Eat Humble Pie And Die!

Writers are not just people who sit down and write.  They hazard themselves.  Every time you compose a book your composition of yourself is at stake.  ~E.L. Doctorow

By: Stacey Purcell

I had another article I was going to write today, but I ran across a series of emails that I felt compelled to share with all of you. Sit back and watch me eat humble pie and die!

It’s a doozie.

No, really- it was beyond embarrassing.

Background information: I’m first vice president of my writing chapter where I live. It’s a fairly time consuming and challenging job, but one I think that I handle fairly well. I bring in speakers every month from around the country to share their knowledge about writing or their particular profession. For instance, this spring we’ve had an ordained voodoo priestess, a literary agent teaching us about pitching, and a celebrated author (C. C. Hunter) sharing her inside knowledge of the YA market with us.

We’ve also gone on field trips and I’m in charge of our annual conference. Alexandra Sokoloff will be our key speaker this year, and we’ll have three agents plus an editor taking pitches as well. (If you’re in the area, it will be an awesome event and you won’t want to miss it. http://www.nwhrwa.com -Shameless plug, I know.)

Anyway, one of the hurdles I have to face is getting industry folks to commit to coming. This year, I set my sights on a particular agency. They have a wonderful reputation and both of their top agents are well liked. With high hopes I fired off my email requesting their attendance.

Things were going great. The first agent said she was already booked but would be happy to ask her associate. Yay! I loved her too. Then I waited. And waited. I sent a gentle nudge to see what was happening. And waited.

At this point, my nerves were getting frazzled. I knew I couldn’t ask another agency until I heard from this one. That would be rude. Little did I know that I would take rude to a whole new level!

Finally after two months, I got a response. It was not the one I wanted to read.

I would love to be there, but unfortunately I also already have a commitment that weekend. I hope you have a wonderful conference, though, and perhaps we can plan for 2012.

It was a perfectly lovely decline to our invite. She obviously had manners and responded with grace. What did I do? I decided I needed to let off some pent up anxiety over planning this shin dig. I wrote an email moaning over this new development with a snarky flair. I then sent it to the president of our chapter. (Hi Jenn)

Wow- they are just now getting back to me. Glad I wasn’t counting on them!!

Unfortunately I pushed the wrong button! Instead of the forward icon, I chose the reply one. OMG!!! I knew my mistake as soon as my mouse rolled over the little envelope with the arrow wrapped around it. How could I be so stupid?

Her response came quicker than I could say, “I’m moving to Siberia.”

I think this may have gone to the wrong person.

Wow. Really? Just slit my wrists and let me bleed out. I think my cheeks burned brighter than the sun that day. There was only one thing to do. I had to pull on my big girl pants and grovel like there was no tomorrow. Sigh.

After offering my first born child and apologizing until there were no words left, I waited for a response. I don’t know what I was more afraid of -getting one or never hearing from them again. I didn’t have long to wait.

No worries–I think we’ve all had that kind of email snafu. For the record, though, I responded within an hour of XXX”s email. 😉 I believe she was in Italy in when the invitation came through and then we had travel for a sales conference. We certainly try to get back to everyone as quickly as possible, and we really do appreciate the invitation.

This agent will forever be my hero. She could have raked me over the coals for my comment, instead she let me off the hook. I also made it a point to catch her in New York and introduce myself as the moron who couldn’t tell the difference between reply and forward. I apologized again and we had a good laugh. Thank goodness for folks with a sense of humor.

39 Responses to Eat Humble Pie And Die!

  1. Ah, Stacey… it’s happened to us all. The worst I ever saw was between two people in the same office, having what they thought was a discreet affair. One day, she sent him an email with rather graphic plans for the upcoming weekend…. and somehow it went to the entire company. I mean, from the CEO down to the custodians.

    Unfortunately, after the SEND button is punched, there’s no calling it back. The Internet is forever, trust me when I say that.

    You handled things correctly, like an adult, and it’s good to know the agent had a sense of humor about it. It’s happened to everyone at least once, and everyone can relate to it. As the expression goes, “Fuggedabowdit”….:)

    Like

  2. dandilyon says:

    Hilarious! I know I’ve done worse things than thi ;p I admire you more for owning up to it ;D A very funny and well written post that made me laugh (and blush with memories of my own!)

    Like

  3. jbrayweber says:

    I remember this incident well, Stacey. The best part is that this agent is very well respected for a reason, has a great personality, and she completely understands the frustrations of this industry. No doubt she felt a little sorry for you, too, thus sparing you.

    It was a big piece of pie, but you ate it with grace and dignity.

    Oh, and thanks for the shameless plug. 😉

    Jenn!

    Like

  4. vxl249 says:

    Nice story. Humility is a precious value not often seen. Love your blog. Mike

    Like

  5. Well, I don’t feel quite as foolish after reading Will’s comment. I can’t even imagine what that couple with amorous plans felt like after the company wide broadcast!!! Holy cow.
    I promise to always double check the buttons from now on.

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  6. Cheri Jetton says:

    Oh, Stace! I’ve had that sinking feeling before, too!
    ” No, no, come back–wrong button, wrong button! Argggghhhhh!”

    Being the precisely perfect Southern lady you are, the agent HAD to accept your apology, especially after meeing you in person. I can see you looking at her with puppy dog eyes, and a tremor to your mouth; I mean who could hold a grudge against that? LOL!

    Cheri

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  7. Hi Dandilyon- Sometimes doing the right thing is not the most comfortable avenue to take, but it needed to be done. I messed up! (Thank goodness I didn’t get any more snarky than I was!) She was lovely and didn’t deserve the brunt of my frustration. It was kinda like killing the messenger!
    Glad you had a good laugh. 🙂

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  8. I’m sure you DO remember this faux pas, Jenn!!!! You had to listen to me go on and on about what a goof head I was.

    The funniest part was when I met up with her in New York- I apologized again and made a few jokes at my own expense and then asked her to come to the conference next year! Ha!

    ….She told me to send her the dates as soon as I had it nailed down.

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  9. Hi Mike- Thank you so much for your kind words. I agree with you wholeheartedly about not having enough humility in the world. We all make mistakes. We’re human. I believe if more people- especially those who are decision makers- would approach things with a humble heart we would all be the better for it. Glad to “meet” you! Thanks for stopping by-

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  10. OK Cheri, what are you a writer??? “Puppy dog eyes and a tremoring mouth?”

    HAHAHAHA Thanks for the vote of confidence and I’m so happy she did accept my apology…. I’m not above using any of my southern assets!

    Like

  11. Avery Flynn says:

    This is great. Man, we have all done the crazy e-mail thing to the absolute worst person. So glad the agent turned out to be a doll. Have a bit of a girl crush on both of you right now. 🙂

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  12. Thanks Avery! Girl crushing right back at ya!!!

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  13. Ruth Kenjura says:

    Oh Stacey, you do such a wonderful job in your position, as the song goes “no one can do it better”. I applaud you and wish the voodoo priestess could come back. Looking forward to the conferecence and all the speakers you have lined up. So here is a pat on the back for the good job you do, a hug for the snafu and the promise of wine after the conference. Malbec right?

    Like

  14. OMG!! Yes, we’ve all been there. My snafu was a “text” that was meant for an “ex” and accidentally went to the man I was dating at the time. Poor man couldn’t understand just what he had done to make me so cross.
    Needless to say, I double check where I’m sending stuff now.
    You do a remarkable job and my hat is off to you and the rest of our chapter board.
    There is a reason I was never meant to be in charge of anything… some people are blessed with charm and organizational skills and some of us are here because we’re just so darn adorable. I’ll find where I belong someday as soon as the line forms for those of us who need adult supervision!
    Great post!!
    Hugs!

    Like

  15. Carla Rossi says:

    I’ve done two conferences for this same chapter (one during a hurricane) and all I can say is Bawahahaha….. hahahaha…… it happens…. I have a couple stories of my own. I’m glad the veterans told me in advance that publishing is a much smaller world than you think it is, so handle all awkward situations with grace, charm, and humor and all will be forgiven. (Thank God I am funny.) I love you Stacey and you do a great job, I don’t care what the others say about your embarassing behavior.

    Like

  16. Stacey,

    I’ll echo what William said. We’ve all done it. I think stress triggers it. When these things happen, we’re often at our wits end. It only happens once, though. I’m glad this worked out well for you. Now forgive yourself & move on.

    Cheers!

    Like

  17. Stacey,
    One of my tennis friends is a brilliant woman who works ( worked?) for NASA. While emailing back and forth between two colleagues, she inadvertently sent an email to the wrong woman that read, “I can see why you think she’s a b*tch.”

    Houston, we have a problem.

    Like

  18. Ahhhhhh a nice Malbec… I’ll be looking forward to that, Ruth! I’ll also take a Cabernet, a Merlot, or anything else red. 🙂 I’m sure I’ll need it by the time I crawl up to your famous, errr infamous wine and chocolate party after the conference. Thanks for having my back sista!!!

    Like

  19. Hey Robin- I love your story. I wonder how satisfying it would be to send a very very lovey note written to the new beau, but “accidentally” send it to the spastic (I’m sure!) old ex!! Hmmmm maybe this email snafu thing could be useful. So many stories, so little time.

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  20. Thanks Carla…..Uhm I think. 🙂

    I just wonder if you were bwhaha-ing my mistake or the fact that I’ve got the job now and you don’t. Maybe it’s a combo evil laugh.

    Just what is everyone saying about my embarrassing behavior???!?!?!??!??!!!!!!

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  21. Hi Vicky- At this point, I just have to have a good laugh about it all because there’s not a whole lot more I can do. Hey, it happens and they don’t call me Spacey Stacey for nothing! HAHAHAHA

    Like

  22. Houston, we DEFINITELY have a problem. Ouch! Did jobs disappear over this one? You always have the best stories, Elizabeth.
    PS. Good Luck at your very first book signing Meb Bryant!!

    Like

  23. Elizabeth Simmons says:

    Do you think NASA is closing because of an errant email? Uh-oh.
    Thank you for the book signing plug. I sure hope nobody asks me anything literary. ;>)

    Like

  24. Loretta says:

    Stacey:) Loved it!…Having worked for Halliburton, and observing the lethal trail of errant e-mails, I hate and seldom use, reply-all. I can never click it without having palpitations!

    And a side-bar to Elizabeth, Meb, Weezer…I’m asking a literary question. Bone up! 😉 …oh sigh, someone will make something of that won’t they? Lessee…CRAM the night before:)

    Lo

    Like

  25. J.D. Faver says:

    Hi Stacey!
    Would you like fries with that?
    Hard to choke down the humble pie, but as with everything else, you did it with style and grace.
    You continue to do such a fantastic job of all your jobs.
    and I’m sure the 2011 Lone Star Conference is going to be as great as the last one. Whoever receives your next invitation will be even better than your original choice.
    *hugs*
    ~June/J.D.

    Like

  26. Elizabeth Simmons says:

    Stacey,
    You have a done a brilliant job of scheduling guest speakers. Maybe Karma didn’t want the one that got away. lol

    Loretta,
    If you don’t stop trying to scare me, I’m gonna use a bone to conjure up a spell that will make your hair stand up!

    Like

  27. Loretta says:

    For God’s sake Weezer, my hair already stands up! And I have a gris-gris that can take on anything;)…gonna need more than a chicken bone!…:)

    Returning to the topic, I agree with Weezie, Stacey. The right speaker will show up for the conference…(well, let me qualify that, as long as you hit the right “send” key…the right speaker will show up for the conference…if you keep erroring out, we may need to fix “you” a gris-gris;):)

    Like

  28. OK Elizabeth (Weezer) and Loretta…I’m going to put both of you in a time out if you don’t straighten up! Be nice and give all the bones to the dogs.

    thanks for the good words about the part of the job that I’ve managed to do right!!

    Like

  29. Hey June-
    I surely would like some fries with that pie. They would taste a heck of a lot better than the other menu item.
    Thanks for the vote of confidence. We’ll keep our fingers crossed about the October Conference. I’m excited about the line up!

    Like

  30. Tess says:

    Bless your heart, Stacey!!! You do so much…

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  31. Thanks Tess- but as I recall you did a few rounds being treasurer! If you really wanted to see a rodeo, you all should sign me up for that position!!! Oh Lordy, I can’t even go there……

    Like

  32. Bethany says:

    Stacey,

    I feel for you. But I think everyone’s right. It was good of you to send an apology and I think that is so awesome that the agent was so forgiving!

    For the record, you rock as 1st V.P. You never cease to amaze me with how well you put things together. Looking forward to the Conference 🙂

    Like

  33. Thanks Bethany! I’m excited about the conference this year. Alexandra Sokoloff is a wonderful speaker, multi pubbed and has a terrific approach of using screen writing techniques to make your novel stronger. I’m also thrilled that we have 3 agents and an editor coming in too!! Yay!
    Northwest Houston RWA rocks!!!

    Like

  34. Oh that is one of my big fears Stacey! I thought I did that the other day, sent something to someone I shouldn’t have but I was okay. OOH I’m hoping I can make the conference again this year. I had such a great time last year 🙂

    Like

  35. Oh, noes! That’s embarrassingly familiar. I’ve done something similar–and I’ll bet that agent has as well. Good for you both for handling the moment gracefully.

    Like

  36. Hi Nicki-
    I really hope you can come to the conference again too! You are smart, funny and easy to be with-

    Like

  37. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one that has done the hair pulling, beat your head on the table dance! It truly is one of the worst feelings ever. The part that gets me is that as my finger moved over the button, my brain said “NO!”, but my finger pressed it anyway. If that doesn’t make you crazy, nothing will!

    Like

  38. Joan Reeves says:

    Stacey, that was minor considering some of the email suicides I’ve heard of over the years…

    Like the author who sent a blistering email to her friend about what her stupid editor had now done–except it didn’t go to the friend but to the editor.

    Or the author who did the same except the misdirected scathing email went to her agent about whom she was bitterly complaining.

    Or the author who sent an email to her BFF, calling another author’s recent book drivel and uninspired only the email went to, you guessed it.

    I call those “Author Suicide Files” and they’re full of stories like this. So much so that sometimes I think there needs to be an OK TO SEND button to click that makes you stop and review before sending.

    Like

  39. Are you sure all these ‘mistaken’ emails of doom aren’t really the Charleton Heston response to shirkers that lurks within us all–to “get your stinking paws off me you damned dirty ape!”

    At least that’s what I channeled when sending the entire company explicit sex-it-up emails from my boss.

    ps
    but please William, don’t stop those delicious guttural grunts

    Like

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