As you are all undoubtedly aware, I am about four months out from the publication of my novel Modern Girls. And once it’s out, and I am indeed a published author, you might find yourself thinking, “Self, now the Jennifer is a published author, just how should I behave around her?” What an excellent question. And for the answer to that, I would like to refer you to The Behaviour Book: A Manual for Ladies, written by Miss Leslie in 1853, which just happens to have, beginning on page 256, advice on how to conduct yourself around Literary Women (of which I clearly am). Of course, if you are a gentleman, you can just ignore this post, because clearly this advice is not meant for you. I shall outline the highlights:
- You must imply that, knowing me be reputation, you are glad to have an opportunity to make my personal acquaintance. I take this to mean you should never show up without bourbon in hand.
- Please do not speak of my first book as my best, because you would be suggesting that my work is retrograding. Mercury might be in retorgrade.; never my writing.
- Never suspect that what I write is improbable; remember a woman of quick perception and good memory can see and recollect a thousand things which would never be noticed or remembered by an obtuse or shallow, common-place capacity [i.e. you].
- To an artist, time is money, therefore do not waste my money time.
- Please remember that a large number of literary ladies are excellent needlewomen and good housewives. I, however, am not one of them. Should you witness my doing anything domestic, you should be alarmed that something has happened to the rest of my family.
- You musn’t refer to me as a learned lady, as while I have a post-graduate degree, I do not know any of the dead languages and therefore am clearly unlearned. Perhaps this is why I’m incapable of doing the laundry.
If you would prefer to be on the receiving end of this etiquette because you are unsatisfied with merely knowing an esteemed, not-learned authoress such as myself, then by all means, take the advice proffered in “Suggestions to Inexperienced Authors.” To begin, you must buy a ream of paper and then cut it. Only ivory will do for this. Elephants be damned. However, be sure you don’t ask me to read this masterpiece, for you are conceited and most obtrusive, while I am clearly “well up the ladder.”
That is all. I need to go spend my money time working on my next novel. Good day, m’ladies.