Wednesday, December 21, 2011

why I could never run for president

In my line of work as a literary agent, I attend writers conferences throughout the year. At many of these conferences, they have these things called panels in which experts in the business sit up front facing the audience and answer questions.

Now I’ve participated in a number of these panels, and they always remind me of presidential debates. I’m not sure exactly why. We never really get into any tiffs up there on stage. There’s occasionally a disagreement or two among professionals but for the most part we respect opinions and try not to make each other sound dumb. So maybe it’s the lights? Or the microphones? Or the use of a moderator? Or the fact that there can be 100+ faces staring back at us, expecting us to say something brilliant and inspiring and insightful?

So anyway, this past September I was on an agent panel at ACFW. Now this is the big gathering for Christian fiction with about 600+ in attendance, including new and published authors, big-time editors, publishing house marketing people and more. So I guess you could say of all the agent panels that I participate in over the course of the year, this is the big one. The one that’s most like a presidential debate.

Well this particular year, someone must have slipped something into my drink. Or perhaps a fellow agent paid off another agent to subliminally fill my mind with ridiculous and useless analogies. Because in the middle of the panel, in the middle of answering a question, I somehow found a way to fit the word “cannibal” into my response.

Moderator: What productivity level do you expect from your clients? Is there a number of books per year that you’re looking for from a client?

(Laughter away from the microphone as Agent Steve Laube says he looks for 12 books per year from each author).

Me (in all seriousness): Every client is different. Now if you take a hiatus... If you decide “I’m going to go visit the...uh...cannibal people” or whatever. We don’t like that.

(Tons of laughter. The sound recording fails to capture the many baffled looks I get from my colleagues).

Me: I was reaching! I was really reaching.


It’s pretty safe to say that never in the history of ACFW panels had the word “cannibal” been used without associating it with martyrdom. But I used it! And not only did I use it, but I acknowledged that I used it! And everyone laughed. And I’m pretty sure someone tweeted about it later.

So this is why I could never run for president. Because all of my good ideas will be buried by all of the crazy that comes out of my mouth.

And instead of being the candidate with the great plan for world peace or civil liberty or flat tax, I’d be The Cannibal Candidate (or better yet, Amanable the Cannibal) whose deep dark secrets include eating lots of meat (never free range), researching the Donner party in high school and being momentarily obsessed with PBS’s Northwest Passage specials in 2006/07 (in which cannibalism was an outcome).

Do I have your vote?


  1. You have my vote! The cannibals and "goblin tendencies" were on my list of ACFW highlights! :)

  2. But if you did run, Saturday Night Live writers could just take the day off and copypasta your transcripts!