you go ahead,” and I realize “Nope, I am so clearly not a reporter.” I had a similar thought today when all three of the panelists were like “Sure, send us tons of press releases!” My question was basically like “Press releases: stupid wastes of time or exceptionally stupid wastes of time?” but the answer was that they liked getting them. Obviously, not every time a candidate lets their dog out to poop, but yeah, they find them helpful.

Well, there you go.

Garrison, too, talked a little about his approach to covering the Metro Council elections this year and how he’s thinking about the elections as parts of bigger trends. Is labor becoming more active? Are we seeing more political outsiders?  And so on. It was really cool to hear him talk a little bit about how he thinks about this stuff and to get a glimpse of how his brain works.

At the end I asked them the best way for female candidates to address with the media when they feel like a story has become more about what a woman she is and less about what a candidate she is. I didn’t spring this on them or anything. I sent everyone my questions ahead of time, so they knew it was coming. But I felt like how they answered was really cool. Each of them kind of sat with it and seemed to speak genuinely about how he didn’t think he’d do that, but, if he did, he’d want to know.

But what I liked about how they answered is that they kind of let their discomfort and uncertainty just be a part of the discussion. They didn’t, I didn’t think, get defensive or claim all haughtily that it wasn’t a problem. They just let the gap stand open. I don’t know. I just felt like I was seeing something really honest there, and something that acknowledged the problem without getting bogged down by it.

We talked a little bit about the numbers, how few elected women there are, only 9 on the city council, for instance, and I asked them how many women reported on politics for their outlets.

And then, what can you do? We all laughed.

These problems are systemic, you know?

Anyway, through lunch, Emily Evans gave a nice motivational, funny speech about why women make good politicians and why we need more of them.

So, it was cool and I hope our panel was informative.

And I got to meet a few people who read here! So, that was really awesome. Thanks for introducing yourselves.

Pre-Agent Hunt Blogging

If there’s one consistent piece of advice agents give about finding an agent it’s “don’t blog about it; it weirds us out.” And being a superstitious motherfucker, I will not blog about finding an agent once the search begins.

But I spent all last night finalizing my list of places to pitch my project and I have less than ten, which makes me feel like I’ve gone about my search all wrong, so, that’s not a good feeling. If it rains later today, I’ll have to re-approach my list.

I also feel like I wrote this book because it is the kind of book I enjoy reading and because I’ve never read a book about ministers’ kids that didn’t end in “rah rah, yea God!” So, that some of them ask for comps kind of freaks me out. Lots of folks write about the devil. Joe Hill’s new book is about the devil. Chuck Paluniak’s (that doesn’t look right, but I’m too lazy to look it up right now. Fight Club  dude) upcoming book is about the devil. It’s a veritable Satan-o-copia out there.

And even Valente’s book has people who turn into birds.

But who write fantastical stories about ministers’ kids?

I guess it probably doesn’t matter.

But I like to fret. I’m very nervous about this next part. I feel like I’m doing all I know how to do, so, if it doesn’t work, I’m going to have to regroup and come up with a new plan.

I just keep thinking of that feeling I had at Southern Festival of Books, when I went to pick up A City of Ghosts from the sales tables and there were only four left. It was awesome and I knew I had fucked myself right in the eye. People who saw that book picked it up. People who picked it up flipped through it. And people who had not been to my reading, who had never even heard of me or the book, bought it.

It hurt that book that there’s no way for people to just discover it on their own. They’re never going to come across it in a bookstore. They won’t find it on their library’s shelves.

That book deserves better than that.

I can’t say this book is better than A City of Ghosts, but I poured everything I had into that one and I’ve poured everything I had into this one. And I just don’t want to feel like this one missed readers who would have liked it because I got chickenshit about rejection.

But damn, this next part is going to suck. And I can’t quite get the part of me who’s all “oh, the first agent you send it to will love it and ask for it and it will sell immediately and it will be awesome! Maybe you can use the money from your advance, after setting aside taxes and traveling money for a book tour, to fix your yard!” to shut the fuck up and hear what the pragmatic part of me knows–that we’re going to have to go and fail hard for the next little bit.

The goal is to persevere.