[Introduction: Melanie Stormm continues her humorous series of posts about the misdirected emails she’s been getting. Stormm is a multiracial writer who writes fiction, poetry, and audio theatre. Her novella Last Poet of Wyrld’s End is available through Candlemark & Gleam. She served as guest editor for issue 43.4 of Star*Line, an issue focused entirely on Black voices in the speculative arts. Find her in her virtual home at coldwildeyes.com. Wipe your feet before entering.]
A Fated Run In With Neil Gaiman Outside the BAM Bathrooms
By Melanie Stormm: It’s been a tough week for me. I don’t think I’ve gotten many pages written in my current work-in-progress but you know what I did get? Another email from Writer X. Apparently she saw Neil Gaiman at her local bookstore. I looked it up and I think she’s kind of delusional because last I read Neil Gaiman was in New Zealand or something, isn’t he? Anyway, spotting Not Neil Gaiman at her local bookstore appears to be the least of her writing problems.
Same as last week, names and email addresses are removed…except for Gladys, who is too big for anonymity. All typos (including the word bread) belong to Writer X.
I’ve included a screen shot and have copied and pasted the rest of the text below.
Will be sure to share if I get any more though I think she’s probably catching on that Gladys isn’t getting her emails. In the meanwhile, come get it while all hell hasn’t broken loose.
Subject: I saw Neil Gaiman
You haven’t told me at all what you think about Grim Dark. I’m beginning to think you’re not reading these. I really need you to read these because I really need your help right now about Grim Dark!! I’m fighting for my life writing these pages. This week I took off three days to get writing done. It turns out that the local BAM bookstores are actually open and are letting people sit inside the building. There’s one that’s closer to my house but it’s small and cramped and things have gotten really awkward with the Barista there (a really unfortunate turn of events) so I drove to the one that has a better atmosphere that’s about 90 minutes away.
Anyway, the first day off, I packed all my writing things: my laptop, my leather notebook with all of the fancy scrollwork and the phrase “Magic Happens” on the cover, three of my four best pens, three Brandon Sanderson novels, a special edition of LOTR, a Star Trek encyclopedia, two erasers, my favorite coffee mug, my writing slippers, and a small flower vase.
Then I got in a car accident. I don’t even want to go into it, but they towed me back home. The next day, my car was in the shop all day so I couldn’t get to BAM so I didn’t get any writing done because I had really envisioned starting this Grim Dark book at the bookstore. I think writing there is going to really help me write, feeling surrounded by all those books.
The third day I made it down to BAM and I was going to get set up in a coffee shop but a local volunteer tutoring group took up all the best tables!! All they’re doing is teaching underprivileged kids how to read, do they even need the good table? So while I’m waiting for them to finish, I went to the counter and ordered some cold coffee drinks. I was really tired, I keep waking up in the middle of the night.
Anyway, there was this guy at the coffee counter hanging out with the barista. I ask the barista when the reading squatters are going to clear out and he says they’re usually there for a couple hours. So I ask him if he could just ask some of them to move so that I can have the big table by the window. He says there’s a table by the window free but that’s one of those dinky little two-seaters and I like to have all my Brandon Sanderson books open to pages with scenes I love and there’s no room. Barista decides to be a total stick in the mud about the tables but he makes me a frozen latte with extra chocolate, extra extra sweet, and four extra espresso shots for no extra charge.
Meanwhile his friend is looking at my laptop bag and my writing box and he asks what I’m up to and I tell him I’m a writer. This guy has a big orange beard the color of a bottle of Fanta and a matching orange baseball cap and he’s leaning on the counter the entire time like he owns the place. He says his ex-wife is a writer. Whatever.
Everyone thinks their ex-wife is a writer, Gladys. I tell him that’s odd because I don’t know any other writers other than me. We’re a rare bread.
He says his wife/ex-wife whatever is a rare bread too and I ask him what’s that supposed to mean. He asks me what I like to write. I tell him that I’m a writer, this isn’t a hobby. So he says “what are you working on now.” I tell him about my new grim dark saga. He says grim dark is his favorite sub-genre but that it’s not as popular as it was in 2018 so it might be a hard sell. I told him I think good writing sells itself. He asks me what grim dark writers I’ve read and I just squint at a bottle of Torani syrup and pretend I didn’t hear him.
Then he asks me to summarize quickly what my story’s about and I tell him I can’t exactly summarize a nine book saga can I? Then mister-wize-*ss asks me what else I’ve written and that’s when something in me CRUMBLES.
What else HAVE I written Gladys? I mean, I have that story loosely based off of True Blood but I never finished it. I guess I could, but I think it would be easier to sell that one after I finish this saga. Anyway, I don’t want to tell this guy that all I’ve ever written is some True Blood fan fiction and a bunch of short stories that chronicle C___’s and my romance. He’ll laugh at me. How am I supposed to show Mr. Wize *ss that I know more about grim dark than he does?
Then, to top it all off, he says his EX-WIFE used to take him to writing conventions and she would pitch her current book to agents and she had to do it in 60 seconds or something and I thought that was just ridiculous. A b0ld-faced lie. Those can’t be real agents. People who really understand writing know that you just can’t summarize what a book’s about in a few sentences. Otherwise, why write a whole book? But anyway, something about what this guy was saying started to really get to me, what with him asking about which grim dark writers I read and having to summarize my saga. Then he says that his wife’s book is over in the fantasy section and that’s when I know this guy is full of crap.
Either he’s full of crap or everything i think about the world is wrong. If his ex-wife were really a writer, he’d be rich and living in Scotland or New Zealand. He wouldn’t be at BAM.
Finally, when I did get a seat and get all my stuff in place, I opened up my laptop and that’s when the coffee hit me. I couldn’t think of anything. The whole place felt incredibly loud. The barista kept grinding beans. The fluorescent lights were going thack thack thack on my brain.
I don’t think I like their lighting in these places. Fluorescent is the least writerly light. This was not what I was planning. I’m looking around me and this place isn’t as atmospheric as I thought it was. Who puts a cafe for writers right next to a shelf of foodie magazines and a bunch of flushing toilets? That’s not very literary. Is WHAM playing in a constant loop over my head LITERARY????? How am I ever supposed to get this book written? I have a goal of having this published by Tor books by December and all I can think about is how it’s already August and I’m starting from square one.
Then, all I can do is think about my bladder so I pack everything up so that Mr. Wize-*ss doesn’t just come over and start reading my stuff and finding out that I’m not a real writer at all and I head to the bathroom.
And that’s when I saw Neil Gaiman. At least I’m pretty sure that it was Neil Gaiman. He wasn’t as tall as I imagined, but he was coming out of the men’s bathroom and we passed in the hall and he just sort of looked at my writing box and looked like he was going to say something but my cellphone began to ring.
Gladys, I saw Neil Gaiman!!!!! IT’S A SIGN!!!!!! I’m going to be as famous as Neil Gaiman!!!!
Do you think I should send him my book to read? Gladys, I need you to find his email address while he still remembers me from the bathroom hallway!!! Tell him I was the lady wearing all pink with the BOX!!!
Other than seeing Neil Gaiman, the whole three days were a wash. When I got home from the bookstore I just missed the mail truck but he should have been watching where he was going anyway.
Slipped in among my eversource and internet bills there’s a letter wthout a postmark. It’s from The Society’s secretary and they’ve typed it out on a real typewriter I know because you can see the little raised indentations on the back of the note. I really wish these people would go away, they already cost C___ his life. The note tells me that they know that I burned “certain items” last week and that I should get in touch with them “post haste” because the articles that I burned were actually protective charms and if I don’t get the charms resurrected before the next full moon all hell will break loose.
I think I’m fine.
Gladys, I really need you to do me a favor and write down a 60 second script on what you think my book is about and send it to me and then I’ll tell you if you’re wrong.
Will send the first chapter of my new Grim Dark saga next week when things will have calmed down.