Posted by danahaynes
OK, quick anecdote about selling the foreign rights to “Crashers” in Italy.
It was, I’m guessing here, the year 2000 or so. Oregon Public Broadcasting did a TV show every Friday night called “Seven Days.” It was just like “Washington Week in Review” but Oregon-centric: Four journalists and a moderator, talking about political issues.
I know: for many of you, this seems like a colonoscopy but without the high jinks. But I loved it. I watched it every week and I was a guest journalist about once a month for most of the 1990s, as editor of the Lake Oswego Review.
One day, I’m coming out of makeup (pale Irishman, stage lights make me look three-days dead) and I’m introduced to one of the other journalists. Her name was Naseem Rakha. Spiky hair, little round eye glasses. Quick, penetrating glance and a soft smile. We sat in the green room and did that pas de deaux that journalists always do: a quick testing out to see if you’re “for real.”
Oh, she was the real deal, all right. Smart. Prepared. She knew her stuff. Later, when we were on the set and miked up, two of the other participants were chatting about the Portland music scene. “I can’t wait for North by Northwest,” one of them said, then turned to Naseem. “Do you go?”
She was taking one last look through her notes, jotting facts in the margins. “The Cary Grant movie?” she said without looking up.
I snorted water over my notes. OK, she was my people.
If a time traveler had beamed into the OPB studio right then and said, “Rakha? Haynes?” Around 2010, you’re both going to sell the foreign rights to your novels,” we would have figured the guy was crazy. Foreign rights? To what? Of what novels do you speak, stranger?
Here’s to Naseem and “The Crying Tree.” Here’s to good journalism and the weekly civics lessons that are less and less a part of our lives (“Seven Days,” we miss you). Here’s to writers who take the rejection slips and keep punching.
Couple of working-class writers made it. If we can, you can.