I haven't spoken of my Sponge Bob ward since I was hauled in by the proper authorities and told to quit leaking episode plot lines to the media. In other words, one of my fellow cast members recommended me to the censorship committee, and because I didn't want to lose my endorsements, I complied and conformed.
This incident was only the first in a series of clues that in Utah the trees talk and the rocks whisper. In Hawaii they talk and whisper too, but not behind your back or to the proper authorities. Hawaii is a hang-loose and shaka-braddah state, but it's also an aggressive state. People in Hawaii say what they need to say. To your face.
Utah is an aggressive state too, especially when there are referees or steering wheels nearby, but Utah is aggressive with a more passive flair. People say what they need to say, but they say it in order to lead you to believe that what they said was what they meant.
You get me?
For instance, if someone drops by the orange stand and says, "I'll take a box fer sure, but I just need to run to the bank first and get some cash," what they really mean is, "See ya later, sucker!" Or if my daughter texts a friend to hang out and the friend texts back saying, "Sure, I'll call you when I get home," what she really means is, "I have no intention of hanging out with you tonight."
But I digress. This post is not about me giving a cultural awareness lesson, this post is about me breaking my Sponge Bob silence because last weekend my Sponge Bob world and my writer's conference world collided when heard a familiar name over and over at the LDS Storymakers Conference.
Say that five times fast and you'll know how I felt at the conference.
Brandon Sanderson is the author of the Alcatraz series (among other things) and apparently is not only popular enough to have his own Wikipedia entry, but also to have his name passed around and around in sci-fi circles.
Every time I heard his name my hand shot up or my elbow jabbed my neighbor, "Oooh, oooh, oooh," I'd say, "I can throw a stone at Brandon Sanderson's house from my front lawn," or "I can toilet paper Brandon Sanderson's house without even leaving my driveway."
I wasn't trying to be annoying, I was just trying to let people know that I could make Brandon Sanderson's life miserable if I wanted to. That's how close we are in proximity.
When others at the Storymakers Conference found out that Brandon was one of the cast members of my Sponge Bob ward, they either sat in stupor, or asked me if he was active.
"I'm not tight enough with him to know his exercise routine," I shrugged.
"No, I mean, does he attend church regularly?"
"Oh, yes," I said, "and sometimes speaks in Sacrament, plus teaches Gospel Doctrine AND Priesthood all in the same day. We Sponge Bobbers call it the wham-bam-grand-slam."
And can I just add that when Brandon Sanderson speaks in sacrament, or bears his testimony, he grips either side of the pulpit and adjusts his glasses with a particular conviction the likes of which you only see in successful science fiction novelists who understand there is no conflict between science and religion, let alone science fiction and religion.
It's enough to keep even my hub awake. And prompt me to take feverish notes.
My favorite was when he taught us how to be the hero in our own lives. I have it all scribbled down on a stray program, or index card, or on the back of a fireside flier somewhere. (Hopefully I find it before I have to do anything heroic.)
That being said, you can understand why my ears perked up when the keynote speaker at the conference, Dave Wolverton, (who also has his own Wikipedia entry) told a story about the time Brandon Sanderson came to him for advice on how to get published. Wolverton outlined for him a specific no-fail, five-step process (which, you're welcome, I am happy to share):
1. Blow off work.
2. Max out credit card.
3. Fly to Florida to attend Nebula Awards.
4. Go to bar where all sci-fi agents hang out.
5. Order Sprite, straight up, on the rocks and hold breath to avoid second-hand smoke inhalation.
It works. You should try it. Brandon found his agent, paid off his credit card and lived happily ever after (within a stone's throw of The Crash Test Dummy).
When I asked Brandon for permission to share his success story he said:
"I don't mind . . . though Wolverton sent me to New York not
Florida. But that was his advice, and I DID (while nervously drinking a
Sprite) find an editor in the hotel bar during the Nebula awards." ;)
Florida/New York, agent/editor, tomayto/tomahto . . . these little things are tit for tat, but can I just say how relieved I am that Brandon clarified the bar as a hotel bar. Bar is just such a broad word, am I right or am I right? I wasn't sure I would be able to judge him correctly when I saw him in the halls at church without knowing whether he was sipping Sprite in a nightclub or a discotheque or a salsa bar or a strip club or a sports bar or a biker bar?
You get me?
A hotel bar is at least respectable, which just goes to show that details really do make or break a story.
You can consider that my writing conference tip of the day.
(btw, I picked up an Alcatraz book at the library and I think it's way cute. Swirl, add it to your bookclub4boys list, ASAP! I bet I can get you autographed Sprite cans for all your club members.)
P.S. I can't wait until I have my own Wikipedia entry.