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00:00:09From the Center for the Study and the Teaching of Writing
00:00:11at The Ohio State University, this is Writers Talk.
00:00:13I'm Doug Dangler.
00:00:15Recent books published by Gretchen Hirsch include
00:00:18Talking Your Way to the Top, Business English That Works,
00:00:21A Love for Learning, Motivation and the Gifted Child,
00:00:25and The Complete Idiots Guide to Difficult Conversations.
00:00:28Her first novel, Back Again to Me was released in summer 2010.
00:00:32She is a writer for the Ohio Wesleyan University,
00:00:35President of Midwest Book Doctors
00:00:37and former corporate communicator.
00:00:39Welcome to Writers Talk, Gretchen Hirsh.
00:00:41Thank you.
00:00:42Glad to be here.
00:00:43Well let's start off with the most difficult question.
00:00:45You're the president of Midwest Book Doctors, what is a book doctor?
00:00:49Are they sick when they come in and they go out mended?
00:00:52How does that work?
00:00:53A lot of people actually believe that a book doctor rebinds books.
00:00:56I don't rebind books.
00:00:58I help people get their manuscripts ready for submission either
00:01:02to agents or editors or where ever they want to send a book.
00:01:05Something they think it's in really good shape
00:01:08and it's not quite there yet.
00:01:11And sometimes it's just a matter of fixing the commas and sometimes
00:01:14it's a matter of, oh my goodness, we need to go back to square one.
00:01:18Sometimes it's a matter of you need someone else to write this book?
00:01:20Has that happened?
00:01:21Sometimes that has happened, yes.
00:01:23What's the most common thing that you run into being a book doctor?
00:01:25What's the most common kind of repair that you have to do?
00:01:28All kinds of craft things.
00:01:30You know if you go to a writer's conference, the first thing
00:01:32that people say is, "How do I get an agent?"
00:01:34The first question I ask is, "Have you mastered the craft?"
00:01:38Because before you have the agent
00:01:39you really need to be able to write well.
00:01:41What do you mean by craft?
00:01:42Break that down for me.
00:01:43Tell me what you have in mind there.
00:01:45It depends a little but on genre, but for fiction,
00:01:50does your story flow well?
00:01:52Is it something that's going to be interesting to people?
00:01:54Does it. Are the characters alive or can you see
00:01:57the author's hand moving them around?
00:02:00That kind of thing that you can see when you read it might not be able
00:02:04to see when you write it.
00:02:06For nonfiction, are there holes in the research?
00:02:09Do the conclusions actually follow from what you say they follow from?
00:02:14And then just craft issues of commas, paragraphs, sentence structure.
00:02:21Ok. Tell me about some of your more surprising episodes.
00:02:25You don't have to name names,
00:02:26although that would be great if you could.
00:02:28What I'm interested in is you know, something that came in
00:02:31and you thought, "I don't know that this is going to make it"
00:02:33and you were able to get it accepted and it did well.
00:02:36Without giving a title.
00:02:38I did have a client who had two full notebooks of recollections
00:02:46and he thought it was a book.
00:02:49And we talked about it because the subject was very, very interesting
00:02:51and people would buy this book, but it was not ready.
00:02:55It was just two notebooks full of stuff.
00:02:59And I mentioned to him that I thought it would be good if he had
00:03:02first-person accounts rather than his recollections, but actually the
00:03:06people who were saying the things he said they said
00:03:08because some of it wasn't quite accurate.
00:03:12I will say that he was the best client ever.
00:03:14He went and did one hundred and fifty interviews
00:03:16and had them transcribed.
00:03:18Oh, that's the painful part. All the transcriptions.
00:03:21Yeah. So I had stacks of stuff to look at
00:03:24and we turned out a very good book and it did actually,
00:03:27was picked up, did sell very well.
00:03:30Especially in the area where the subject of the book lived,
00:03:33they went crazy there.
00:03:35Ok. Now that's an interesting thing for you to work through
00:03:38because you're a writer.
00:03:40You do all the writing, you help people take these books to market
00:03:45and then you disappear, I'm assuming.
00:03:47You know.
00:03:48You can't put your imprint on the book that you worked with, right?
00:03:50You have to say, "Oh no! They did that all by themselves."
00:03:53Oh no. I don't.
00:03:56Part of the fee can be that you get a little jacket credit.
00:04:02If people don't want to give jacket credit,
00:04:04the price might go up a little bit.
00:04:06But all of my authors with the exception of one have said fine,
00:04:11go ahead there, be there with me.
00:04:13So some of them are with books, most of them are with books.
00:04:17And there's a difference between that and say, ghost writing,
00:04:19because you're then going to be out there much more
00:04:22than you would have been otherwise.
00:04:24That's right.
00:04:25A ghost has to be a ghost.
00:04:29And has to be very quiet and discrete.
00:04:33I've heard this about some ghosts who weren't as discrete
00:04:35and quiet as they should have been.
00:04:37Who talked about it later?
00:04:40Is that something in your past that you've got experience with?
00:04:43Have you been a ghostwriter?
00:04:44Not yet?
00:04:45Yes, I have ghosted, but oh no, I would never tell.
00:04:48Well, I didn't think I could get you to tell, but I was hoping.
00:04:53So tell me about working through some of the issues that you've got
00:04:58being a fiction writer and well, starting with a non-fiction.
00:05:04You have a BA in English, of all things.
00:05:06Of all things.
00:05:07How did that work into where you are now?
00:05:11What did you take from that BA in English from a school of note,
00:05:14The Ohio State University?
00:05:16You may have heard of them.
00:05:17I did.
00:05:18I have.
00:05:19How did that work for you when you left school and wanted to get
00:05:22into publishing and into writing?
00:05:24What did you take from that?
00:05:26When I left school I had no intention of going into writing
00:05:29or publishing or anything.
00:05:31And that's why you have a BA in English.
00:05:34I was married by the time I graduated.
00:05:36I was pregnant by the time I graduated.
00:05:39I was going to be the suburban matron kind of person
00:05:43and for quite awhile I was.
00:05:46And then I joined the Junior League and I ended up teaching a course
00:05:49called Association Management Process, which was basically management
00:05:53by objectives for nonprofit organizations.
00:05:57When I found out as I went around to the nonprofits was this was a time
00:06:00when women were just beginning to flood into the workplace.
00:06:04They had been there, but this now, the floodgates were open
00:06:06and there was a lot of worry with women about time.
00:06:12How were they going to do all this because we'd all made the deal:
00:06:15"I'm going to go to work, but you'll never know that I've been gone.
00:06:18Nothing will change for you or the family."
00:06:21We made the deal.
00:06:24So what I found out as I went around was that women were really
00:06:26interested in the time part of this management process.
00:06:29And so one of them. I started teaching just the time part.
00:06:34And one of the women one day said to me, "Do you have a book?
00:06:39Because when I come from a class I'd really like to have something
00:06:42that I can refer to. Do you have a book?" No.
00:06:46So I went home and wrote one.
00:06:49That night?
00:06:50Overr a period, No.
00:06:52Over a period of time, longer.
00:06:53Over a period of time I did write one and I did it all wrong.
00:06:56I did all the things wrong that you're not supposed to do.
00:06:59Like what?
00:06:59What were you doing wrong?
00:07:01I wrote the book and then I had no idea of agents or anything,
00:07:07but I had an old friend who was a high school classmate
00:07:10who happened to be the editorial director at Avon Books.
00:07:12And if you remember Avon Books, they were women's books.
00:07:17I sent it off to her.
00:07:18Not a proposal, not a letter, nothing.
00:07:22The whole manuscript, to her house.
00:07:25Must have been a good friend at that point.
00:07:27And after three months I called her and said,
00:07:30"What ever happened to that book?" and she said,
00:07:31"You know, I think I should take it to the office." And she did.
00:07:35And her readers read it and they liked it.
00:07:38And that was sort of the beginning.
00:07:40Now it wasn't in Avon Books so she went out
00:07:42and found me her friend who was an agent.
00:07:45And her agent then sold the book.
00:07:47So your advise to writers is to go to school with someone who's
00:07:50going to be important and influential?
00:07:53It would be helpful.
00:07:54How did you then.
00:07:56What did you do after that?
00:07:58You've got this book out and you're working in time management though,
00:08:01which is different than your career.
00:08:03Than your college degree, right?
00:08:05Oh, yes.
00:08:06So how did.
00:08:07What was the turn from the college degree in English
00:08:10to the time management?
00:08:12Obviously if you've been raising a family
00:08:13you have time management skills.
00:08:16And I studied a lot.
00:08:17Before I wrote I studied a lot of what people were writing,
00:08:20what people were doing, what women were saying.
00:08:22So I did a great deal of research, which was part of what I was taught
00:08:26at The Ohio State University, how to research.
00:08:29And so the book was well researched, but it was fun.
00:08:33And that was another thing I learned was how to write in a way that's
00:08:37engaging and interesting for people to read.
00:08:41And that book turned out to be not the biggest bestseller
00:08:44in all the world, but I did well and it was fun.
00:08:49Now you used words like interesting and engaging.
00:08:52Interesting is difficult for me to pronounce, by the way.
00:08:54And I'd like to know how you define those?
00:08:57What makes for you interesting and engaging,
00:09:00I think is what you said, for readers?
00:09:02Making that subjective sort of objective.
00:09:04When you look at something, what is interesting about it for you?
00:09:08Say what was interesting about the book
00:09:09that you thought would draw people in.
00:09:11For nonfiction, once again, is a little different from fiction.
00:09:18For nonfiction I think it needs to be something
00:09:21that people can relate to.
00:09:22There needs to be examples there,
00:09:23there needs to be a part of life that they can relate to.
00:09:28A textbook is one thing, but a trade book is something else
00:09:31and I write trade books for people who are not scholars,
00:09:35but who will benefit from having my doing some studying
00:09:40and giving it to them in a way that's palatable and that they enjoy
00:09:43and that they can relate to because they understand the examples
00:09:47and they understand what I'm talking about.
00:09:49Ok. So now you've.
00:09:50After at some point we've gone up to your doing professional writing,
00:09:54you doing trade books, sending them out.
00:09:56Then you decide to do a novel.
00:09:58Tell me about the passage from one to the other.
00:10:01How did that happen?
00:10:02It was the longest passage you can ever imagine.
00:10:05This was a long time being born.
00:10:08And it's about adoption and pregnancy, so that's appropriate.
00:10:11Well, yes.
00:10:12I grew up in a house with doctors and obstetricians so this was a very
00:10:18interesting topic to me, childbirth is an interesting topic to me.
00:10:22The story came a long time ago.
00:10:24A friend of mine had had a.
00:10:27There had been a pregnancy in the family and the mother of the child
00:10:30had kept the child and decided
00:10:32to not allow the father's family into the process.
00:10:38And I was thinking, what would that be like to have a child in your
00:10:41family that you couldn't be close to.
00:10:43That you might see and might not, but that you were not going
00:10:47to have a lot of interchange with.
00:10:51And I thought that would be an interesting story.
00:10:55And many of my friends in high school had been touched
00:10:57by pregnancies like this and made different decisions.
00:11:02And I thought goodness, it's an interesting story from the mother's
00:11:06standpoint, but most birth narratives are from the mother standpoint.
00:11:11This is from the standpoint of the grandmother.
00:11:13What is it like to have a beloved grandchild and have this decision
00:11:20being made and you really can't control it.
00:11:23Ok. Well I think that you're going to read a passage to that, right?
00:11:27From that book today.
00:11:29So can you set up what is the opening for the passage
00:11:31that you're going to read.
00:11:33The narrator, whose name is Corrin, is the mother of the little girl
00:11:39who's having the baby and actually I'm not going to read about that.
00:11:42I'm going to talk about Corrin's relationship with her father.
00:11:45Her father was very, very important in her life.
00:11:48And he is.
00:11:50And she has been in Maine with her former father-in-law,
00:11:53former only because she is widowed.
00:11:54They are very, very close.
00:11:56And she has decided quickly to go to Florida
00:11:59because her father has had a heart attack.
00:12:02It is his second and she is very concerned
00:12:04about what his situation will be.
00:12:08So she is on the plane.
00:12:10"I tried to concentrate on the in-flight magazine but my father's face
00:12:13swam up from the pages.
00:12:15Checking my watch again, I was frantic when I realized only ten minutes
00:12:18has elapsed since the last time I looked.
00:12:20I prayed I wouldn't be too late.
00:12:22What would my life be without Daddy?
00:12:24Who would be my family?
00:12:26Certainly not mother and Diane.
00:12:28They were joined at the hip, and the shoulder and the ankle, too.
00:12:31There was no room for me.
00:12:33It had been that way for years, beginning with my twelfth birthday.
00:12:36That evening, the family had just returned from my birthday dinner.
00:12:40I got to pick the restaurant so we went to the Fire Station,
00:12:43which I thought was very glamorous
00:12:44because on your birthday the waiter shimmied
00:12:47down the fire pole carrying your cake and singing happy birthday.
00:12:50It was the perfect spot for me.
00:12:52Somewhat socially awkward, even faced featured girl, still young enough
00:12:57to get excited about a birthday cake, but old enough to wish I could
00:12:59vault right over this birthday and catapult straight into my teens.
00:13:03With all the right and privileges I thought came with that milestone.
00:13:07We were late getting home so Diane, who was only seven,
00:13:10was sent straight to bed.
00:13:11I went to my room too, right next to mother and daddy's.
00:13:14I put away the delicate turquoise bracelet grandma Shelly had sent
00:13:17from Phoenix and scanned the Nancy Drew I got
00:13:20from my best friend, Lotty Myer.
00:13:22I could hear mother and daddy talking, their voices raise,
00:13:25which was unusual.
00:13:27They never fought.
00:13:28They had "discussions", but always in private because pictures had
00:13:31ears, or something like that.
00:13:34This particular discussion seemed pretty intense, so I plopped down
00:13:37next to the heating duct beside my bed, which not only delivered
00:13:40intermittent blasts of stifling heat in the winter, but also served as
00:13:44a relatively reliable megaphone between the two rooms,
00:13:47offering me a smorgasbord of adult tidbits.
00:13:50Seated by the vent during the last couple of years, I heard a lot of
00:13:53boring conversations about insurance policies and someone named John
00:13:56McCarthy who my parents thought was a bigger menace than the Reds,
00:13:59whatever that meant.
00:14:00I learned that "The Peeper," a notoriously inaccurate gossip columnist
00:14:04at one of the daily newspapers had been involved in some sort of a
00:14:08menagerie, with two women!
00:14:11I thought that was pretty exciting as I conjured up mental images of
00:14:14"The Peeper" among all the animals, snapping his whip at the lions,
00:14:17while the women swung from the trapeze and road bareback.
00:14:22I heard my parents laughing and talking about just desserts, which
00:14:24seemed to me like a great name for a restaurant.
00:14:28I also found out that my mother's cousin Harriet lost her job at some
00:14:31flossy girls academy because it was suspected that she and her best
00:14:34friend Josie where thespians and Harriet was thus considered an unfit
00:14:39companion for upper-crust young ladies.
00:14:42I looked up thespian in my dictionary and couldn't figure out why the
00:14:44school would fire Harriet for being an actress.
00:14:48But on that birthday, the subject was me.
00:14:52"Don't you know her at all?" my father said.
00:14:54"What were you thinking with the dress you bought?
00:14:56She can't wear all that frou-frou!
00:14:58It would be alright for Diane, but Corey can't pull it off,
00:15:01she'll look like a lampshade!
00:15:02And ballet lessons?
00:15:04She wants to take that tumbling class, not ballet.
00:15:07She's built more like a fire plug than a swan."
00:15:10That hurt, but I had to admit, I was too square bodied to cle and
00:15:13releve with much elegance.
00:15:16"I think I do know my daughter, Bill," mother said.
00:15:19She would have hissed if there were any S's in the sentence.
00:15:23"Really?" I could envision Daddy cocked brow
00:15:25as he gently challenged my mother.
00:15:27"Who do you think raised her when you were over seas?"
00:15:29I heard mother's pearls klink on to the top of her vanity
00:15:33as if they'd been dropped from a height.
00:15:35"We were together nearly night and day for four years.
00:15:37I understand her quite well".
00:15:40"Then let her be who she is.
00:15:41She's quick and funny and she's a tomboy."
00:15:44That last part was certainly true.
00:15:46"You'll never make a little lady out of her and when you try
00:15:48you're as subtle as a sledgehammer."
00:15:53Go daddy.
00:15:55Diane was gentle, feminine, pliant, a real girly girl with blonde
00:15:59curls, round blue eyes and rosy cheeks.
00:16:02Mother often implied that she'd be a happier woman
00:16:04if I'd emulate my sister just a little more.
00:16:07"Fine," said mother in that tone women use
00:16:10when you know everything is not fine.
00:16:12"I'll tell you what, since you know her so well,
00:16:15why don't you just take over?
00:16:17See how you do.
00:16:18I'm obviously not up to the job".
00:16:21My mother would never slam anything,
00:16:23but the bathroom door closed forcefully.
00:16:26"Oh, Kathy, come on.
00:16:26Don't be ridiculous".
00:16:28The door opened as mother said, "No, I mean it, Bill.
00:16:31You're gone from dawn to dusk, we hardly ever see you,
00:16:34but you seem to have all these opinions
00:16:35about how I'm bringing up the girls, particularly Corrin.
00:16:39Put your money where your mouth is.
00:16:40Take her.
00:16:41Raise her.
00:16:42She's all yours".
00:16:44For awhile I sat by the vent waiting for them to go on,
00:16:47but all I heard was the dank silence of two people
00:16:49who knew it would be dangerous to say more.
00:16:52I undressed, leaving my clothes in a heap on the floor,
00:16:55climbed into bed and stared at the ceiling.
00:16:58I wasn't surprised at my mother's words.
00:17:00I'd known this would happen. Eventually."
00:17:04So, you get a lot of Corrin's view there.
00:17:08Tell me about creating a character like this. What.
00:17:12When you were thinking about writing it
00:17:13did you have people in mind and did you go to the mall?
00:17:16I've talked to a lot of authors that go to the mall
00:17:18and sort of hang out, but this set in a different time period
00:17:20so mall speak isn't going to help you in this.
00:17:24But it puts you in the mind set of somebody who's,
00:17:27tell me again, twelve, in the book.
00:17:30And this is in the fifties.
00:17:31So, how did that enter into it when you were trying
00:17:34to figure out the characters?
00:17:36What did you do to get the characters down?
00:17:39I had a picture in mind of what she looked like and then I thought,
00:17:44what is she really like?
00:17:46Not so much what does she look like, but what is she really like.
00:17:48So I did write a biography of her, about her family, about her father,
00:17:52her mother, her sister.
00:17:54What was her life like?
00:17:56And it's pretty much there on the page.
00:17:59So it all. Even though it was an exercise you did for the writing of it,
00:18:04you still got to use the content in it somewhere else.
00:18:07Ok. So, what was it like going from a lot of the non-fiction to fiction?
00:18:13Was that a pleasant experience for you or was it genre switch?
00:18:17How did that work?
00:18:18It was so much fun because this is the story I had wanted to tell
00:18:20for years and years and years and it was so much fun.
00:18:23And yes, I did have it all plotted out and I did all the things
00:18:26that fiction writers are supposed to do,
00:18:28but the characters were so surprising.
00:18:30And they often just came along and did something I didn't expect.
00:18:34And so it was kind of fun to sit at the keyboard and watch them
00:18:39because to me that's what I was doing,
00:18:42watching them which is very different from writing nonfiction
00:18:44where you're looking at a source and trying to make sense out of
00:18:47a lot of various sources and putting them together.
00:18:50This was people doing things.
00:18:53So does this make you think you're going to write another one?
00:18:55Another fiction? Or was it.
00:18:59Have you started on that then?
00:19:00I have the outline, yes.
00:19:03Does it involve any of these characters?
00:19:04It does.
00:19:05Peripherally, yes.
00:19:08They won't be major characters, but they will be there.
00:19:11Now you also teach non-fiction writing at the Thurber House.
00:19:14How does that differ, say, from dealing with other age groups?
00:19:19Because I think that this is an older category of people
00:19:22at the Thurber House, am I right on that assumption?
00:19:25So how do you do with those folks?
00:19:27Well, I think you have to respect the experience they already have.
00:19:31And that's true with everyone, even with little children,
00:19:35but people have experience.
00:19:36People maybe might not know how to get that experience out.
00:19:41And so my job is to try to help them bring
00:19:44what they want to say to the front.
00:19:50You have a YouTube film.
00:19:53On your website where you talk about the book,
00:19:55you do a three-part interview.
00:19:56What lead you into that?
00:19:57How did you get involved into
00:19:58doing that kind of promotion for your book?
00:20:01Just because I think if you have a book like this,
00:20:04that appeals to certain types of people,
00:20:07you go where they are and where they are today is on the Internet.
00:20:12Ok. Was that something that your publisher came up with?
00:20:15Was that suggested to you? This your own idea?
00:20:18It was my idea.
00:20:19And I will tell you that the person who took the video is my
00:20:22son-in-law who is a professional videographer. So I.
00:20:25I think you're in sort of a garden-y bower kind of thing.
00:20:29The garden-y bower is in my back yard.
00:20:31You're outside.
00:20:32So it was very difficult for you to go back there and shoot a video
00:20:37talking about a book that you've been wanting to write for a long time.
00:20:39Oh yeah, it was terrible.
00:20:40So hard.
00:20:42But in seriousness, how did that affect you as an author?
00:20:45All of a sudden you've got to talk about, you've got to look into the
00:20:47camera or look slightly to the left of the camera.
00:20:49And I feel like.
00:20:50It feels artificial.
00:20:51It does.
00:20:53How did that influence, you say the next time
00:20:55that you're sitting down to think about
00:20:57I want to write and how am I going to talk about that?
00:20:59Does that enter into your mind now that you're thinking
00:21:01once I put this all on the page,
00:21:02I have to not want to talk about it,
00:21:04but talk about it in front of a camera. Does that influence you?
00:21:07I'm just curious about the impact of technology on writers.
00:21:11For certain writers I feel like it would be very, very difficult.
00:21:15There are some writers who are terribly introverted.
00:21:17They want to write, be left alone, publish their book
00:21:20and you take care of it.
00:21:22You take care of it.
00:21:24I'm going to sit here and I'm going to write
00:21:25and I think that's very difficult for publishers to deal with.
00:21:27I mean people want to see who's writing.
00:21:30They want to talk to the writer.
00:21:32I've always enjoyed that part of it a lot.
00:21:34Now this is a self-published book.
00:21:36And so that's.
00:21:37And since you have a lot of familiarity with the publishing industry
00:21:39I think that probably worked well for you or more easily for you.
00:21:43Tell me about taking things through self-publishing.
00:21:46Especially since you've got, like I said, technology that allows for a
00:21:49very different kind of self publishing than what used to be the sort of
00:21:53some of the older vanity presses.
00:21:55You can do things now.
00:21:56I think you've got print on demand
00:21:59For this novel on Amazon.
00:22:00How did that work for you?
00:22:01It's working very well.
00:22:03It's not because I don't have the kind of time that I need to market
00:22:07the book and sell the book and do the appearances and so on.
00:22:09I have a job.
00:22:11I have a day job plus I have all these other things that I do.
00:22:14It isn't taking off, if it isn't huge, but that was never my aim.
00:22:21If it happened it happened.
00:22:23What I wanted to do was get it down on the page.
00:22:25It was really important to me.
00:22:27Cause it seems like it feeds into the idea of the log tail of the
00:22:31Internet which you've got all these things that are available that
00:22:34previously would not have been as easily available.
00:22:39And you sell smaller numbers of copies, but a lot more of them,
00:22:43a higher number of them.
00:22:45Do you have clients that you're working with as a book doctor
00:22:48that do a lot of that kind of?
00:22:50Do they come in and say, "Alright.
00:22:51I'm not as interested as selling this giant thing,
00:22:54but I want it out there.
00:22:56I want to be available.
00:22:56I want it to be print on demand."
00:22:58And is that something that's really attractive to them?
00:23:00It is because a lot of my clients are wanting
00:23:03a back-of-the-room book.
00:23:04A lot of them are speakers and they wanted a book
00:23:07they have at the back of the room.
00:23:09That's a category, the back-of-the-room book?
00:23:11Back-of-the-room book.
00:23:12OK so there's fiction, non-fiction and back-of-the-room book, ok.
00:23:14And they want that so that when their speech is over, their talk,
00:23:19their appearance, that there is a book at people can buy.
00:23:23And it's for some people a major part
00:23:25of the income of speaking engagements.
00:23:29So, how many books can you sell at these things?
00:23:31What's your touchstone is ok, Bob sold- Bob sold.
00:23:36Well what happens generally at an appearance
00:23:38is you can almost count on one in four will buy.
00:23:42If you're lucky, one in two.
00:23:44And I once had an experience selling it out.
00:23:48Having every single person in the room
00:23:49and it was a big room so it was exciting.
00:23:51Oh, well that's awesome.
00:23:52Now did you run into anything, like you wouldn't let them leave
00:23:53until the bought a book? Is part of it?
00:23:56Nope, Just happened.
00:23:58You also wrote The Complete Idiots Guide to Difficult Conversation.
00:24:02What characterizes a difficult conversation and why do complete idiots
00:24:05keep having them in your view since you've written the book on it?
00:24:09I think the biggest reason people
00:24:10have difficult conversations is fear.
00:24:14They're afraid of something.
00:24:15They're afraid of someone else's reaction,
00:24:17they're afraid of losing their job,
00:24:20they're afraid of losing a friend,
00:24:22they're afraid to tell the truth
00:24:23because all of these repercussions might happen.
00:24:28So how did you get involved working with The Complete Idiots people?
00:24:31Is that something where you put in a proposal?
00:24:33Did they come to you?
00:24:34Did they think you knew a lot about difficult conversations?
00:24:36You've had it with? Did you go to school with them?
00:24:39What's the writer's take on that?
00:24:40It was another fluke.
00:24:43My agent called and said, "I have a situation here.
00:24:47I have sold a book and the writer has bailed.
00:24:51Do you think you can write about this topic?"
00:24:53And I said, "Of course I can write about this topic! You fool!"
00:24:57And that was your first difficult conversation? You got over that?
00:25:00We got over it and then I actually had to prepare the proposal,
00:25:04which I did and they bought it and it was ok.
00:25:07So they bought a different proposal than the one
00:25:09that they originally purchased?
00:25:10I think they did, slightly.
00:25:13What was your learning out of that particular experience?
00:25:17Because you went into it probably not necessarily
00:25:19being an expert of difficult conversation,
00:25:22but you read up on it, you learned.
00:25:24Would you do that kind of thing again
00:25:25and what are your limitations do you think?
00:25:27I would do it again because now I know how.
00:25:29It's a very difficult thing to start out doing and my agent actually
00:25:33said to me, "You're going to hate me for the first six chapters
00:25:35and then you'll love me."
00:25:37And she was right.
00:25:38It's only a five-chapter book though, so that's a problem.
00:25:42It's a formula and it's specific.
00:25:46They want it done a very specific way and in a specific time frame
00:25:50and it's difficult, but once you get through that first half,
00:25:54my agent was absolutely right.
00:25:56Oh now I get it.
00:25:59Now I see how this works.
00:26:00But it takes a bit of a curve to get you there.
00:26:04Tell me about your suggestions to students
00:26:06going into professional writing.
00:26:08Say somebody's getting a BA in English, heaven forbid, at this point
00:26:12what do you think they should do if they want to go into professional
00:26:15writing as opposed to getting an MFA
00:26:17or teaching or something like that.
00:26:19I would look at corporations.
00:26:21I would look at places where people still need to be able to write.
00:26:25I would be looking at the web.
00:26:27I would be studying web writing carefully because it is different.
00:26:33It's not as deep.
00:26:37You have to be able to get things told quickly.
00:26:40And a lot of people think that the web,
00:26:43you don't have to write as well for the web.
00:26:44I think you have to write better because it's pure word.
00:26:48I mean there may be a few images on the page, but it's pure word
00:26:52and you have to be able to get that message across.
00:26:55And what I see, generally, on websites, is horrible.
00:27:00It's jargon. It's awful.
00:27:04Don't hold back.
00:27:05I won't.
00:27:06Tell me what you really feel here.
00:27:08It's dreadful.
00:27:10The talking the way to the top deals with a lot of that because it's.
00:27:17You can't understand what a lot of companies do if you read their
00:27:21website because they're so busy synergizing leverages
00:27:24an leveraging synergies.
00:27:28I noticed you have a blog post decrying the use of "ize."
00:27:34The "ize" do not have it.
00:27:39And so you've got all that and that's on your website at
00:27:44I'd like to thank you, for being here on Writers Talk, Gretchen Hirsch.
00:27:47So, from The Center for the Study and Teaching of Writing
00:27:50at The Ohio State University,
00:27:51this is Doug Dangler saying, keep writing.
Note : Transcripts are compiled from uncorrected captions