Thursday, June 19, 2008

About Being a Writer

One of the best parts about being a writer is having the opportunity to discover new places like the quaint and historic town of Jefferson, TX. But it’s not the cobblestone streets, antique shops and charming bed and breakfasts like the fantastic McKay House ( that makes Jefferson so great. It’s the people. If southern hospitality was a fast food, then the citizens of this town, super sized it. They smile and joke while they offer you assistance, and you can feel their warmth like a quilted blanket on a cold winter’s day.

I was there for a book signing at Beauty and The Book, the world’s only beauty shop and bookstore. Kathy Patrick created this little literary oasis because she wanted the opportunity to enjoy her two great loves in life; reading and doing hair. Someone had given Kathy my book while she was promoting her book, The Pulpwood Queen’s Tiara-Wearing, Book-Sharing Guide to Life. Kathy wrote to me and said she loved The Chicken Dance and asked if I’d consider going up to Jefferson to meet her book club. I checked out her website and was intrigued, and decided it sounded like a great idea.

My sister Kay was my co-pilot on this journey, and as we pulled into the driveway of Beauty and the Book, we were greeted by a woman with hair so blonde and beautiful, she would make Charlene Tilton jealous. She was wearing a black t-shirt with the words, “Got Wood?” written on the front in pink letters. (I’m wearing one just like hers as I type this.)

I recognized Kathy from her book cover and knew immediately that I loved her, and I just wanted to hug and squeeze her to make sure that she was real. But I felt timid like a dog and only shook her hand.

“I’m so glad you could make it,” she told me. “I’ve organized a chicken and egg themed potluck dinner for tonight in honor of your book.”

Although I draw the line at eating a chicken omelet, eggs and chicken separately are my two favorite foods. I felt really excited like I had won $15 on one of those little scratch off lottery tickets, and then felt a little ashamed that I was so excited.

So I put my head down and walked quietly into the world’s only beauty shop and bookstore. I looked around and noticed stacks of books in every corner and on every surface of the room. Some of the stacks had shampoo bottles on them, and others were leaning against hair dryers. And in one of the corners hung a leopard skin jacket covered in sequin and glitter.

“So this is what a beauty shop and book store looks like,” I said. “I don’t know why but I thought it would be different.”

Moments later, the rest of the book club showed up, all of them carrying some sort of chicken or egg themed dish. They were all women, and most of them were wearing pink t-shirts and tiaras, and some sort of accessory in a leopard print, like a purse or pair of flip-flops. I started thinking to myself, What is going on?

But then later that night while we were sitting in a circle, some of us on the seats of hair dryers, Kathy explained the history of the Pulpwood Queens to me.

“I wanted a place where we could talk about books, and just be ourselves,” Kathy said. “So we all wear tiaras, pink t-shirts and some sort of leopard skin accessory. That way everyone feels safe and is allowed to speak freely.”

I began to feel relaxed, and leaned back on the seat of the hair dryer. I watched the women laugh and share stories of their life, and felt so lucky to be a part of their evening.

This, I thought, is what I love about being a writer.