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Reviewing CCCC 2000: The Extracurricular Drift

by Dona Hickey

Some of the most interesting sessions were those held in hotel dining rooms, local restaurants, exhibit booths, and publisher parties. Disguised as a potted plant and moving sideways, I overheard editors wooing potential authors. Ah, the seductive attention, the laughter, the courtship before the contract! I overheard authors talking about the breakups: one editor leaving his/her authors for the love of the game-movin' on up to another company, or, having been lost in a merger, needing to find her/his own identity elsewhere. I overheard editors and authors re-negotiating deadlines, finding free-lance assistance, needing space, or denying space. The complexities of relationships, art imitating life.

At publisher parties, "NCTE says this text will make me rich," "Boynton Cook says I'm the one to write this book," "I'm sorry your text didn't do well," "We need to talk about another edition soon," "No one understands how difficult it is to write an alphabetized handbook: Imagine sequencing capitalization, clause, coherence, colon, contractions . . . ." "Oh, Dorothy, I want you to meet . . . ." And the wine makes it all wonderfully woozy. All friendly, all fine.

Wandering or waiting in the lobbies, in the halls and in the elevators are the star seekers and the name-tag gotchas. Their furtive glances can be disconcerting, so think before pinning or hanging that id holder. Do you display it at your chest? At or below your waist? Your collar?

Do you wear it away from formal sessions or meetings? From my view between the fronds, I observed several conference-goers approaching tables to talk with whom they hoped to be a captive audience. Although the interruption wasn't always welcome, it was met with courtesy and sometimes grace. Without disguise and in wait for my dinner companions in the hotel lobby, I, like many others, greeted acquaintances as they passed. Engaged in conversation, I would notice a colleague's eyes drift to the left or right, spot a name, and oops, our talk was finished. Out into the misting air, just a short cab ride from Pinot Noir, I thought, "I'm ok with that. I have a stable ego structure. A Votre Sante!"

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