“I finished reading The Independence of the Dowager of Langthrope.” Kit Kat cringed at Dora’s words. The last thing she wanted to talk about was that book. “Oh!” Dora had entered Kit Kat’s house, hung up her coat, removed her boots and headed to the parlor before she stopped dead in front of her own painting. “You hung up my painting.”
“Of course, I did.” Kit Kat glanced around the room. Her comfy chair still faced the window and the other chair was haphazardly placed next to it. Kit Kat swung the guest chair around to the wall opposite the fireplace. “Sit here and look at it.” After Dora sat down, Kit Kat put her laptop on the table tray and brought her own chair next to Dora’s. When she sat in her comfy chair, she could smell the days of writing in it puff out like a small fart. She made a mental note to remove the slip covers and wash them. Dora just sat there looking at the painting hung above the mantle.
“It actually inspires me to be a better writer.” Dora had given her the Junco in Fall painting after the varnish had dried and Kit Kat was constantly reminded at how unlifelike her own writing was in comparison. She had been so proud of The Independence of the Dowager of Langthrope, but Antioch House was thoroughly displeased. The chapters that she had added to include the religious subplot felt so stilted and tacked on. She bristled at their insistence that the dowager choose a mate.
Dora smiled, “It looks so good there, above the fireplace, like it’s the most important thing in the room.” Her voice sounded dreamy and Kit Kat looked around. That painting WAS the most important thing in the room, merely because the parlor was so very empty. “Sometimes I forget that my paintings will eventually be on somebody’s wall. They just sit in piles in my studio.”
“That’s the problem. You need to SELL them to make room for more.” Kit Kat sincerely loved Dora’s work. “They DESERVE to be on walls in homes all over this nation to remind all those rich ski jackets about the fun times they had on Mount Zen.” Dora squirmed uncomfortably, so Kit Kat continued. “Do you know the definition of art?”
Dora shook her head and Kit Kat replied, “Frank Zappa said, ‘Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.’ If you don’t sell it, it’s not art.” Dora laughed and disagreed, “No, you’re wrong! It doesn’t need to be sold to be art! That painting wasn’t sold!” Kit Kat tried to defend her position, “Yes it was! You gave it to me in payment for our friendship. That’s kind of like being sold!” Dora scolded, “You don’t really believe that!”
Kit Kat considered for a moment, “No, you’re right. I don’t really believe that, but sometimes I try to convince myself of it. If I just write my stories and put them in a box, are they still stories? If no one reads them, are they literature or just random scribbling?” She drew in a big breath as the idea crystalized in her mind. “Our creations MUST be shared to be art, and the easiest way to share our art is to sell it.” She smiled at her mischievous thought. “To lots and lots of people!”
Dora sighed, “You’re right.” The small woman shifted in her chair and Kit Kat noticed that she barely took up half the seat. “I’ve been hoping to have a booth at Onion Days next August. I’m working on getting enough canvases finished in time.” Kit Kat was confused. “I thought Onion Days was nearly dead. Elvis keeps harping on it like it’s not going to happen next year and Angie almost seems like she wants to sabotage it.”
The mousy woman shook her head. “That’s what I’m worried about. I don’t want it to be a flop like it was last year. I NEED it to be a huge, roaring success so I can pay back the booth fee.” Kit Kat nodded and immediately thought of the things she could do to make Onion Days better.
“Anyway, I came here to tell you that I finished your book.” Dora smiled, eager to talk about it. Kit Kat squinted, not wanting to discuss it. “It’s not a romance. That kind of surprised me.” Kit Kat drew in a breath. Dora was right. It was NOT a romance. Despite the pursuit of the dowager by the duke and the merchant, it did not end in a relationship. “Far as I know, your publisher only prints romances. Isn’t that right?”
Kit Kat realized the problem before her. “What are they going do with your book?” Dora was was right. What WERE they going to do with her book? “I’ll be honest with you, Dora, they don’t really like it.” Kit Kat stood up and walked over to the table tray sitting near the window. She unplugged the laptop and held it to her chest. It was still warm from her writing only minutes ago. She lifted the table tray with her other hand and walked back to the chairs. She put the tray between the chairs and then replaced her laptop on it, winding the power cord around to behind the chair to plug it in.
“They made me add a ‘losing the faith’ subplot and they want the dowager to marry the merchant.” Dora gasped. “No! She can’t marry the merchant! He’s socially unattached, financially inferior to her and there is no true love between them.” Kit Kat felt vindicated. “I KNOW. That’s what I tried to tell them.”
Dora continued, “And she can’t marry the duke because, you know… he’s…” she whispered, “…gay.” Kit Kat laughed. “They haven’t even talked to me about that. I think that whole ‘confirmed bachelor’ thing just flew right under their radar.” She curled up in her comfy chair. “They’d probably make me cut him right out of the book if they realized that’s what I was trying to convey.” Dora smiled, “I think he should marry her son instead!” Kit Kat felt such a relief commiserating like this. “Yes! That’s what I wanted to imply. Of course, they couldn’t really marry back then because it was against the law.”
“I liked the book, Kit Kat, but those guys aren’t going to be happy with it. You can’t have a romance novel without a romance.” Kit Kat sighed, knowing that if she wanted to sell her book, either her publisher or the book would have to change drastically.