ROBERTA: If anyone is worse than me at spotting trends early--fashion or otherwise--I'd like to know her. Even if I see a fashion trend coming, the wagon will have left the station by the time I considering piling on. Let's take leggings for example; I've waited so long to embrace this trend that I think it may be coming around for the third or fourth time before I ever try a pair on. Facebook? I protested this as a useless time sink for years before I finally signed up--one of the last holdouts I suspect. Trends in publishing? Don't I wish I'd thought of writing about vampires in the early days along with Charlaine Harris. Or at least piled on while the idea was still catching fire. But no, I study my daily Publishers Marketplace emails, in awe of all the high concepts that wouldn't have occurred to me in a million years.
So what's the secret to spotting trends Jungle Red Writers? Are you good at it? Can you give me some tips? If not, tell us a story about what you missed!
HALLIE: Don't ask me! Three years ago I was telling people to forget about writing vampire mysteries. It would be so passe a few years hence. Not.
RHYS: I think some people are born with the trend gene. My daughter was one step ahead of fashion all the way through high school. When I was in London in the swinging sixties (doesn't that date me?) I was right up there with Mary Quant--dress up to my thighs like a British flag and white plastic boots with windows in the side. Since I left the entertainment biz and got married I've never tried to keep up and frankly I don't miss it. I know what suits me and am content. Funnily enough my daughters look at pictures of me and can't believe that I threw away clothes that are now fashionable again!
ROBERTA: OH man, Rhys, wish we could have seen you in the British flag and those boots!
HANK: Pleeeze. In 1980, I got a phone call from a guy who was working on a start up company. At the time,I was the anchor of the weekend news for the NBC affiliate and thought I was hot stuff. This guy showed me the new offices, and told me he wanted me to be the Los Angeles bureau chief of this new news organization they were putting together. But I was truly a trendspotter,so I knew it was doomed to failure.
No thanks,I said. Miss Know It All.
Afterwards I said to a pal--can you imagine? They think they can show news for 24 hours a day? No way. They're nuts.
ROBERTA: Ouch, that one hurts, Hank. But just think, maybe you wouldn't have met Jonathan, nor would you know all of us:).
HANK: Oh, exactly! NO regrets. More hilarious, I had a news director who came into the office in 1975 with a yellow plastic thing. I said--what's that? He said--"It's called a 'videocassette.' They say videotape is going to replace film. But don't worry. It'll never last."
JAN: I actually think I'm a pretty good trend spotter. I picked up that Financial News was going to become big, back in late 1970s. So I jumped in. The bad news was that I got bored and jumped out in 1986 (Okay to have a baby) just when financial news really took off.
I find that a lot. I spot a trend, but too early. And then if you want to jump back in, it's too late.
But I think all of us spot a trend from time to time, just not ALL the TIME, or the EXACT right trend that would profit us best at the moment.
RO: Clueless when it comes to trends, especially clothing. If I'm wearing something that's in fashion it's probably an accident. I realized in the fourth grade that I'd never be fast enough to keep up with them so I took a pass. I see pictures of myself from high school or my twenties and think...I would still wear that - and sometimes do! That doesn't keep me from buying InStyle magazine, my favorite guilty pleasure airport magazine to which I now subscribe. I like knowing what the trends are but rarely want to wear them myself.
My notable non-fashion, clueless moment was when my former boss told me he'd forged a relationship with the WWF, the World Wrestling Federation, to distribute their videos. I thought, jeez, wrestling? That'll last a year and he'll be stuck with videos of Hillbilly Jim and Junkyard Dog. He made a ton of dough, wrestling is still going strong, and Hillbilly Jim was one of the nicest guys I met in the video business. What do I know?
ROBERTA: Okay Jungle Red readers, do you have the trend-spotting gene? And what have you missed?
Don't forget to come back often this week--we'll have three visitors: a comic strip artist/writer, the author of TRUE CONFECTIONS, and advice for empowering creativity. And we'll be talking books, books, books...