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.