Thursday, October 21, 2010

Networking

Writing is basically a solitary habit. When you actually sit down to pound it out, there is no one between you and your computer. But life itself is the food and creative energy that drives our thoughts and emotions. Networking is one of the great gifts given to writers to help them in their quest for the written word.

That's why, when my friend Dennis Chall, contacted me to participate in a day of literary conversation at Florida Atlantic University, I agreed to come and looked forward to it. It was not a time to sell my books but to talk to students who were interested in writing and wanted to learn more about publishing. It was a beautiful day, cool and breezy and we were situated outside in a shady patio area with tables and chairs. College students wandered through and drafted bits of poetry and quotes on chart tablets placed strategically around the tables. I had set up my books, my reviews, some blurbs from my blog and business cards.

Before long I had a table mate. Dr. Sean Kenniff joined me at the table and set up his books, and various advertising items also. Hence the beginning of a great networking experience. Sean has had a very interesting life. First of all, he was one of the people on the first season of Survivor. As a matter of fact, I think he was voted off the island first.

I did not watch Survivor but I knew of Sean from watching TV. As a doctor, he did a health segment on one of the major TV stations for a while. Good looking, affable, and personable, he was quite popular and did a great job on the health segments. As with all good things however, he was written out of the time slot. The network no longer wished to have a health segment. What a shame.

He was devastated by the loss of the program. His personal life suffered in addition. He needed new direction. So, as he said, "I went to live with the cows."
Hence, his new book, "Etre the Cow." It's a parable about life through the life of cows and the whole thought intrigued me. He was going through a personal and professional crisis and poured all his feelings out into this cow story. Well, anyway it is my next read, although it is not for the squeamish. (Think about what happens to cows at the end and you will get my drift.)

His book was recommended by Jane Goodall and in an unusual twist, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The story behind the latter recommendation is a hoot, told by Sean. He had been trying to get in touch with Desmond Tutu for quite some time and had not been able to connect. So, one day, one of his friends was at a sports event and called Sean, telling him that he was sitting right near Desmond Tutu at the game in Miami. Sean grabbed a copy of his book, sped to Miami, and got to the game, only to be turned away without a ticket. He was not going to give up. He went around to the back and somehow found a way in. He was stopped by some guards but managed to get the book to Desmond Tutu finally. Wow! What perseverance!

So, in addition to all this, he is a neurologist, and he actually works with veterans right now. His story was so interesting that I never once thought of asking him why I have these frickin' headaches all the time.

So we traded books and I will be reading "Etre" this weekend. Not sure if he will read "Wrinkles, Waistlines and Wet Pants" but perhaps....My thoughts don't go quite as deep as his do!

The story behind the stories is fascinating to me. I always like author bios to determine why they write what they do. I think we are going to be seeing more of Dr. Sean Kenniff.

2 comments:

Sharon said...

Always great to make new friends. How did your sales go?

Matt said...

What a strange connection. I always thought he seemed like a bit of an airhead on tv. Wondered what he'd really be like as a doctor. Glad you made a new friend.