Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pinch me

You know, I was having a perfectly normal day yesterday. Got the girls up, dressed, and fed. Drove everyone to their destinations. Went to the grocery store.

I am still in the habit of checking my Blackberry every 20 seconds for emails, even though the reason I needed to do so - my job with a local, regional magazine - no longer exists. Still, blog comments are forwarded to me as emails, and I will freely admit to pretty much freebasing my emotional highs off every compliment that y'all leave here. You're like my own personal brand of heroin. 

So, I think I was carrying groceries into the house when I checked for mail, and there was a message on the new gmail account I have set up for just the blog. It was from the Program Director of a local quilt guild, who had read my work in Quilter's Home, found the blog, and wanted to know what my fees were for lectures/presentations and whether I might be available in the next year.


After I picked my jaw up off the floor, slowed my heartbeat to reasonable levels, and changed my underwear, I immediately called my husband, who of course did not answer, forcing me to leave a long and slightly hysterical message.

Now, doing lectures/presentations (I think for what I do, they should be called "routines") has always been a part of The Big Plan, a plan which includes publishing a book in the next two years. But I always assumed that hitting the road wouldn't happen without the book, and the book won't happen until I have more published work under my belt. As odd as I am about certain social situations, I actually love public speaking, and think that I would be really good at taking this show on the road, so to speak.

But never in a million, bajillion years did I think that someone would jump the gun on me and ask me to speak NOW.

I had no idea what to say, and, honestly, no idea what sort of presentation she was expecting I might be prepared to do, so I immediately contacted Jake Finch, one of my editors at Quilter's Home. She has tons of experience in this arena, being a lecturer/teacher herself, and so I knew she would give me good advice. About two minutes after the email went through, I got a message back: I'm calling you in 5 minutes.

Jake seemed very excited and at the same time not the least bit surprised that someone would want me to do this. She told me I need to have several presentations for a guild to choose from, at least 3, and that there must be a visual element to it. I can't just stand up there and say funny stuff for an hour (oh, and that's another thing - AN HOUR?). And even though some people do slide shows, she said having tangible items, even if they aren't all quilts, was vital, and that there should be at least 20 things. TWENTY. I don't think I've even made twenty things yet, and the next three things on my slate are going to be given away. She also had a lot of good advice about contracts and payment and mileage, and that I should absolutely NOT censor myself except for maybe not saying "fuck" so much. Or, like, at all.

I think Jake truly thought I should come up with three presentation possibilities immediately and go ahead and book my date with the guild for 2011 so I'd have time to prepare, but I just couldn't do that. Even given a year to get ready, it just seemed dishonest to go, "My fee is $300, plus mileage. I require 3 bottles of San Pellegrino mineral water, chilled to EXACTLY 38.6 degrees, placed by the podium on a stool that has been carved from the bones of Moroccan camel herders AND EVERYTHING SHOULD BE PAINTED WHITE AND NO RED M&MS!"

So I wrote the nice lady back, and said that I was floored and flattered by her request, but could not book a date until I was more prepared. I also asked if they would care to be my guinea pig audience for my first presentation, free of charge.

So, now that I've gotten some advice from an expert lecturer, I need some advice from an expert audience: you. Would you be interested in some sort of Bitchy Stitcher-style presentation at your quilt guild? Do you think such a presentation has to be accompanied by several quilts and or other items? What do you think makes a good lecture? What do you hate about lectures that you think I should never, ever do? Keep in mind that I have absolutely nothing to teach anyone about quilting. Okay, I could teach someone who has never touched a sewing machine a lot about quilting, but guilds aren't full of neophytes. Anything I would do would be about humor and fun, and would not be instructive (unless you want to learn how to come up with really creative obscenities).  Would you want to listen to someone for an hour who wasn't teaching you anything?

As always, I am indebted to you all for your help and support.


Nancy said...

OMG...HOW EXCITING... I would book you in a nano-second...
ok. real life..
I don't mind listening to a lecture without props. BUT...I do have an idea? Can I email you privately?

NurseRatchknit said...

Yes, yes, yes! If you are including instructions on creative new obscenities, I'l bring the red-free M&Ms!

Nancy said...

OH OH..I forgot.
I linked to you on my blog this am.

Leah Day said...

Hey Meg,

I totally understand your current "deer in the headlights" state. I went through it myself back in Jan.

Isn't it wonderful the power these little bloggie things have?

As for what the average quilter wants from a lecture:

- Don't freak out about having a million things to show.

I recently attended a lecture where over 200 quilts were shown and it was painfully boring.

Since you're just starting out, bring only 10 quilts and yes, bring your messed up, ugly beginner ones. Those will be the funniest and the easiest to tell stories about.

- Be entertaining. Of course this can't be hard for you since your fucking hilarious without trying.

Tell stories that always get quilters, or women, laughing and no one will care that they're not learning anything. They're being entertained and that's what counts.

Feel free to email me if you need to!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Diana said...

Very cool indeed! Not sure what this lady is looking for from you. Perhaps you should ASK her what they expect. In the mean time, make some things! If I am at guild and there is a speaker, I expect to see some quilts. Yes, we all enjoy lots of funny stories but there should be some "show and tell" with it. My opinion only, of course. Good luck!

annettesquilts said...

Too bad you fixed your inside out panel skirt. That could have been one of the twenty items.

Anne said...

I think you should revisit your quilting dictionary and expand that out to 30-45 minutes. Bring examples (I say 'bring' like you're coming to visit me!) of how to do all things, uh, differently. You've got good stuff, don't panic.

I know a guild you can practice on.... :)

Andrea R said...

I'm just commenting so you get your fix. ;)

Go for the speaking engagement. Even if you just stand up there & ramble, it'd be awesome.

Kat said...

I say you do a reenactment of your performance art. Build a bridge as a prop.

Seriously, my favorite talks are ones who give me in, I'm not the only one who massively screws up projects for stupid stupid reasons. I'm also a big fan of the ones that remind me how cool it is to be a chick, even if the chick next to me smells a little like old lady. Or a lot like old lady. Mistakes and humanity bring about a sense of solidarity, especially when they're funny...I have faith that you could bring the world together with your humor if you wanted to. :-) Well ok, maybe not those assholes in the middle east, but they just don't laugh. Or quilt. Maybe that's the issue.

I digress.

Do the talk. You'll rock it. You'll be the world's first stand up quiltermedian. Or quiltermedienne if you're proper.

crowefan0517 said...

How awesome! You should definitely do this. I wouldn't worry so much about tangible objects. Maybe just a quilt or two. Do you have a worst quilt ever? That could start off some laughs. But really, I enjoy your blog so much that I know I would be thrilled to just listen to you ramble for an hour. Everyone needs some laughter in their lives:) I went to a lecture/show once that had two women that sung funny quilting songs. Didn't learn a thing, but laughed so hard & it's a lecture I won't forget.

-debby, chester ny

kheli said...

This is AWESOME! Almost makes up for the job where they wouldn't send your paycheck.

You will be phenomenal! One thing about quilters, (you already know this) we love to laugh and have a good time and we are so supportive of each other! Congrats, you deserve it!

HRH Gigi said...

I agree with Kat - you will rock. And the world needs more quiltermediennes. I'm picturing big things here. I can't wait to see you in Long Beach or Paducah or some such place.

Anonymous said...

we are into FUN in my guild. a couple projects and lots of fun would be great. where do you live?????

JoAn in northern indiana

Megan said...

For those that are wondering - I live in Maryland.

soggybottomflats said...

Oh wow Megan, what an opportunity for you to shine.

I used to belong to a guild but not anymore. I get tired of looking at masterpieces and would love a little humor. If I were going to listen to another guild lecture, I would rather see examples of why you shouldn't use $1.00 a yard fabric. Or how about the worst experience you have ever had visiting a quilt shop?

You are innately hilarious, you could talk about your favorite quilt tools and have the ladies rolling.

I think I would even buy a video of you in your sewing room, glass of wine in one hand and the iron in another...

Good luck, hope to see you soon in a guild near me, Elaine

Sherri said...

You will do an awesome job, you are very funny, I know that some of the "older" ladies may not approve of your language, which by the way is exactly how I talk at times :), but maybe there aren't any "older"ladies there, and if they are you can let them know ahead of time that they need to bring earplugs!!! Hey, that is a good idea, you could take them and have them for sale!! LOL!! Don't forget to take your T-shirts to sell!!!

The Calico Cat said...

Which "local" guild. (I am going to a local show - on Riva road in the capital in June...) That is a bit for for me to join - but I'd contemplate visiting it for a "non-preachy" talk...

(I'd actually prefer not to hear about color theory, etc.)

Peggi said...

This is a great idea! You will be a breath of fresh air, believe me.

My first thought is you could incorporate a lot of your "tutorials" into your lecture, ESPECIALLY the Quilt Backing tutorial, which had me in tears for a few hours and STILL makes me howl. (a "spherical" quilt - lmao!)

Wendy_MT said...

TOTALLY COOL!! Good for you!! If I lived anywhere near the state of Maryland, I would want to attend your presentation in a flash. However, since I live in Montana, right now the internet is as close as I can get to your humorous intellect :)

Listening to you talk about your everyday experience with editors, writers and "personalities" would be a kick. Through in some of your attempts at fitting in your quilting into the mix would be cool.

Can't wait to see what you come up with ... it'll be awesome!

Cherie said...

My favorite programs are the ones that make me laugh so you fit the bill :) I wholeheartedly agree with Jake about having tangible things. In your case, if you'd kept your daughter's skirt with the piece showing wrong side out, it would be a perfect item. Perhaps one of your topics could be centered around quilting tools. I'm not in your league when it comes to humor but I can imagine a riff on the shear number of quilting implements could be hilarious in your hands.....and the bonus is the implements can double as the visuals! How about another presentation about fabrics and what were they thinking? You could have a collection of ugly, unusual or just plain glitzy fabrics and discuss not-so-perfect uses. (Oh, my word for verification is "glited" sounds like it should be a real word)

P. said...

Well, that is just the coolest thing ever! I wish I lived closer so I could come see you!

Anonymous said...

At first I was saddened to hear that you would no longer be connected to Quilter's Home mag. But then your next news item cheered me up.
I've never been to a quilt lecture, but if in person, you're like your blog, you will WOW them. Good luck and I wish you well. Hopefully in the future I'll get to see one of your lectures.

Megan said...

No, no, no! I am still with Quilter's Home! I had a job as assistant editor of a local magazine, but that ended a couple months ago - that's what I was referring to!!!

sfaber9999 said...

You go girl!!
And when you have your own national TV show I can tell everyone I was reading your blog from waaaay back!!

Kathy said...

YES, YES, YES, I would love to listen to you for an hour or more. As for having something tangible, you can take things, like if you talking about the dictionary, have funny posters to illustrate with....just do it! I'm so excited for you I just about peed my pants! you go girl!

Oh and how in the hell did you get "trouser" as a word verification! LOL

Beth said...

Wouldn't be fun to troll thrift stores for horrible home made items and use *those* in your talk?!?

Sew Here We Are said...

Well, well, well...I can say I knew you when, read you when you blogged..whatever! WHOOHOOOO!! Congrats Megan :-) I don't belong to a guild, but would risk being arrested to crash one you were presenting at. A book you say...can't wait. You are a breath of fresh funny, and everyone needs to get a wiff. Were it me I would like a lot of humor and a little bit show and tell. Just go back over your past blogs all the material you need is there. Your style of writing and humor had me at hello and have had me coming back!! Go for it!!

Tina in UK said...

Get them to paint all the M&Ms white!

Gene Black said...

I think you need some props. I would listen without them, but I know people are different and some would want something to see. (Hey, quilting is a visual art)

I agree about showing the "bad ones" too. (well maybe only one, and only if YOU can feel comfortable doing it)

I know that OHMYFREAKINGOD feeling. I was contacted for something that I can't talk about yet. ARRRRGH I so wanna shout it! However, My first answer was "are you kidding? ME?" or something like that. I felt totally unprepared and lacking the time to do it. Guess what? I got it in ahead of schedule. YOU can do this. I think doing the first one free - as a learning experience - is fine. Just be sure that you have it understood that it is a once in a lifetime. Crap, now I am writing a book to you. LOL.

Go for it Sweetheart. If you fall, you can always get back up and do it again (and maybe NOT fall so hard the next time....heck you might even fly!)

Arlene said...

Go for it, and know that 99.9% of your audience were not invited to speak. We will be there to hear what you have to say, to see what you have to show, and to go forth and create. So what if you aren't making the latest technique easy for the masses to conquer? Maybe you're making us laugh at the thousands of dollars we spend buying fabs on spec so that we can save ourselves driving a half an hour when we need a neutral. Go for it! Quilters love quilters. You will be among friends! : )

Anonymous said...

Deborah says:

Wow! Exciting!

Seems like everyone has already given such great advice. Go for it and just be yourself.

And remember, a bottle of wine and a glass count as props!

juanita said...

Wow! You'll be great! You could start with an expanded Quilter's Glossary, maybe bring some show and tell of what not to do(like the skirt) and finish with some of your hilarious quilting stories liberally sprinkled with obscenities (all the while wearing your quilting logo T-shirt of course). Better get started on that book because your audience will be eager to purchase a copy.

Tina in AZ said...

Hi. I think you should include some of the projects that went wayward - being a novice with a lot of ideas that are bigger than my talent, I love to see how something was planned, went wrong and then how to fix it. I like instruction and projects that can be adapted to the less skilled and explanations that makes sense of ridged instruction. Like quilting for dummies...well, maybe that is not for everyone - better check with your hosts first... With your gift for descriptive and flowery language, you will have no problem being entertaining and informative. This is such good news! Thank you for letting us be a part of it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clearing up the Quilter's Home deal. I was even thinking of cancelling my subscription if you weren't going to be there.

CatQuilter said...

Loads of good ideas already listed for you. Can't really add to them. I am chuckling over just the thought of how some of the prissy butts in my guild would react to you!

Things that have tuned me out - quilt after quilt after quilt of perfection, photographs of sheep in Ireland and quilt Nazis.

I think whatever presentation you compose is sure to be different and lively. Can't wait for my guild to book you!

Wendy Coyne said...

Definately samples, but they don't have to be finished and they don't have to be great works of art. Loads of gossip, and move around. No slide show, so many of us fall asleep through those, even if they are interesting.
Can I have your reject red m&m's :)

Lori said...

Oh how wonderful!! Lots of visual items. Even your mistakes--everyone makes them and you would have lots of company! Things you made "before" and how your taste has changed. Your favorite colors/styles. What is the easiest/hardest for you to do. Oh, I love to hear people speak!

Sarcastic Quilter said...

Okay, I'm giving something away here because while my "big plan" includes me speaking at some point YEARS (and I mean YEARS) down the road, I think you could pull this off just as well.

While speaking of the accomplishments, I think it would be FANTASTIC to show some of the fuck-ups! Seriously, who ever shows the expanding/shrinking 1/4" seam or the bumps in the star block that would not flatten no matter how many times you beat it or forced the needle over it trying to quilt it flat?

Congratulations on your offer. I think you would be a wonderful speaker and I have no doubt you'd enjoy it immensely. Good for you!

ps - remember I said that please. One day, when I'm fulfilling my big plan and need a speaker for my humble weekend retreat, I'll be calling you. -wink-

seriously, congratulations. A well-deserved offer!

Brenda said...

It's all about the entertainment factor for me! I love any kind of quilting humor.

Anonymous said...

Hi Megan

I wish you lived in Australia so I could come to your talk!!! If you are ever down this way I would book you in a heartbeat. And you could even drop the f bomb...we're pretty laid back down

I think your blog rocks. I read it out to my husband just to see him snort coffee out of his nose. VBG


Carrie said...

If you're even half as funny in person as you are here, you'll be great.

Having some experience with doing this sort of thing, the advice you've already gotten is dead-on perfect. If you can make people laugh, then they’re going to enjoy your presentation even if you were talking about picking lint off your sweatpants. I agree that talking about your mistakes and your quilting disasters is as important as showing off your masterpiece quilt ~ probably more so since it makes you human, approachable and oh yeah, just like everybody in your audience. Well, except for the “Miss Perfects” in the group ~ and yes, every Guild has one or more of them.

Don’t worry about not having a bazillion quilts/whatevers to show. A dozen quilts with good stories behind them are better than 100 out-of-this-world quilts that don’t have a history to them. If you can poke fun at yourself ~ and clearly you can do that to hilarious effect ~ then I think they’re going to love you.

Go for it! Jump in! What’s the worst thing that can happen? Worst case scenario, you learn something and you get better the next time. But there’s a reason this woman contacted you, she knows that you’re what her group is looking for. If they wanted serious, humorless, and self-absorbed, they would invite… someone else.

I look forward to your book too ~ will you get busy with that already?

Anonymous said...

i would go listen to you lecture, why do you think you have so many followers??? you are funny, props would prob. be needed, but not too many. most people already know how to quilt, they are there to be entertained. i think you could do that splendly, or however you spell that word!!

kanishk said...

I linked to you on my blog this am.
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