Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Authors in Real Life

by Susan Sey

Greetings from New York City, where the Romance Writers of America is kicking off its national conference today! If you're here, wheeee! If you're at home, booooo. We miss you.

This is the time of year when we all frantically try to match up the faces we see in the halls to the author photos we see on the internet & in the back of books. It's no easy task. We lose weight, we gain weight. We cut our hair, we color our hair. We put on make up, we take make up off.

And my personal favorite--we change our clothes.

I spent most of last year's conference trying to keep up with all the people who introduced themselves to me at the Literacy Signing that first night. Now I'm terrible with names & faces but I tried so hard. I really looked at people, I repeated their names the way you're supposed to. I shook hands, I hugged, I really thought I had it.

Then they all went and changed their shirts the next day & I was lost. Utterly lost.

This creates something of a social landmine. You don't want to sit down at lunch & cheerfully introduce yourself to your neighbor, only to have her remind you that you hugged her less than twenty-four hours ago. Right after she bought four copies of your book.

Equally unsettling is introducing yourself to your neighbor at lunch & having her blink in dismay & say, "Oh, wow, you don't look like your author photo at ALL."

Ha. Nope.

So here are two things I want to say as the conference kicks off:

1) I am not as cute as my author photo. Yes, my hair's short again & I got a pedicure for the occasion, but I will not be wearing make up. Not during the day anyway. It bugs my eyes. Feel free to express dismay at my appearance if you meet me. I'll laugh, then we can go get a Diet Coke & talk about how our high heels are killing us.

2) I will probably forget your name. I'm so sorry. This is a horrible social failing but I get nervous around new people and when I'm nervous I fail to remember important things. Like their names. But remind me. I will hug you most sincerely (I'm a very sincere hugger) and then we can go get a drink because if I forgot your name I'll be horrified & I'll need a drink. Then you can tell me something embarrassing you just did, or hit me with your pitch, & I'll tell you about the ridiculous thing I just did & I'll remember you because we drank & talked & shared our humiliations.

So, hey, make me feel better, huh? Share a social gaffe--a case of mistaken identity, a failure to remember a time/date/person, etc. Because I'm bound to be hip deep in humiliation at this point & I could use a good laugh.

p.s. I'm racing around the conference like a crazy girl, so I'll be scarce on the comments today but I promise I'll savor every word when I have two minutes to myself & reliable internet access!


barb said...

is he coming back to the cold... not a good day today ....wet and cold

barb said...

Don't worry Susan.... I forget names all the time....... and call people the wrong name LOL..... Have a good time at RWA

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Congrats on the chook, Barb!

I'm sure he wants to cozy up to a nice fire in a fireplace with a package of TimTams! ;-)

I'm generally pretty good with names, but in a huge crush of people like RWA, I'm lucky to remember MY OWN NAME!


Jane said...

Congrats, Barb.

Hi Susan,
Luckily I'm good with names, but I have mistaken strangers for friends and acquaintances. I'll sidle up the person and then I realize that I don't actually know this person and try to act like nothing weird just happened.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Barb, he's back in Sydney, is he? It's cold up here today too. Started really rainy. Just windy and miserable now.

Susan, laughed at your piece. You have such a great sense of humor. I LOVE that we all get to wear nametags at conference. I'm not too bad with names and faces but when there's so many, I just end up completely bamboozled.

marybelle said...

I never remember names. Faces most of the time, yes. It's horrible always searching for a name while the other person is talking on, as if you should know all the people they are catching you up with.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan!

I'm usually good at names, but I can understand how easy it would be to forget them if you're meeting someone new every five minutes.

Embarrassing moment? My wedding. I'm standing in the hotel lobby greeting guests and this woman comes up to me and says, "Jenny, how long has it been?"
I had NO idea who she was but only my family and school friends call me Jenny. A long awkward pause ensues. Finally she tells me who she is, my friend who I'd known since seventh grade. I knew her name, but I didn't recognize her. She'd put on 85 pounds and let herself go au naturel--gray. I'm still embarrassed.

Hope you're having a blast!


Sheree said...

I, too, forget names at the drop of a hat. Thank goodness for name tags!

I've often mistakenly called people by the wrong names. I've decided not to call the baristas anything because even though they have been making my coffee drinks for the last 4 years, I still don't know their names for sure.

Annie West said...

Hi Susan,

What a wonderful post! I can so relate to you forgetting names all the time. I'd like one of those buttons too that you posted with your blog. I had to laugh at you forgetting everyone's names as soon as they changed their shirts. yes! I can relate to that. The thing is I remember the conversations and the people, I just don't recall the name - horribly embarrassing. So, Susan, if I ever make it to the RWA National Conference, can I come and say hi so we can chummily forget each other's names together? Sounds delightful!

Helen said...

Well done Barbara I will be down for a cuppa and I have Tim Tams should keep him happy LOL


I am pretty good with names but I often call people I know really well by the wrong name and this is so embarassing but yep I do it, and I have been known to forget a few things these days must be getting old LOL

Have a great time at the conference Susan I so wish that I could get to one in The States one day fingers crossed

Have Fun

Janga said...

I'm pretty good with names, a skill honed through many years of teaching when I needed to learn students' names quickly. But I have a couple of friends who have been married several times, and I have upon occasion introduced them by the name of a previous husband,causing me to blush and earning glares from friend and latest DH.

TerriOsburn said...

You are as cute as your picture! Cuter even. I spotted you at the Lit Signing in a pic someone posted on Twitter last night. You were talking to someone though I'm guessing you might not remember her name. :)

I'm usually good with names, but the older I get the more forgetful I am. I'll always recognize a face I know, but putting a name to the face sometimes takes longer.

I coordinate the company Christmas party every year, which means I have to greet everyone as they enter the party. As you mention, when you only see them once a year it's not easy to remember who they are.

I don't know how many times I've been silly enough to guess and been wrong. I always feel bad. But it's once a year!

jo robertson said...

As always, hilarious post, Susan. I envy you guys so much having your NY experience with RWA. I went a few years ago, only it was a history conference with my daughter and her husband. It was a blast. And Mike even broke up a girl-fight on the subway. So cool!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

LOL Jo, over your son-in-law breaking up a girl-fight in the subway! With a few thousand (mostly female) romance writers in The Big Apple, a few scuffles are bound to break out... Maybe Mike needs to make an emergency visit!


Pat Cochran said...

Add my name to the listing for the
Name-Forgetters of the World! I've
been known to have long conversations with people who come up to me at gatherings. As they walk away, Honey turns and says,"You have no idea who
that was, do you?" I have to agree
with him - I remember the incidents
from days gone by but have no idea of
the names!! The clue: I will not have
mentioned names throughout the gabfest!

flchen1 said...

Susan, you are TOO cute! I am pretty bad with names, and have had to shamefacedly ask a person mid-conversation (mere minutes after our introduction) his/her name again. *sigh* Hope you're having a fabulous time!