Thursday, August 09, 2007

Interesting Conversations in a Cafe

So for those of you who don't remember, I'm in Los Angeles this week. Which means I'm up at 4:00-5:00 am and asleep before dark, but hey, what are you going to do, right? Well, my hotel is crap but it's next to a pretty cool old-style family diner that stays open from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm, has good coffee and food and even an internet connection (the one in the hotel sucks). So I guess I don't have to tell you where I've been spending my out-of-class time.

This diner has an interesting mix of people. Mostly it's older folks, who are probably locals. You see a few who are definitely tourists (they've got small kids and have that I'm going to the beach look), and very few business men. The other population in the mix is younger people, probably not locals but recent transplants, and their conversations are all very similar in nature. They're all aspiring writers and are here in LA to make it big.

I say they're probably not local because the locals seem to be more low-key and quite frankly, these writers don't really seem to have a clue. They spend a lot of time talking really loud, making sure everyone is listening to their brilliance. They even glance around to see if someone is listening. Is this the way things are sold in LA? I'm figuring no, and that these people just all want a pat on the back for being an "artist" even though they haven't really accomplished anything but yelling in a cafe.

The first morning, I almost laughed out loud because the girl talking about her book, that would most definitely have a movie made about it, was about her life struggles. She was probably 18 and it sounded like her life wasn't any more difficult than any of 5 million other people, but I guess she thinks people would give a damn about her. Even though she's not famous....even though people have had fantastic lives that no one wants to hear about. So the guy with her is kissing her butt to a somewhat alarming degree and she's eating all this up.

When she launched into how she intended to give all proceeds from the book and movie to charity, I almost spit out my coffee. All I could think was, if this is a first book, you might need to borrow some money from a charity to get your marketing done.

So 'ole boy launches into a whole new round of butt-kissing about her selflessness and what a wonderful person she is and how he's always known that about her and about how her last boyfriend didn't see and appreciate all that. And all I'm thinking is, man, I hope you get some action out of this because you are laying it on REALLY thick. Even worse, she's buying every word of it which makes me think she'll probably be a horrible writer if she doesn't even understand base human motivation, but what do I know?

So the waitress stops by to refill my coffee and asks if I'm working on a book. I reply that I am and the two at the other table perk up. The guy looks over and says "are you an aspiring writer, too." To which I reply, "No, I stopped aspiring a couple of years ago." He nods and says "so now you just do it for fun." I shake my head and say, "No, now I just do it for publication."

So the two look impressed and I hand a bookmark to the waitress who is asking about my book and declaring she loves romance. The two wish me good luck and slink out the door and the waitress watches them, laughs, then leans over and says to me, "Five years of working here and listening to everyone push their stories. You're the first one I can actually go buy and you never said a word."

I just shrugged and said, "I'm not pretending. Writing isn't glamorous work. It's hard work, and it doesn't get done rehashing your story idea with everyone you know. Especially in a public place. That's the best way to kill your enthusiasm for the project. But then that's if you ever intended to actually sit down and write in the first place."

Now, don't get me wrong, I see this some in Starbucks back in Dallas. I've gotten the "are you an aspiring writer question there too." You don't even want to know the looks I get when I inform those tortured-looking, very literary reading, young writers that I write romance. Lord help, you'd think I peed in their coffees. I find it most amusing. But I've never been into a restuarant where I've heard so many people talking about writing. So is it because I'm in LA? Is everyone out here thinking they're going to live the dream and become millionaires?????


Anonymous said...

Your traveling may be tiring but I don't think you could say it is boring:) Just heard on Fox that there was an earthquake near LA this morning? Hope all is well. Mom

Jana DeLeon said...

There was an earthquake????? Well, hell, you know how I sleep. :)

Kelly Parra said...

haha! What a story, Jana! I don't know much about LA, but I think a lot of artists come to make their dreams come true.

Jana and Mom, don't worry too much about those earth shakes, the small ones are pretty common in CA!

Jaye Wells said...

My friend is one of these L.A."writers." She told me about this idea for a series--it's actually good. So she asks me if when she sells it if I'll come write on the show. My answer: Why don't you write at least one page of this before you start planning your staff?

Jana DeLeon said...

Kelly - I wasn't worried. Heck, I didn't even feel anything. I keep hoping to experience one at least once, but so far....nothing.

lol jaye - let me know if the job comes through.

Tori Lennox said...

LOL! People are so funny.

Diana Peterfreund said...

Jana De Leon, you owe me a new keyboard. I just spit tea all over this one. TOO FUNNY.

Jana DeLeon said...

Sorry, Diana. :) Guess I should have put a spew warning....

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