Sunday, February 25, 2007



Nitwittery- The process or act of being a nitwit. Especially prevalent condition among writers. Touloose gives a visual demonstration of the principal.

S*** happens.
You go into a diatribe against certain books and find out the person you are talking to writes in that genre.
You send out an e-query -- realize you misspelled the agent's name -- resend another this time misspelling your own name and the agent's in an entirely different way.
All of us have these stellar moments in our lives.



12:30 pm and 81 degrees.
My greatest single nitwittery happened at my very first writers' conference on Maui. I met my sister there and we shared a room. I was nervous, excited, and loud.
But not as loud as my sister. She shrieked. She laughed. She howled. Not usually a problem but it happened to be 5 am. There was a rapid insistent pounding on our hotel room door. My sister fled to the bathroom abandoning me. I answered to reveal our bleary eyed pissed neighbor.
"Could you both keep it down? We're trying to sleep here!" The voice is not amused.
Some people have no sense of humor.
"Uh sorry."
We muffled our giggles each time we passed our neighbor in the hallway
Embarrassing yes, but not the end of the world.
Until my first scheduled consultation with a real live agent from New York City.
You guessed it.
It was the woman who rapped on our door. Our neighbor. Her eyes narrowed and hardened.
My mouth opened and closed but nothing came out. When I regained my speech, I blathered, I stuttered.
"Uh. Gee. Uh sorry."
I think I pitched. I am not sure.
I do not remember.
Needless to say, the agent was not interested in my premise, in my writing or anything else I had to say including my partial. I sent it to her anyway 6 months later hoping she would forget.
I scrawled on the outside of the envelope: "Met in Maui: Requested Material."
Maybe I should have written: "Disturbed your sleep and gave you a migraine the size of a tractor-trailer in Maui." "Neighbors from hell in Maui." or even "Look, I-can't-help-it-if-my-sister-is-loud-I-just-answered-the-door- but-look-at-my-pages-anyway: Maui."
It happens to all of us.
What is yours?


M. G. Tarquini said...

What's mine?

No way I'll tell. I'm still looking for representation!

LadyBronco said...

Mine would be one of the few times I was gossiping about a co-worker. I finish my long diatribe, and lo and behold, I turn around and she heard the whole thing as she stood there.

Can we say ouch?

Lisa, Amy, Hannah & Lynne said...

Ha! That's the best story, Pat. What a delicious slice of humble pie. Someday when I go to Maui or you come to Boston, I'll share.


Maprilynne said...

The coupe de gras would be if she ended up being your agent!

Still a hilarious story. I'm so glad to see you've both made your deadline and managed to keep your sense of humor! Yea Pat!

I think the closest I come is that when I sent my agent my MS I told her it was an exclusive (Duh) Six months later after not hearing anything I followed up and still heard nothing. Wrote it off as a rejection. Four months after that she e-mailed me to ask if it was still available and I had to spill the beans that not only had I sent it to other agents (she admitted I had good cause) but it was currently being reviewed by her co-worker. Oops.

But all's well and all that jazz.:)


becky said...

When does a day go by that I DON'T commit nit-wittery?

Hmm, there was the time I chased the dog around the house, squealing like a pig (me, not the dog), for several minutes before I remembered the landscaper was outside! I had just run by open windows for no apparent reason (to him) while squealing.

ChumleyK said...

I talk faster than I write. Since I teach, this causes problems, because I try to say one thing and write another...and I get all jumbled up. I make mistakes up on the board on a daily basis, and my students have to correct me.

I used to get really embarassed since I'm supposed to be teaching them to do math CORRECTLY (Not 2+3=6), but none of them seem to hold it against me.

Kim Stagliano said...

I told a young, rising star agent that he wiggled so much during his presentation at a Conference it distracted from listening to him, and then I went into Autism Mother mode and recommended a Disc O Sit therapy cushion that allows for active sitting. Probably should have kept my mouth shut, but he'd rejected my MS and I had no plans to requery and his wiggling and wriggling and constant movement was pretty distracting. NOT as nitwitty as the poor soul who was in the elevator with the two of us (young agent and I) and asked him "Uh, so how's the book market?" Even I cringed on that one! Hey, Pat, nice T-shirt! Your story takes the cake and plate too. And a happy ending!

writtenwyrdd said...

I'll never confess to any of my many moments of being caught with my pants down...metaphorically speaking. Really. Just a metaphore....

I am so glad the copyedit is done. Focusing like that drives me bonkers.

By the way, you could submit that adorable cat photo here:

Kimber An said...

Oh, yes, nitwittery, whattaya gonna do? Apologize profusely, make amends, then back away slowly and hope the person cools off and finds the funny in it all.

Congrats on the copyediting!

Heidi the Hick said...

I love that T shirt!

Sean Ferrell said...

The one that stands out for me is the time I found a stain on the countertop at work. I licked my thumb and rubbed it, but it wouldn't disappear. So I re-licked, and re-rubbed. Re-re-licked. Re-re-rubbed. Still not disappearing. Then I realized I was licking my left thumb, and rubbing with my right. And my coworker was watching me.

Cozytailmom said...

No nitwit stories in regards to writing... yet.
I received an annoying email from my boss and I attached a scathing message intending to forward it to a friend. Instead I hit reply and sent the message (smite and all) back to my boss. Strangley enough, I didn't get fired and he was nicer to me after that. Weird...

writtenwyrdd said...

Pat! Miss Snark linked to this today! LOL!

word veri: login. No kidding.

Demon Hunter said...

As you read on my blog previsously, this is how I partook in nitwittery:
My main beta reader read a "final" version of my manuscript and pointed something out to me that I hadn't noticed. I mentioned that one of my character's was deceased in one chapter, but in the very next chapter, he was eating dinner with someone. Needless to say, I could explain this (ahem). I told my beta reader that maybe he was very, VERY, hungry, and that he came back for dinner?? In any case, of course that had to be changed immediately. I was ecstatic that this was pointed out to me before I sent my baby out into the world!

Joyce said...

Great story, Pat!

btw, I have that same t-shirt.

ORION said...

I am not worthy! Linked! Miss Snark! Words almost fail me. Almost.
Kim S is responsible for sending me the wonderful T shirt! Thanks again Kim!
Sean I sputtered coffee out on that one. So did my husband reading over my shoulder!

Kara Lennox said...

Love the T-shirt, love the kitty, love your embarrassing moment. I've had many (one involving posting something on a forum instead of private e-mailing it to a friend--ouch.) But my most recent was when I decided to introduce myself to BIG NAME AGENT when I saw him standing around in a hotel lobby. He had read a couple of submissions from me and was very kind and encouraging in his rejections. I was just going to thank him for the encouragement, and all the sudden I just started babbling like a crazed stalker. I don't even remember what I said, just that he started backing away from me and did everything but hold his fingers up in a cross to ward himself. Two witnesses told me I was both frightening and pathetic.

Kate Thornton said...

Nice tee shirt!!!

Anissa said...

As someone who feels like I have daily slap-myself-upside-the-head Doh! moments, I should have something to add. Unfortunately my brain is unfunctioning this morning. Illness reigns in my home at present and sleep appears to be a pipedream. Maybe in a couple hours I'll remember...

Kim Stagliano said...

You can go to and search "novel" you'll find it Pat's t-shirt. Happy Shopping!

adrienne said...

Oh man Pat, that's too funny! And so darn predictable in a sadistic sort of way. I don't actually have any such stories within the writing profession, yet, but there have been a few times when as an actor I have met someone and thought I am just all that, expressing some strong opinions I have on theatre as an art form et etc, and it turns out that the person I am talking to is someone way important in the business.

Michelle Zink said...


But the best part is the part where you get a kick-ass agent and sell your book for gobs of money!


Long live Nitwittery!

ORION said...

Yeah I am kind of tempted to drop a note to her some time but Yanno Karma is Karma.
What goes around comes around.

ORION said...

And nitwittery is the gift that keeps on giving.

Manic Mom said...

Very glad to have found your blog through Miss Snark. I had read about your novel in PM and am very excited to read it when it debuts!


Love your Maui agent story!

Sam said...

Nit Wits 'R Us.

I once got a request for a full from an agent. I was so excited, I didn't stop to ask her if it was just for the first book, or the whole series. Since I'd mentioned the series in the query, I just assumed it was for the whole shebang. (Never Assume, lol)
Well, I printed it up and sent off a refrigerator sized box (I can't even tell you how many pages it was - SO embarassing to think of it...)
The agent never wrote me back. She probably fainted when the box arrived and left it in the middle of her office to use as an extra table. I was too embarrassed to ask for news after the first three months went by and I realized the extent of my gaff.
(Hiding under the rug and whimpering, lol)

Therese said...

Oh, I have to get me one of those shirts! (Thanks, Kim, for the order info!)

Wendy Roberts said...

"And nitwittery is the gift that keeps on giving."

Now THAT would make a great t-shirt LOL!

Robin L. said...

I love this story!! The upside, is that when someone asks you what your most embarrassing moment is, you've got one handy. ;)

BTW - thank you for the post on my blog! I've been following yours for a little while now. ;) Grammar girl (a favorite podcast of mine) just covered the lie/lay issue and has a handy dandy table to sort it all out. I'll link you in case you want to check it out:

Anonymous said...

I just stopped by to say I adore your cover, and that your book sounds wonderful. I can't wait to read it - congratulations on your success!

Tish Cohen (who is too lazy to get a blogger identity)

ORION said...

Thanks guys. I have been busy being a nitwit by making stupid comments on other blogs.
Today was respite -- now I'm back to work.

ORION said...

Hey Tish!
Thanks for stopping by!
Everybody make sure you buy Tish's book

Mia King said...

Pat, I love the shirt. Pretty much anybody who tells me not to write about them gets a guaranteed slot in my next book. So nice to put a face to the name ...

And what would life be like without nitwittery? Great post!

Jen said...

Mine isn't too bad. I entered my first writing contest. I sent them my first 25 pages. I neglected to notice the genre.
At least I hit the general area, but I certainly didn't read the big, bold letters on the contest info.
I expected it to be bounced back with a polite "Enter when you know what you're doing" note.
Nope. Five judges faithfully critiqued and slaughtered my first manuscript. LOL.
That wasn't exactly how I wanted to get my name out there.