Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Grit Happens

I'm already miffed about the 50% consignment the bookstore insists upon to carry Grit for the Oyster on consignment. Other retail outlets offer 60/40 or even 70/30, which allows me to make a bit of profit, but 50/50? It's hardly worth my gas to bring the books down here.

So when I arrive for the writer's mini-workshop I had prearranged three weeks earlier, my blood pressure blows out my split ends.

"I'll only need you to supply a table for my materials and at least twenty-five chairs for attendees," I had told the manager. "I'll bring everything else."

"Sure, sure," he had replied. "No problem." I called again the day before the well advertised event (all my effort, of course) to make sure we were good to go and the manager assured me everything had been taken care of. Except that I would have to bring my own table. Okay. I can deal with that.

As I lug my heavy table and bulky boxes of books, a crate of props and case of posters through the door a half-hour before the event is scheduled to start, I find that there are no chairs whatsoever.

"Where are the chairs?" I manage to ask through gritted teeth. He won't meet my gaze. "There aren't any," he mutters. "I tried to borrow some from a church but it fell through."

I stare at him in disbelief. "And you didn't try another church...or funeral home...or rental place...why????" My voice squeaks like my dog's chew toy.

He shrugs.

I'm speechless. I finally gather my wits enough to ask in a calm voice edged with steel, "What are the people supposed to do for a whole hour during the workshop?"

Then comes the kick in the teeth. "I guess they can sit on the floor."

Okay, I'll spare you the rest of the maddening details. Thanks to my quick-acting husband, we managed to seat half of the 45 people on chairs begged, borrowed, or stolen from friends, neighbors and nearby businesses. I kept apologizing for "the misunderstanding with the chairs" and thankfully nobody left. They just stood for a solid hour. There were four elderly people and a cerebral palsied lady in leg braces for whom some very nice men gave up their chairs.

I hoped the manager had nightmares about them wallowing all over the floor. But retaliation is not my point (he is, in fact, no longer with that company).

The point is to share one of the many bumps in the road that occur to every author (at least I hope it's not just me) during their writing journey. Some may be simple speed humps, while others may be teeth-jarring potholes. But the road will not be straight and smooth. So prepare yourself for twists and turns; prepare to persevere when your transmission falters and your gas tank is empty; prepare to ditch old maps and search for new routes when the road is blocked.

Prepare. And by the grace of God, your destination awaits you.