Thursday, October 22, 2009

Where Are My Spiders?

So I was hoping to post my own story today, but the sad truth is that I haven't finished it yet. I've got a good idea that I'm excited about, but I haven't been able to actually sit down and write it. Here's why.

The last few weeks have been really ... interesting and exciting and kinda stressy. You might already know that I spend a lot of time writing about plants. It's kind of my hobby, and it kind of became my job through a lucky series of events. Anyway, two weeks ago, I got a phone call from a morning show on the local CW affiliate, asking if I wanted to start doing weekly "Gardening Guru" type segments. My first reaction was no. My second was hell no.

My third was yes.

I have zero TV experience—until last week, I'd never even seen a TV studio. And I hate, hate, hate cameras. But the more rational part of my brain said this was a good thing. I thought, It can't possibly hurt to get live TV experience. And the whole idea was a tremendous challenge: I was always the guy who said I NEVER wanted to be on TV. My friends would sit around talking about wanting to be famous, and I was always saying, "No way."

Believe me, my first 1.5 seconds on air were just sheer terror. It's kind of funny, actually. Just before the segment started, when I was standing at the demo table (we were planting papaya from seed), all the cameras in the studio rotated and moved in for the shot. For some reason, this completely unnerved me. The host introduced me and the segment, then turned to me and said, "Nice to have you here, Jon."

But I was frozen. My mind was a complete blank. I was on live TV. The cameras loomed off my left shoulder like predatory, one-eyed aliens. But I knew I had to fill the next second with words. I had to say something. So I reached and came up with the only thing I could think of: "Nice to have you here."

Yep, I parroted the host like a babbling fool.

She looked confused for a split second, but thank goodness she's a professional and just moved on. Anyway, the rest of the segment went off OK, but when I watched it back, I saw a million things I wanted to fix, correct and change.

My second segment was this Tuesday morning. This one was on planting tomatoes. I felt MUCH better after this one. I knew what to expect, I had a plan going in (although there are still lots of things I need to fix). I'm hoping next Tuesday is even easier, and the one after that is easier yet, and someday, live TV will be no big deal. Then I hope to have a need to use my TV skills. :)

And doesn't it figure that right at the same time, other things got really busy. I'm shopping a nonfiction book proposal right now and got a request for a proposal from a leading agent in my market—but she has very specific requirements and I have to basically redo the whole proposal. Then I finally settled on my next fiction project, and of course, I've got the normal full-time workload. So the upshot is that I didn't get my story written, a story I was really excited about, for a prompt I took myself and saved for a month. Drat.

Anyway. I know what the next question is. "Where can we see these clips? Do they really put monkeys on TV?" Indeed, they do.


Jude Hardin said...

I thought you did a great job, Jon!

Melanie Avila said...

You did a super good job!


It's so weird seeing you in action. You look nothing like the monkey I had in my head. I'm so excited for you that you've had so many good things come up!

ROFL @ the love fern. And btw, your voice is perfect for TV. Very soothing. :)

LurkerMonkey said...



LurkerMonkey said...


Ha ha! But seriously, you have no idea how weird it was to see myself on TV. I mean, I barely look at myself in a mirror, and I generally avoid cameras and video equipment. When I saw it at first, I was like, "Is that what I really look like?"

And double ha ha on the voice thing. Personally, I think I sound veeeeery Midwestern, but then again, you're a Chicago girl so maybe I sound like home for you :)

Melanie Avila said...

Yep, I was born and raised in Michigan, then after a brief stint on the east coast, moved to Chicago so you sound like home to me. :)

Richmond Writer said...

Nice comment on Erica's blog. Checked out the video, you looked great. I didn't even notice the greeting. I kept thinking wow, I'm not the only one. I've got pineapple, two mango trees, and one grapefruit from stuff I bought at the grocery store. Since I live in VA I have to drag them inside during the winter. I haven't gotten any fruit yet though and these things are 4 years ago. Any hints?