Candy and I met through sword fighting. Specifically when her kid and my kid were using scissors to do some sword fighting in art class. We met at the fallout. She apologized for her kid getting my kid into trouble. I told her my kid was very excited about the prospect of more trouble, especially if her kid was going to be involved.
When I found out she was a writer, I sent some of my stuff. She’d dutifully read them and send them back with comments. She’d tell me if they made sense or not. What she liked. Who she didn’t like. Soon this thing started happening. I can’t really describe it, but the act of sharing the scenes and characters with Candy made them more real somehow. They weren’t just in my head anymore. She knew these people. They were in our life; we talked about them like friends. The cat—a fat, no-nonsense bastard—became this mascot of sorts. The main love interest, Carl, grew into this mixture of Jordan Catalano, Mr. Darcy, and Jim Halpert. Both of us had schoolgirl crushes on him. In a word, he was…dreamy. It was hilarious, and we loved every minute of it.
Sometime that spring, there was a writing conference being held about two hours away. A weekend of writing and no scissor-sword fighting? The idea was so rich, it was sinful. We left as soon as we could.
On the drive, we talked about Carl and how cute he was and how sad we were because he wasn’t a real person. We lamented about how we tried to find him in crowds, but it was useless and disappointing because, of course, we never saw him. He wasn’t real. He should have been, but this cruel world doesn’t always give us what we want. It was so much fun being fourteen again.
After lunch the next day, we went to the workshop in the large auditorium. Both of us were full to bursting with pseudo-teenaged angst when we sat down. Then the instructor walked in.
It was Carl.
We both gasped. I’m not sure how we resisted breaking into fits of giggles. It was rough keeping that shit together. I know we couldn’t look at each other for quite some time.
Our Carl, whom we’d been chasing down imaginary streets for months, was right there in front of us. Teaching the afternoon workshop. I have no memory of what it was about.
The worst part was that he wasn’t just a writing instructor; he was also an agent. I didn’t know the guy, and now chances were slim that I ever would because how was I going to talk to him like a normal adult person when I’d just spent the past eight months crushing on his made-up doppelganger?
It was weird and embarrassing, and it probably weighted my decision to self-publish by about two percent. But honestly, it was also kind of wonderful. That guy will always be Carl to me. It delights me that he’s out there, and part of me can’t believe I got to meet him. What are the odds?
About Tiffany Pitts
Tiffany grew up in the Seattle area in a time when the Super Sonics were huge and Starbucks was just a store at the end of the Market. Tragedy stuck early in her life as her family moved to New Jersey mere months before Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet” album hit record stores. It took nearly a decade to wean herself off the hairspray. But Seattle called her back, so she went; eventually earning a degree in Botany (pronounced “Bar tending”) at the University of Washington.
She made one more valiant attempt to leave the PNW after college by travelling around the country doing not much of value and making very stupid decisions. She is thankful every day that the internet was not a huge deal in those years. Then Seattle called again so she picked up and moved home where she spent many years being a scientist of middling talent in several labs that she absolutely did not blow up—except for that one time and everyone agreed we wouldn’t talk about that any more.
Now she divides her time between writing, kids, dogs, a foodie hubbs and crafty stuff that usually involves dirt.