The Pitcher

    I’m not fond of people. I don’t have a problem with them personally, as individuals—I like anybody, I guess. I just don’t like being around them, having to make the chat. This isn’t some brooding hermit act, it’s a matter of preference. I prefer to be alone. Sometimes I like to be around people without interacting with them directly. That’s why I write in coffee shops. I like to write in coffee shops.

    People enjoy asking about my novel. I think it makes them feel good to take an interest. I certainly appreciate the attempt, even if it’s feigned, but sometimes it feels like more work than it’s worth. These same people never read my little blog posts, yet they inquire about a 350+ page novel as if they plan to write a paper on it.

    I’ll be writing in one of my journals—I’m always writing in one of my journals— and some chipper soul, seeing me scrawling frantically all over the paper, will deem this an appropriate time to ask me about it.

    “You’re always writing in that journal of yours,” they say. Usually it’s a she. I don’t know why. Maybe men don’t like to acknowledge the accomplishments of other men.

    “Yeah. I’m writing a book.”

    “Really? Wow, I didn’t you you were a writer!”

    For some reason people seem astonished by this. I can’t tell if they’re impressed or simply surprised that I possess a talent.

    “What kind of book is it?”

    “Literary Fiction.”

    “No, I don’t mean that. I mean what kind. Like, is it Science Fiction, is it Romance, is it… I dunno. You know?”

    “I do. Literary Fiction.”

    At this point, their interest begins to visibly wane. Their eyes wander a little, they play with fabric on their clothing. If I wasn’t being such a stuffy tight-ass about it, they would probably give me money right then and there. But I’m a stuffy tight-ass when it comes to the inane—more so when my writing is involved.

    I sigh, “You know that big section in Barnes & Nobles that says ‘Fiction’?”

    “Uh-huh.”

    “That’s my section.”

    The person lights up. They’ve seen that section before, just never bothered to look at it.

    “Oooooh! I get it! So what, is it like Lord of the Flies or something?”

    “Same section, yeah; but the two books are nothing alike.”

    “But you just said they were the same kind.”

    “It’s a broad genre,” I try to remain calm. “All kinds of books are in there, from Herzog to Every Thug Need a Lady.”

    “What’s a Herzog?”

    “Nothing. Don’t worry about it.”

    “Hmm… anyway, what’s your book about?”

    I can barely stifle the groan rumbling in my belly. I know I should be good at answering this question because I know that I am stuck with it. This question will never die—it will never fucking die.

    I want to say: “If it took me this long to get you to understand the genre…” But I don’t. I try to behave, most days.

    I smile. I grin, making my eyes all big and playful, so it is understood that what I’m about to say is a joke. Bustling with bravura I cry, “It’s about life!”

    Since they were forewarned, they laugh. They feel good about this, like they’re in on some kind of author humor and are now more worldly because of it.

    “Seriously though,” they say. “What’s it about?”

    Usually I offer some limp-wristed explanation that effectively deters them from ever wanting to read my book. I don’t do it on purpose; I can’t help myself. My book isn’t about anything, really. It’s about characters and observations. My book is about the way it’s written, but what a terrible sales pitch that is!

    I tell them it’s about a girl from India and I leave it at that. If they know my girlfriend is from India, they assume I wrote a book about my girlfriend. My book has nothing to do with my girlfriend and the fact that they assume my creative spring fails to extend beyond my bedroom makes me feel insulted. Yet I do nothing to alter their perception, even though I alone possess the ability to do so. My body language, squirmy and uncomfortable throughout the entire exchange, is about to implode. They leave me alone and I probably start scrawling the conversation into my journal.

    The worst part is that I hope to god they buy my book, read it, and tell me that it has changed their lives. I hope they fall in love with me and I hope to love them for it. Their opinion of the book means everything, yet I can’t be bothered to convince them to consider reading it.

    Hopefully the only reason I’m so curmudgeonly is because I’m a half-decent writer. Hopefully.

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Published in: on August 7, 2011 at 6:45 pm  Comments (5)  
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