I'm Baaaack With Questions of Ear Wax
Monday, June 7, 2010


I'm back.  I think I made it through query hell. Think being the operative word since no one has 
read my query yet. 

But, I did it. And I don't mean to be all Whiny Pants, but it was hard, man. So freakin' hard. 

So hard at times I thought my brain would explode. 

Writing a novel is one thing. Writing a novel was actually a joy. Encapsulating that work you've 
sweated over into a tight, perfect summary of 250 words is excruciating. 

Here's how I did it. 

I sat down a week ago, determined to whip up a query letter. 

I gave myself two requirements: I would accomplish this in a week. And I would stay away 
from my beloved blog world. 

Because, I'm sorry, but you blog people are my crack. 

And I knew if I said, "Well, I'll just go check one blog." an hour later, I'd still be wandering 
around through the blog neighborhood, looking for friends to distract me.

That afternoon, I stared at a blank screen for the longest time, the cursor just blinking accusingly 
at me as if to say, "Well? Come ON!". 

When nothing came, I figured maybe a distraction was in order. 

And that's when I started googling: Is Kelly Bensimon a loon?

And guess what, Internet? Turns out that not only is she a loon, she's an idiot, too. And that, 
my friends, is a dangerous combination.

I lingered in Real Housewives world for awhile getting worked up good over Jill Zarin. Is 
there anyone more vile on this planet besides, of course, Kelly Bensimon? I think not. 

Then I went back to that blank screen. Still nothing. 

And so it went for the week. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. 

And then when I'd finally write something I'd just tear it apart and start all over again. 

I ate a lot of chocolate. I wandered through my house like a nomad with my laptop, 
constantly changing locations in search of the most inspiring place to write. I shopped online. 
I googled every medical condition known to man. 

I'm pretty sure I have a hot toddy combination of Sleeping Sickness and Exploding Head 
Syndrome. Or it could be just a cold. I'm not sure. I just know I was confused and listless 
and the words would not come out, come out, wherever they were. 

I also discovered while surfing the Net that earwax can be a sign of heart disease. 

Ear wax. 

Now I don't want to be all TMI on you, but I just have to. 

Turns out if your ear wax is brown and sticky, your heart is going to seize up on you at any 

If your ear wax is gray and flaky, your heart is in the clear. 

The hell?

I have never had a second of gray, flaky ear wax in my life. And I think if my Q-tip came out 
of my ear covered in gray matter, I'd be all, "CALL THE DOCTOR! My ear canal is rotting! 
Either that or I have a dead fly in my ear."

Does everyone have gray, flaky ear wax? Because this is news to me. But, since I've never 
checked anyone else's ear wax out before, maybe I'm the one with the weird kind of ear wax 
and diseased heart. Mine is more yellowish.

Can you all let me know what your ear wax is like? Because, this is really bothering my 
hypochondriac sensibilites. The study was done in the UK, so perhaps their ear wax is different? 
We're certainly different in a lot of other ways, the main one being their unfathomable love for 
steak and kidney pie. 

Just writing the words makes me want to gag. So, I don't know. 


I took a lot of showers and bubble baths, because for whatever reason, oftentimes the words come 
to me when I'm in the water. 

I'm a mermaid writer. 

But mostly, I googled queries and read and reread everything there is to know about a good query 
which just paralyzed me with angst even more. 

It wasn't until about Friday between my snarfing junk food in frustration and my googling, that 
the ideas started to come and even then I got stuck on the last few lines. 

My Hubby wooed me away with a fancy dinner out on Saturday. Our college girl accompanied 
us and said at one point during dinner, "Mom, you're really quiet tonight. What's up with that? 
You're NEVER quiet."

She was right. I am never quiet, but I was in that writer's world inside my head, lost and struggling 
for the words as I stared at my plate. 

I told them I would give anything to have a Keith Richard's moment. 

Keith Richards woke up with the stupendous guitar riff for "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" 
playing in his head. He got up, recorded it and just went back to sleep and one of the best, 
kick-ass songs of all times was born. 

From dreams.

I tried so hard, thinking strong thoughts about my query as I drifted off to sleep, a pen and 
notebook on my nightstand. But the only dreams I could remember was one about Bono helping 
me hunt down some animal rights freaks who had kidnapped my lion cubs from my wicker 
basket given to me by Miss Gulch from The Wizard of Oz. And then there was the dream where 
My Hubby informed me he was leaving me for an extremely unattractive woman. When I asked 
him why, he said she knew how to cut hair and she had a really nice mixer he'd been wanting 
from William Sonoma. 

So, as hard as I tried, I couldn't decipher any clues about a query from those dreams.

On Sunday, I had a meltdown filled with self-doubt, panic and fear. I just sobbed and sobbed 
and told My Hubby all my troubles.

And his sage advice to me was, "You think getting your book published is something to worry 
about? I'm an insurance agent. Do you realize that there is a very definite possibility that as soon 
as this health care plan is put into action, my line of work will be out of business? Now, that's 
something to worry about."

I tell you, his words just bucked me up good. 

Now, for the record, my Hubby is a Negative Nancy any time anything happens in his business 
and after he lifted me up with those words, he must have perceived from the horrified look on my 
face, that perhaps that wasn't the sort of feel-good pep talk I was looking for. He was quick to 
reassure me, no matter what happens, he will find a way to bring home the bacon. 

And I have no doubt he will. His parents love to tell the story of him, as a 6-year-old, buying 
Blowpops for a dime and selling them to the other first graders for a quarter. 

After he gave me that bit of sparkle, he addded, "Big deal! This one doesn't work, you just 
write another one. And you just keep at it. Because you can do this."

And he's right. I just needed to stop my incessant whining. 

After his kick in the ass, I went forth and wrote. I took my query apart for the bazillionth time, summoned all my Keith Richards badassness and wrote. 

It is done. 

*Big Ass Sigh*

Oh, and there's one more thing about this week, one sparkly, lovely thing that kept me going. 
And that one thing was:

You. All of you. 

Your beautiful comments on my post brought me to tears; the emails that flowed back and forth 
during the week from so many of you, checking in to see how I was doing; the bolstering words 
sent my way from all of you, you who have become my dear friends; the beautiful awards and 
kind comments you wrote to me on your blogs; (And yes, when people sent me notes, telling me 
to go to their blogs, I kinda broke my no blog visiting rule a bit.); Shell who just about undid me 
with her pinkalicious praise at a moment I needed it the most; and even a song sent to me from the 
lovely Noelle. 

I felt like this tidal wave of support washed over me, filling me with empowerment and might. 

I didn't expect it, this outpouring of love and in a word, it was spectacular. 

You guys. 

Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am so very glad I walked into this blog world 
and I'm so glad to be back. 

Just a little FYI. I am giving my novel one more spit and polish, so I'll be taking every other day off. Blog world ban on those days. But, in between I'll stick my head in to say Hiiii, because as Barry 
says, "I just can't smile without you."

Today's Definite Download: Bob Schneider's, "40 Dogs (Like Romeo And Juliet)" This song has helped me through this week. It's such an uplifting song. I love the words. I kept hitting the replay 
on my iTunes over and over again as I struggled with the words. It spoke to me about the things 
to come. Things, I do believe, are right there in front of me just waiting for me to reach out and 
grab them.

We're like Romeo and Juliet
We're like 40 dogs, cigarettes
We're like good time that haven't happened yet but will
love that line

And I can tell you where we're gonna be
When the whole world fall to the sea:
We'll be livin' ever after, happily


Lisa said...

Yay, I'm so glad you're back!! I missed you - I feel bad that I didn't send you any cheer up, go get 'em emails...but I thought you WANTED to be left alone!!
Next time I will send a deluge of stuff so you know how much you are missed!!

This was hilarious (worth waiting for!) and I DO NOT have gray ear wax. Yuck. I' with you - I'd be more worried about the gray than the brown. Mine is more yellowish - do you think that falls in the brown or gray category?

Missed ya, glad you're back!!

Terra said...

Sounds like Pogo, when he said "We have met the enemy and he is us." We all tend of be guilty of that. Glad you crawled from the wreckage.

Heather said...

Hey. I missed you.

I think they might have gray ear wax on the other side of the pond because it is more overcast there. (Ok..that made no sense, but I don't have time to explain. I have to go have my 14 year old tested for heart disease! )

The Furry Godmother said...

Ohhhhh! I was hoping you'd been on some fabulous vacation in which you would afterwards regale us with some atrocity or another, but booo. Query letters. I found that the only time I got any real play with one was when I wrote it in the voice of Carmen. My eldest dog.

I'm proud of you for finishing the novel, let alone the query letter.

Anonymous said...

Yay! I am so glad you got it done and over with! Congrats!!

twelvedaysold said...

Okay, I don't watch Real Housewives so I googled Kelly. And this may have already been covered, but what is UP with her boobs? They're like a mile apart!

Woop woop on finishing the query letter! And your husband is SO right, you CAN do this! And a girl who can cut hair and has access to a good mixer? He has good taste.

Noelle said...

Pale yellow Joann...mine is pale yellow...ish. And it's flaky.

May I just mention again how happy I am that you're back???

For real...honest and true...

Unknown said...

OK I wouldn'ts sweat the Earwax because after all the test did come from the other side of the pond.. and how much stuff have they had approved for years that gets here and falls apart and they go bloody hell how come we never noiced that aobut that medicine, vaccine .. umm yeah consider the source lol. Glad you are back and so glad you got that out of your way

Gucci Mama said...

Yay! I can't wait to see you on the shelves, m'dear. I'm so glad you got it done. You rock. Now the other hard part comes...the waiting. Hope you hear some fabulous news very soon!

Gigi said...

Yay! Seeing your comment on my blog post made my day today! so glad you've rejoined us every other day in bloggyland!

CONGRATS on meeting your goal of gettin' it done!!! Sending all sorts of good vibes your way. :)

Ear wax = yellow. I agree, gray
seems scarier!!!!

duffylou said...

I'm so glad you made your goal and I'm happy you're back!

Hopefully you'll be able to relax a bit now even though you still need to work a bit more.

Welcome home!

Lula Lola said...

I've been itching to hear how things were going!
I just know you have amazing things ahead of you!
I'm glad your inner bad ass won out! I can't wait to stand in line at your book signing!
And I think if your ear wax is gray that you've already begun to decompose and all hope is lost!
So glad to hear from you! I've missed you!

Shell said...

Gray earwax???? Maybe they have that backwards and that is the kind that you have to watch out for. Gross.

Your husband sounds like a good man- encouraging you and knowing that you can do this.

Btw, my dh is in insurance, too, but he's mostly gone to the p&c side recently.

Glad to have you back- sort of back, anyway!

Alexandra said...

Hi, I've been thinking of you daily. Don't worry: we WOULD NEVER forget about you.

My ear wax has NEVER been gray. I think that's a joke someone put up there. I'm going to ask my doctor. Even my babie's ear waxes were NEVER gray.

Next: don't you LOVE the Q&A stuff going on at "torches". Those 2 women are awesome. I hope they do that post on sample query letters. I love going to those 2.

Get going, I want a book to ready by Joann Mannix.

Trista said...

First things first, I am so glad you are back!!!!! And, I am 100% positive that your query is excellent- your blog indicates that.

Second of all, my earwax is damn near neon yellow!!! that can mean one of two things- either we are going to croak any second or that UK study is what they would call "rubbish".

thirdly- I am glad I am not the only one who has wierd dreams (such as having sex with my gay male friend) kinda freaked me out for a while- lol

and last but not least- Kelly is off her f***ing rocker!!! She needs a craniotomy!

Hugs to you, I am so glad you are back!

Katie's Dailies said...

Welcome home!!

I've never heard of grey ear wax (which, by the way, totally grosses me out), but then the Brits have horrible teeth and don't seem too concerned about THAT!

Sadako said...

Glad to see you're back. So true about Kelly Bensimon. Even the now sentient google knows it.

Judie said...

The bit about the ear wax is oddly disturbing. Rod, who was diagnosed last year with congestive heart failure, has LOTS of brown ear wax. Mine, on the other hand, is neither brown nor gray--it is white.

My Best Friend Artist just finished writing a novel. It took her nine months, and now she is looking for a publisher, or an agent, or whatever. She gave it to me to read a couple of days ago. It took me a day and a half. She is pissed that it took me such a short time to read it, even though she knows I am a fast reader.
O.k., so what is the next step for you, and when can I expect to buy a copy? You know I will!!

rachel... said...

re: ear wax. I must be dying. Mine is sticky and light brownish. And I have a lot of it. So much that I've had to have my ears flushed out twice by doctors when I could barely hear. Also, I think this indicates that my ancestors were desert people.

I really picked a doozy for my first comment ever on your blog. :)

alicia said...

Oh my gosh, so glad you are back. That ear wax bit had me busting up, thought I'd split a rib from laughter. Never had grey flaky wax here. I think I'm dying of heart disease. lol

Blogland loves you, so next time you need a listening ear or a pep talk we're here for ya.

Congrats on finding those last words...
it's gonna be freaking awesome I already know.

injaynesworld said...

I think you just single-handedly spiked the sales of Q-Tips.

gmontalvo13 said...

haha, this post is so funny! mine is also a pale yellowish, thanks for asking :)

MrsBlogAlot said...

Good for you Joannl!!!!

There is nothing you can't do...and apparently getting away with a flaky/yellow ear wax conversation is one of them. (-:

I am so excited for you!

Can't wait!!!

Tiffaney said...

A really nice mixer from William Sonoma -- dying. Thank you for my first out-loud laugh today! I have missed you terribly, but knew your accomplishment and relief would be worth my separation anxiety. So glad you're back!

LisaPie said...

I'm perplexed. first I am really glad you are back and that you did well on the query, but I am a little weirded out about the ear wax thing.

The only time I can imagine gray flaky things coming out of the ear would be after doing the ear candling. Other wise that is just weird.

TesoriTrovati said...

Always thinking of you puts a smile on my face.
So glad to hear that your ear wax is the same as mine. And don't even get me started on my kids. They have potatoes growing in their ears. I am serious. We live in Ore Ida country (it is not just Idaho, you know). I saw a potato the size of my fist come out of my daughter's ear once. When the nice ER doctor shoved a needle nose tweezers in her ear. And then we flushed it out with high powered water bombs. Yea. That was fun alright. But we thought she had a hearing impairment. Turns out big wax balls run in our family.

Lovin' you!
Enjoy the day!

TesoriTrovati said...

Always thinking of you puts a smile on my face.
So glad to hear that your ear wax is the same as mine. And don't even get me started on my kids. They have potatoes growing in their ears. I am serious. We live in Ore Ida country (it is not just Idaho, you know). I saw a potato the size of my fist come out of my daughter's ear once. When the nice ER doctor shoved a needle nose tweezers in her ear. And then we flushed it out with high powered water bombs. Yea. That was fun alright. But we thought she had a hearing impairment. Turns out big wax balls run in our family.

Lovin' you!
Enjoy the day!

Anonymous said...

Hi Joann-I've never heard of gray, flaky ear wax. Mine is yellowish, brownish and littleb's is seriously brownish so that's disturbing. I agree with Heather-I think it quite possibly has to do with weather differences:-) What we need is for a few UK bloggers to chime in. I'm sure your query is great after all that effort you put into. You are very disciplined. Good luck.

One Photo said...

I am SO glad to hear you finally got your query letter done, even if it did take a hefty dose of googling, chocolate, bubble baths and more!

Welcome back! Good luck with those agents!

Carma Sez said...

c'mon - who has gray and flaky ear wax??? That hardly sounds waxy!

Paula said...

Missed you!

Kelly said...

Earwax, huh? I have never, EVER heard of anyone having GRAY earwax. That just sounds all kinds of wrong. My daughter, Thing 2, has the waxiest ears of anyone I know. She has enough earwax to make a couple of candles. Or was that a bit TMI?

I could never write a novel, let alone come up with a query but if anyone can do it, it's you and I can't wait to buy your debut novel.

Ed Pilolla said...

this was hysterical, from query letters to ear wax. i think they both are about as fun to deal with. congrats on the letter. back when i was younger and believed that everything i did was cute, i went around saying my ear wax smelled like peach italian ice. yeah. i have that tattooed on my soul. my big insight. fun stuff. here from the empress.

Joy said...

Maybe they are talking about wax on the outer ear?? Like, not IN the ear, but the rest of it. THAT part comes out a little grayish white..

Heart stuff freaks me out. I love my butter.

Liz said...

I so, so, SO happy for you! You seem so relieved! And what's the next step? Who do you give your query to?

Joann Mannix said...


I don't know if you'll see this, but you are the only one of my commenters I can't respond to. Do you have a comment place on your blog, a beautiful blog by the way. I just want to thank you for all your lovely comments you give me.

Anonymous said...

You are NOT supposed to put q-tips in your ear as my nurse screamed at me last week when I went in because my ears feel like they are going to explode and it turns out fluid is built up behind the eardrum and it hurts.
But yes, back when I did put q-tips in my ear it was very sticky and I am now worried I am going to keel over-probably on my laptop.
SO glad you got your query letter finished-good for you!

pieters said...

girlfriend i've missed you. i SO would have been writing you ALL WEEK but thought the "please do not disturb" sign was a tad deterring. look at all my bad grammar right there. anyway. hallelujah and thank you Jesus that thing is done! btw, bad puppy story. it made me want to throw up right then and there. one of the twins forgot to flush the toilet after going number 2. um. yeah....puppy, toilet...you get the picture.

just got relieved of nanny duty and i'm on a jet plane tomorrow morning back to the land where i belong.

did i tell you i missed you???


jayayceeblog said...

Gray and flaky ear wax??? That's disgusting! And I don't believe it for a minute. If sticky brown ear wax is a sign of imminent death, there are a lot of children out there about to have heart attacks.

I was reading your About Me page and this caught my eye: "Along the way, I still wrote letters to my husband and journals and letters to the editor. One of those letters caught the eye of the editor of our hometown paper. That fabulous lady dialed me up and asked me if I wanted a little column of my own." So do you have the letter to the editor that caught her eye and will you share it? Just bein' nosy!

SurferWife said...

Well damn. I may as well head out now, at 10:54 PM to get a plate of fried food because I am on death's door via cardiac arrest with you.

Sticky earwax it is.

And you have people sending you SONGS?! Wow. You really ARE special. I am honored you call me a friend.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the novel and the query letter, too. Other than voluminous amounts of bright red or dark purplish blood, I don't think I'll worry too much about the color of anything in (or coming out of) my ears. Just my opinion, though.

Anonymous said...

So it is 5:30 AM and I am shoving my pinky finger in my ear to see whether I am going to live or die.

It's been nice knowing you. ..

You are so magical with words I have no doubt that the letter is nothing short of brilliant!!!

Oh yes... And please tell your husband that now I am worried about his job security too.

Amber at The Musings of ALMYBNENR said...

I'm glad you made it out of query hell and I sincerely wish you luck with all of that. Here's to getting positive responses back!
As for earwax, well, mine agrees with yours. I'm not gonna lie, this disturbed me a bit - not you writing it, but what the study found...I mean, like you said, when has earwax EVER been gray?!
Maybe I should write this down and ask the doctor next time I have a checkup....hmmmm...

Renee said...

Welcome back! I'm so glad to hear you accomplished your query goal! I think your hubby is exactly right - keep at it no matter what!

As a fellow hypochondriac myself, the earwax thing is making me a little crazy this morning. I've never heard of gray earwax. It's a little concerning to me.

And by the way, I don't know if Bono & the lion cubs or your hubby & the mixer is funnier!! (Don't tell Bono, but I think it might be the other dream.)

Deborah said...

Oh! I knew I'd like it here! Fun fun fun.

Laffylady said...

Hi... You're on LOL today..link up and enjoy!

Liz Mays said...

Ear wax is likely only gray on a corpse. That's what I need to believe.

Jennifer Vanderbeek said...

Congrats on getting your query sent out--major step accomplished!!!

My ear wax is the same as yours and no doctors have ever told me anything bad about my ears! I think you're okay.

The best theory I've heard is that Kelly kook is a meth head. Which would be both very sad, if true, and explain so freaking much.

I always get my best ideas in the shower, but only because I stop thinking about things enough for my brain to process them :)

Ash said...

I'm a firm believer that gray and flaky found anywhere on your body is a very bad thing - they got their facts wrong.

I'm not a doctor, but I play one on your blog.

Way to rock the query letter!!! Off to check you on LOL...

Bossy Betty said...

Still waiting, examining my own ear wax until I hear from you....

Tracie said...

Yeah! You did it!

I was thinking of you all week. I still can't wait to read your novel. I'm going to show up at one of your book signings. Wait for it.

Katherine said...

Earwax and heart attacks. Nope, I had no earthly idea. I do know about yellow pee and dehydration though... do I get a bonus point? :)

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