Thursday, October 18, 2012

Banana Peelin' with Kelly DiPucchio


 I'm in love. But you see, it's quite complicated. We are what you might say...star-crossed.  Here is a picture of me and my beau.
Okay, okay. I know what you're thinking. Isn't this that guy Mortimer? And isn't he with that one gal, Mildred?
Fine!  You caught me. Our love is NOT star-crossed, but unrequited. That's what I get for loving a zombie!
You can only imagine my delight when Mortimer's creator, the literary brains behind one of my favorite picture books, Zombie in Love, agreed to come on the blog to discuss one of her not-so-shining moments in her career as a children's author. Please welcome the talented Kelly DiPucchio!

Most good stories involve some form of humiliation, promiscuity, or self-loathing. My Banana Peelin’ story meets all three criteria. And now that I’ve used the word “promiscuity” you have no choice but to read on.

            Many years ago when I was newly published, I attended an industry party hosted by my agent.  The room was full of famous authors, artists, and prominent editors.  I was absolutely star-struck. I alternated between feeling like Cinderella at the ball and feeling like an imposter who was about to be asked to leave the premises at any moment.

            At one point during the evening, I found myself standing next to one of my new editors. I will call her The Dragon Lady because she scared me. She was confident, cool, and sophisticated. In other words, she was everything I was not back in 2003. I introduced myself to The Dragon Lady. She was polite, but unaffected. We made small talk about the party. The longer I was around her, the more nervous I became. She casually asked, “So what other projects are you working on?”  I knew she really didn’t care what my answer was, but I wanted to impress her. I wanted her to like me!  And that’s when I developed a violent case of verbal diarrhea. 

My performance was very much like the infamous scene in Bridesmaids, only the cringe-worthy explosions were coming out of my mouth.  Maybe it was the glass of wine. Maybe it was the fact that the room was hotter than a sweat lodge. Or just maybe it was 20 years of crippling insecurity and self-doubt purging its ugly self all over this icy woman who had already made up her mind she didn’t like me. Whatever the cause, I proceeded to tell her about every book deal I had with her publishing competitors. In hindsight, I realize now this is a bit like telling your boyfriend about all of the other cute guys you’re sleeping with. 

            When my full-disclosure filibuster finally came to an end, Dragon Lady quickly excused herself, and I was left standing there with a glass of wine and a bucket of self-loathing.  I’d like to tell you the humiliation stopped there, but like any great horror film, just when you think it’s over - it’s not.

            The next day, I attended Dragon Lady’s session at a conference. The room was packed with nearly 800 writers and illustrators. Once again, Dragon lady was confident, cool, and sophisticated. After extolling a few industry niceties, she proceeded to discuss the pitfalls and perils of publishing promiscuity. I began to blush, and sweat, and shrivel in my seat.

“There’s a real danger in new authors spreading themselves too thin!” she spat. At that point, I fully expected a large spot light to begin scanning the audience before finally landing on me. Groan. I just wanted to disappear.

            Surprise, surprise.  I never did sign another book deal with Dragon Lady. But I did learn a very valuable lesson from that experience. Two actually.

            The first: SHUT UP. The “less is more” golden rule that applies to picture books also applies to social sharing.  Remember that, people! It’s important.

            The second:  SO WHAT? We all make blunders, look foolish, and say the wrong thing at the wrong time. So what? Let’s not take ourselves so seriously. Forgive yourself. Laugh at yourself. And when you slip and fall on that banana peel, say “Thank you!” Those awkward moments usually provide the best material for your stories.

40 comments:

  1. Kelly, thanks for sharing your story. I can relate to having embarrassing moments. I call them "Seinfield Moments" (reference to the Seinfield TV show)...I feel like I need to go back the next day and explain or redeem myself.
    Great post!

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    1. Ah yes. I know those Seinfeld moments well Angela! Thanks for your comment!

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  2. Really enjoyed your post, Kelly! Thanks for the "So, What?" advice. It's hard to think of that in that embarrassing moment, but you'r so right. At some point, we all have to just learn from the experience and move on because we can't really go back and erase what happened. And yes, those embarrassing moments can be a book someday. Angela—Love your "Seinfeld Moments". Great analogy. Elizabeth, here's an idea: you should turn your blog into a book. I'm sure you've collected enough terrific material by now.

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    1. Natasha! I've thought about that. I wonder how that would work? I've read that people expect new content in a blog book. Hmmm... do you know of anyone with experience with this? It would be the kind of book I would love to own. =) Thanks so much Natasha and I look forward to your post next week!

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  3. These banana peel moments seem to be getting slippier and slippier! I like the "So What?" advice, too! After all, life goes on! And I'll bet that Dragon Lady doesn't even like bananas anyway. Well, OK, she might like Bananas Foster because she could ignite it herself.

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    1. Ha! You're funny! Thanks for your coment Penny!

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  4. Thanks for sharing your story Kelly. I liked the "So What?" advice since the banana peel moments will happen to all of us.

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  5. Great story. Fortunately few such encounters are fatal, something we all need to remember. Thanks for telling your story here.

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  6. Thanks for the support, ladies! I'm laughing at the Bananas Foster comment. What a visual!
    Thanks for sharing your space with me today, Elizabeth!

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    1. Thanks so much Kelly for your wonderful contribution to the blog! =)

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  7. Thanks for sharing. Zombie in Love sounds awesome. I love anything zombie.

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    1. Rena, it is such a great book! Thanks for your comment!

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  8. Wonderful story, Kelly. I think we've all had those cringe-worthy moments where our mouths just keep on going (and going, and going). It's a good reminder to stop -- and also a good reminder to laugh it off when you have to!

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  9. LOVED this post! Thanks Kelly for sharing your inspiring story with us.

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  10. Thanks for sharing this great story - me and my 7 and 8 year olds love Zombie In Love!

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    1. Isn't that book great?! Just love it! Thanks for your comment Ramona!

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  11. Thank you so much for sharing -- both your banana peel moment and that excellent "So What?" advice!

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  13. Truly loved this and we all need to remind ourselves of the 'so what'! Even the cool and confident experience those moments sometimes - no one is 100% infallible :) we just need to have empathy for our fellow humans when they are having their own 'so what' moment :) Thank you Kelly and Elizabeth for the reminder!

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    1. Empathy? Imagine that ! =) Thanks so much Kim for your comment!

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  14. I like the "so what" advice. I've slipped on a banana peel and then had the slimy shoe land firmly in my mouth. I will now extoll the virtues of SO WHAT? Or, FFFO WAHHHH, as it sounds with shoe inserted.

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    1. Hank u Ta fa ya comen. (Foot in mouth translation: Thank you Tara for your comment. =) )

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  15. Thank you for your banana peelin' moment. It's so true about letting it go. And letting it go by sharing it publicly with people who will feel for you but also (possibly) learn from it is a great kind of 'so what?' I had to think before publicly revealing my banana peelin' moment on here before but I think it's so true that we just have to get over them. Really enjoyed this post, Clare.

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    1. And I am so glad you decided to share your moment with us Clare! Thanks so much for your comment!

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  16. I enjoy your books, Kelly, especially "Crafty Chloe"! This was a great post, never heard of "verbal diarrhea" before! Good one.

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    1. Crafty Chloe is a wonderful book! I need to add it to our collection here at home. =) Thanks so much for your comment Tina!

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  17. Being able to laugh at ourselves is a great thing! LOL :D

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  18. This BP moment sounds like a great idea for another book! Look forward to reading ZIL!

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    1. You will really enjoy it Juile! Thanks for your comment!

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  19. Oh my goodness! What a story! Thank you for sharing. I love the so what advice - you're right we shouldn't take ourselves so seriously! :)

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  20. Loved the post, Kelly! It is so hard to believe that we're all human and make mistakes. And that's okay! :)

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  21. Hysterical, Kelly! Loved this- and yes we need to laugh at ourselves!

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