Posted by: deadmousediaries | November 27, 2014

Dear Abby, Dear Heloise, Dear Mitchell Kyd — a strategic career move ahead??

When I meet people and they ask me what I do now, I tell them I’m a writer. I love entertaining my friends with my tale weaving and it warms my heart to help others excavate their personal stories. But it hit me last weekend after watching Christmas in Connecticut that if I want to pay the bills, I’ve been approaching this writing thing all wrong; I need to change my tactics.

After seeing Barbara Stanwyck shine in that holiday classic for the umpteen-umph time, I had a real epiphany. If I want to make the big bucks, I should pen an advice column!

If you aren’t familiar with that old 40s movie, Barbara Stanwyck plays a writer living alone in a trendy New York apartment. She writes for an upscale magazine where she details the bliss of her domestic life in rural Connecticut as she wows readers with her recipes for roast duck and perfect souffles followed by homemade truffles enjoyed in front of the fireplace. The dream home comes alive from her own creativity; the recipes come compliments of her Hungarian uncle, a chef and restaurant owner.

When her boss invites himself for a last minute visit to her home for the Christmas holidays, she resorts to drastic measures. The game is on to produce not only a husband, but a Connecticut farmhouse and a baby all in the span of weekend if she wants to keep her job. That must have been some salary!

Another writer hides a similar secret in the hit movie The Help. Our heroine Skeeter, played by Emma Stone, lands her first journalism job with her local paper only to find she’ll be writing the cleaning advice column. Skeeter responds to her loyal readers thanks to the experience and wisdom of her girlfriends’ maids but the real story begins to tell itself along the way. It doesn’t take long until she bounces into fame and fortune with her tell-all book about genteel Southern living, told from the help’s perspective.

Do you recognize the names Pauline Esther Friedman and Esther Pauline Friedman? (Yes, you read those names correctly.) How about their pen names Abigail Van Buren and Ann Landers? These twin sisters guided and entertained readers for decades as the authors of their individual advice columns Dear Abby and Dear Ann. Their fans led them to syndication, radio shows, book deals, TV appearances and even a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The advice of Ponce Kiah Marchelle Heloise Cruse Evans continues to be carried by 600 newspapers worldwide. You might know her better simply as Heloise. Her fame was built by carrying on the work of her mother who had started a little column in a Honolulu paper in 1959, the one that soon became known as Hints from Heloise.

What do these writers have that I do not?  A following. And residuals. So here’s my thought. My own holidays have always been filled with “opportunities” to fix kitchen mishaps, intervene on family rivalries or otherwise avert domestic disasters. Maybe I do have the insight and experience it might take to launch me into fame and fortune…

Thanksgiving and the holiday season seem like the perfect time to test my theory. Let me respond to a few possible reader inquiries so you can help me decide.

Dear Mitchell Kyd: No matter how prepared I think I am for our big dinner, I always find some kind of stain on my best table linens just as I’m setting the table for Thanksgiving. I never have time to re-launder them. What can I do? Signed: Chagrined in Cove Gap.

Dear Chagrined: Get over yourself already! If it bothers you, set something hot and immovable over the unsightly spot and move on with your day. Remember, your family and guests came to see you, not your linens. If they wanted to look at tablecloths, they would already be at the mall. MK

Dear Mitchell Kyd: My favorite radio station starts playing Christmas carols in the middle of November now. I hate it! I think we should be able to enjoy Thanksgiving before being bombarded with 25 versions of Silent Night! Signed: Annoyed in Nova

Dear Annoyed: I’m completely with you about making time to enjoy Thanksgiving but you strike me as the kind of person who probably complains if your ice cream is cold (as my father-in-law would have put it). If you don’t like what your favorite station is playing, then it’s not your favorite this time of year. Press another button! When you are ready to hear Christmas music, return. In the meantime you might express a small bit of gratitude that our radio airwaves can still carry songs about the origins of Christmas and not just more dogs barking to the tune of Jingle Bells.  MK

Dear Mitchell Kyd: My sister lets her kids help with Thanksgiving prep and they put marshmallows in her sweet potato casserole. They bring it every year. Marshmallows! Imagine! How do I tell her I’d prefer she leave those out or bring something else instead? Signed: Frustrated in Ft. Loudon

Dear Frustrated: Your sister and her kids choose to spend this family holiday with you, they bring a dish to share and she is teaching her kids some responsibility? You might want to Google what Thanksgiving is all about. If the potatoes don’t please you personally, recall a skill from your childhood; remember how you hid your brussel sprouts. And tell your sister thank you. MK

Dear Mitchell Kyd: The holidays are already so hectic and to top it off, my three cats are always due for their shots in December. How can I get them to the vet without stressing out? Signed: Baffled in Bino

Dear Baffled: If you had been reading this column regularly, you’d know I have absolutely no suggestions. MK

So, readers, what do you think? Do I have a future in the advice column world? Yeah, me neither.  MK


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Responses

  1. But you do have a spot in entertaining others through your gift of writing! Thank you for always making me smile and giggle. Wishing you peace and blessings this holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas.

  2. Au contraire. I think offering advice could be a wonderful new career for you, a happy mix of fun and success, And let us not forget the delicious smugness and empowerment that comes with telling people what to do.

  3. Thank you for advising, informing and making me smile! That’s a big job and you do it so well. Happy Thanksgiving, Kyd.

  4. I enjoy so much of your writing, but this takes the cake! Mary Ann Payne (Chrissy’s Mom)

  5. What a great voice – and it doesn’t matter what you tackle! By all means go for the advice column. We all love to snark at other peoples’ problems, and enjoy a good chuckle while we’re doing it.

  6. Dear Mitchell Kyd,
    I have a friend who could really benefit from your other blog about the all night laundromat. I think she’s ready to chuckle a little through her sniffles. But I can’t find it. Would you send me the link?
    thanks – Merry Christmas!

    • Hi, Judy-thanks for thinking to share my stuff. That’s why I’m airing my private journey in public, the hope I can help someone else realize it can be ok. It’s necessary now to redefine normal. My other blog is allnightlaundromat.WordPress.com.


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