Cranky Pants: The Chef

If you are a novelist and you live in a small town you run into people who have read your novels now and then,  at the grocery store, at signings, when you stop by the neighbor’s place to ask about the missing newspaper delivery boy, at parties, on the bus. 

It makes sense to be polite and respectful, no matter who you are. No matter what kind of questions they ask you. But sometimes it’s really hard. Now, every profession has a list of questions they fear. For physicians I assume it goes like this: you’re browsing the dessert table at a wedding and the groom’s great uncle charges right up and challenges you: Would you look at this gigantic (fill in the blank) on my [foot, head, rear] and tell me what it is? 

The thing about questions from readers or would-be readers is that they are not always neutral or friendly. Once in a while you get a suspicious character who is sure you have cheated your way into publishing. From this person you may get a conversation that feels a little like an interrogation.

Sometimes you cannot get a handle on your temper.

This conversation didn’t go exactly this way. But I wish it had.

Person: So, you’re a writer, I hear. You don’t look like a writer.

Me: I get that a lot.

Person: What exactly do you write?

Me: Mostly novels.

Person: Novels! Really? Novels! Have any of them ever been published

Me: Quite a few, actually.

Person: Oh really. Are you one of those Amazon self-published types?

Me: I am not. What do you do for a living?

Person: I’m a chef. 

Me: Really? Have you ever cooked anything? Do you make money doing that or do you just cook for yourself? What kind of cooking do you do?  Do you cook real food? Would I have eaten anything you’ve cooked?  I’ve been eating pretty much every day for my whole life so that makes me an expert on food, and in fact I think I’ll be a cook. But I’ll only cook real food. I’m not interested fashionable stuff, it’s critical approval I’ll be after.  And a television show. 


Me: Thanks, you’re a real inspiration.

9 Replies to “Cranky Pants: The Chef”

  1. That’s hilarious. I’m sure it can be frustrating. At the same time, I think many people, myself included, are in awe of published authors. They are like celebrities to us. So yes, if I met someone and learned they had published novels, I’d be full of questions. But no, I wouldn’t assume they’re self-published. This person obviously has an inferiority complex and felt the need to bring you down by basically diminishing your accomplishments and insult you.

  2. I’m reading through your novels again the past few weeks and am enjoying them even more this time. In truth, it’s hard for me to get anything else done because my head is in Scotland. You, Ms. Lippi, are a wonderful, under-appreciated writer and you characters enrich my life. Thank you.

  3. I LOVE, “You don’t look like a writer.” I like to hear this, too: “Fiction? Hmm, I’m not into fiction. I only read stuff by serious writers,” or “I’ve always wanted to write a book. Guess I’ll just sit down and do it one of these days when I’ve got some spare time.” Yes. I absolutely, cross my heart, have heard those last two comments from people.

    May you stay forever strong in the face of stupidity, Rosina.

  4. Hee! Yeah, we women often don’t “look” like whatever we do for a living. And like the other person, I also re-read “Into the Wilderness” around Christmas. So I’ve been deep in snow and cold, crisp air thanks to you.

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