Karen Brichoux

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"Draws the reader into the story and never lets go." --RT Bookclub
"Brichoux reminds the reader how powerfully the landscape of 'home' can define a person." -- High Country News
Previously Released
"An exceptional novel." --Melissa Senate, author of The Solomon Sisters Wise Up
"A coup. Warm, smart, and original." --Kirkus Reviews


The Really Awful Question

November 2, 2015

(Please Note: As a general rule, I won’t wax philosophical in my newsletters, but since this is the very first one, I thought it might be appropriate. Just this once.)

Never believe the ads that say, “scratch resistant” when buying glasses with plastic lenses. “Scratch resistant” means you won’t see a thing through those glasses in twelve months. Of course, I clean my glasses by grabbing the hem of whatever I happen to be wearing. I’m told scratch resistant does not mean scratch proof and cleaning your glasses isn’t good for plastic lenses. It scratches them. Gee.

I’m sitting in front of those little mirrors while the optical assistant bends and prods my new frames and tells me my ears are attached to my head unevenly. Then she asks the “really awful question.”

“So, where do you work?” she asks while mangling an earpiece.

Writers are very sensitive to this question.

“I’m a writer,” I say.

“What do you write?”

“Fiction.” And then I grit my teeth.

“What have you published?”

“Nothing yet.” (This was a year or so ago.)


She says this “oh” with that ... tone. The one that says, “Oh, you’re a BUM.”

After a while, I started telling people I was a bum up front. It spared me a lot of chit-chat at parties.

Did the optical assistant actually think I was a bum? Probably not. Did I think she thought I was a bum? Definitely.


When a person sets out to chase down a dream, she (or he) has to deal with a certain amount of guilt. I’m not sure where this guilt comes from. Perhaps it’s the old ingrained work ethic that says, “if you’re not bringing home the bacon (turkey, of course), you’re worthless.”

But how do you price a dream? How much are you willing to pay in order to be true to yourself? How much will you risk? What will you risk? A comfortable job? Pride? Failure?

At the risk of sounding too philosophical, let me say just this once: there is nothing more important than doing what you love.

At the risk of sounding too promotional, let me add that doing what you love is at the heart of Coffee and Kung Fu. Not because I thought it was a cute thing to say. Not because I thought it sounded profound when I said it out loud. It just happens to be what I believe.

And I’m happy doing what I love. Which is writing. Even though I know everyone thinks I’m a bum.

Tune in next month (December) when I’ll start a series called Sticks, Stones, and Broken Bones (Or The Agent Hunt).

Until then, do what you love.