Friday, October 9, 2009

Yearning Potential

Some time ago, I found out that a local writer was going to appear at a "Meet the Authors" event at a suburban community center. As I had taken an interest in this person's writing, I decided to attend. There would be other writers there, too, and maybe I could pick up a few helpful tips. I could use some. They were published writers that got paid for their work, whereas I flushed my stuff down the Internet free of charge. (Please don't take offense at that last remark, Loyal Reader. It's just that I filled out a White Castle job application this morning, and had to come up with three reasons--three reasons!-- why I wanted to work there. The experience has left me a tad grumpy.)

At the community center, the writers all sat behind little tables with paper nameplates that ringed the fairly spacious room. About half the names I recognized as writers for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the rest worked for various alternative weeklies in the area. One fellow worked for an Akron paper, and he just so happened to be seated next to, and chatting with, the writer I came to see. I walked up to my writer, thus interrupting the chat, and introduced myself. We exchanged pleasantries, she told me about an upcoming project she was working on, and that was that. Except it wasn't. You see, whenever I meet a famous person--her name was regularly in print; that was famous enough for me--I don't want it to end. So I just stood there, desperately trying to come up with something to say. The fellow from Akron took this as an opportunity to resume his conversation. This guy was a sports writer, and had just written a book about LeBron James. Impressive, huh? Apparently not.

"I want to write about the things you write about," The guy from Akron said to my writer. "I'm tired of writing about sports all the time. There's a whole world out there!"

I was astonished to hear him say this. Though I'm not one of them, I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who would give their right arms to be sports writers. Well, maybe their left arms, as most need their right ones to type.

Brent Larkin, a longtime writer for The Plain Dealer, and, before that, the now defunct Cleveland Press, retired a couple of months ago. An article announcing that retirement mentioned how he always wanted to be a sports writer, in fact a sports editor. It never happened. Instead, for the past two decades, he had to settle for being the editor of the Plain Dealer editorial page, a position that allowed him regular contact with mayors, congressmen, governors, senators, even presidents.

"I'm in a rut," said the sports writer who had just written a book about LeBron James.

Such is life. A shining city on the hill for one is a ghetto to be escaped from for another.

9 comments:

  1. White Castle, hmm what are rents like in Cleveland? - Kumar

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  2. Welcome to the blog, Kumar. Maybe you can convince Harold to drop in.

    There's only one White Castle on Cleveland's West Side that I'm aware of, and it's next to an adult book store. Supply your own punchline.

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  3. Kirk, any chance I know the name of the woman writer you purposely went to see? Like EO'B?

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  4. Maybe Neil Patrick Harris-Kumar

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  5. I used Brent Larkin's real name because I read it in a PD article, thus it's part of the public record. I didn't use the other writers names (one of whose I forgot, though I could easily look it up) because I was basically eavesdropping in on a conversation, and, at this stage of my life, I don't think I quite qualify as the "public record". I would hope neither would mind my, uh, reporting, as discontent is hardly scandelous. If it were, I'd be on the cover of the National Enquirer.

    I will throw some other names out at you, as they already have publicly done so. In the "List of Blogs", LimesNow, where your always interesting "Ramblings" reside, you'll see the names Ken Levine and Mark Rothman. Ken Levine has written for MASH, Cheers, Frazier, seems like every popular sitcom of the last quarter century. He has stated on his blog that the reason he started said blog in the first place is he wants to write a book, and thought he could use the blog to entice a publisher. Mark Rothman has written for The Odd Couple, Happy Days, and Laverne and Shirley (and once made a guest appearance in the comment section of this very blog). On his blog the other day he wrote of dicovering, on one of those "site meters" that tell you where a blog's readers are hailing from, that he had fans reading his stuff at the Disney and Sony studios. As he himself wrote, they may just be people in the mail room, but, if not, if they're studio execs, he has a movie idea that he'd like to write and direct.

    I don't know how ambitious you are about your writing LimesNow, but you can either take solace that even reletavely successful creative people sometimes have a hard time finding the right outlet for that creativity, or you you can wonder, as somebody (another person whose name I've seen in print) wondered in EOB's comment section a while back, that if a known name can't get a book published, what's the hope for the rest of us.

    Myself, I ping-pong as usual between optimism and pessimism. I have one of those "site meters" myself, and I noticed I have a reader with some kind of connection to La Quinta Inns.

    Maybe I can get a job as a desk clerk.

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  6. By the way, Tag, I also applied for a job at Guatanomo Bay prison (it only took me 24 hours to come up with that line. I'm on the ball, huh?)

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  7. Oh, Kirk, I'm not in the least ambitious about my writing. Writing is not what I do. I certainly couldn't earn money or fame from it. I do love writing, but, for me, it is driven simply by the need to tell the stories that I know.

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  8. I wasn't trying to talk you out of writing, LimesNow. I like reading your stuff. I was just using the comment section as an excuse to use some material I left out of the original post because I didn't want it to run on too long.

    Of course, I was also trying to avoid answering your question.

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  9. Well said, my clear-sighted friend!

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