Writers’ Panel

Smokers get on my nerves. They insist on imposing their need on others. They can’t let go, even when it is too cold outside to smoke. You would think they would give up for a few hours. Not so. They must find a way to indulge their need and make a big noise about it. Why can’t they keep their pain to themselves? Nicotine is a nasty habit that grabs you by the throat, literally. Just get a grip, I say. They start pacing about trying to decide whether to brave the freezing temperature just for a “fix.” They are a far calmer lot come spring. I try to stay away from these nervous types as much as I can. They unfortunately appear from time to time at public events.

This is the kind of behavior I witnessed at a local writers’ panel in the county library. I welcomed the opportunity to hear from my fellow authors and share ideas. Most of us are loners who don’t get out much. I welcomed the opportunity. However, there is always something, as the old saying goes. One attendee was useless in this regard. He spent most of the limited time freaking out about finding a legal place to smoke. The building, of course, did not allow it even in the lobby or hallways—as it should be. I felt like shoving him out the window. It didn’t matter that icicles hung from the nearby trees. I would even give him my coat and wool neck scarf. He just kept at his bitching. Finally, he let an unused cigarette sit hanging from his lip as an antidote. It was revolting. I could write a story about it. Ha!

The smokers annoying antics bothered others as well. Finally, one exasperated writer suggested he chew gum. He pulled a pack from his pants pocket. The smoker grabbed it and immediately started to calm down as he chewed. Finally, he would be able to participate in the day’s events. We all clapped and nodded to the clever writer. Maybe he had been a smoker at one time. Whatever the case, he was our savior now. I had been too passive to help.

Now I could pay attention to the presentations and participate in the panel discussions through the day. A crisis had been averted. Some of us read from our journals while others passed around copies of stories. There were topics of mutual interest. We talked about the difficulty of getting published and how rewarding it is when it happens. It was a fruitful session at which I learned a great deal about self-publishing. You never want your work to go unread. Thank you, Amazon, for creating the Kindle Store.