For the better part
of my young and aspiring-everything
life, I had wanted to be a published author
. It had been my dream, my one goal in life
. I could've been published in anything- it wouldn't have mattered to me. I would've just died to have one of my stories serialized
in Readers Digest
. Looking back, I would've died just to have one of my "letters to the editor
" published in the Sun Times
. However, after countless forays into various fields of writing, and facing rejection at practically every turn
, (save my short bout as the "editor" for the obituaries
at the Sun Times, if you want to count that) the realization befell me- I'm just no good at writing
I remember the premise to one of my first independent pieces. It was titled Lather, Rinse, Repeat: A Sobering Look at Organized Crime's Hand in Hair care's Black Market. As I began to research the topic and submit the concept to various publishers, I realized three things. For one, there was no hair care black market to speak of. Secondly, even if there had been, no one wants to read about shampoo, although I'm sure it may have been of some interest to our friends at National Public Radio. Finally, I learned that brainstorming writing concepts while reading the back of the "Pert Plus" bottle was in no way going to aid my attempt to "break into" the industry. As my quest for a "marketable", writing topic continued, I decided I might enlist the help of one of my close friends, Brent Goehner. (We'd given him the delightfully nonsensical moniker "Marshall", for no good particular reason)
"Well, what about a story on" I don't know, maybe" maybe the life of an artificial plant," suggested Marshall, lacking his trademark air of confidence which he most always possessed.
I stared at him blankly and said, "You're serious?"
"Well, sure," he replied, shrugging his shoulders. "You could write about how the plant worked its way up from lobby-duty in an office on the streets to becoming a prop in some big movie. You know, the trials and tribulations, the auditions, the drugs..."
"The drugs?" I interrupted.
"Well, I don't hear any Pulitzer Prize winning ideas coming from you!"
I rolled my eyes. "Yeah. That's because I'm keeping ideas like plant biographies to myself! If no one wanted to read about shampoo, I can promise you even fewer people will pick up ‘The Life and Times of Harvey the Hibiscus'."
I was beginning to get that "there-goes-two-minutes-of-my-life-I'll-never-get-back" feeling. I decided that I'd probably have better luck on my own. Sadly, this was not the case.
It soon became more and more apparent to me that this wasn't going to be the easiest goal in my life to accomplish. If you really want to know, the easiest goal I've ever set for myself and actually accomplished involved a whole bag of Oreo Double Stuf (you know, the kind with twice the creamy filling) cookies and no milk to speak of, over the course of a single episode of Behind the Music. Suffice it to say, some goals are better left unfulfilled. Anyway, all of that is besides the point. I continued time and time again trying to get something of mine published. From poetry to short stories to anything else you can think of, I tried it and most every time failed with much grace and aplomb. Now, as you may imagine, failing consistently at anything is depressing to say the least. When you can't quite cut it with your life goal, you begin to question all those people who used to tell you, "Oh, you can do anything you want, so long as you put your mind to it and work." I can tell you right now, that isn't always the case.
I'm not exactly sure what happened. I used to be a great writer in high school, and even through what college I completed. My professors at the community college always felt the need to assure me of my potential. I guess that the problem was never an inability to convey whatever topic I was trying to discuss, but instead, coming up with bitingly original and interesting content.
Fiction is the worst. I don't know how some authors do it. I've struggled with nothing quite as much as I have with creating windows into someone else's world- Forging characters and settings and happenings simply from the dark recesses of my mind? It's something I'm still trying to fathom. For now, I'm going to continue with my job at the regional library as "the copy guy", and keep putting my work out there. I figure sooner than later, some incredible, mind-blowing story will just pop into my head one day, and my dream will finally come true. So long as it's not about the life of a plant.