Tuesday, May 11, 2010
So you may have noticed it has been awhile. I wish I could tell you I was busy traveling the world or engaged in an illicit affair with a much younger man. Sadly neither were the case. Instead, I have been spending most of my time feeling sorry for myself. That is when I am not busy looking for a job.
I went to high school with this guy we’ll call Mike -- not because that is necessarily his name but because 33 percent of my high school’s population was named Mike. Ever since Mike could say hike-hike he wanted to be a professional (American) football player. And this wasn’t a wholly unrealistic dream for Mike because Mike was quite good. He went to college on a full football scholarship and was even drafted to the NFL.
But then he was traded to another team that then cut him before his first professional game.
That didn’t stop Mike from trying out for another team the following year. And the year after that. And the year after that.
Sometime before Mike turned 30 he decided to hang up his cleats, settle down, marry a girl he knew in high school and begin his life after football. I can’t tell you what Mike is doing now or if he is happy. All I can tell you is I have been thinking a lot about Mike lately as I pursue my own dream, at what seems at the moment, against all odds.
Sure, querying editors and getting back rejection letters may not be as grueling as football camp. But it does hurt. And with anything in my life that hurts -- to push through, I need to see an end.
The first time I ran a marathon, completely untrained and having only quit smoking a few days before, I managed to finish, not because I am a machine as some of my friends have suggested, but because I could push through the pain knowing with every step I was that much closer to a finish line. That, and I had to prove something to Lana who was worried I would die of kidney failure somewhere in Fairmount Park.
When I got my tattoo, it hurt, but I just bit my lip, closed my eyes tight and continued to sit perfectly still knowing that it would all be over soon and soon, I would have something really cool to show for it. And believe me, it wasn’t easy. Especially since the tattoo artist was playing Guns n Roses and every bone in my body wanted to get up and dance.
But with this project, there is no end. I mean, there is an obvious, great ending. I find an agent and (s)he finds me a publisher, I go on a book tour where I learn that the Times declares my first novel could single-handedly save the failing book industry and everyone in America loves it.
And that is what I was thinking about when I turned to my book shelf to find other author’s whose agents might be interested in me. No, not the awesome ending, but the never-ending. As I stared blankly at those same spines, I honestly wondered if I shouldn’t but a time limit on my dream. Mike had 30. Of course it’s too late for me to use that one. So, what? Maybe 32? 33? 35?
Then my eyes caught the unbroken spine of Hugh Rosen’s first novel SILENT BATTLEFIELD. Mr. Rosen had given me a copy of his book after I interviewed him for a piece in the Chestnut Hill Local. He had just completed his MFA at Temple University and SILENT BATTLEFIELD was his final project.
Mr. Rosen was well into his 80s when I sat down to talk to him in his little apartment.
I wanted to smack myself for how stupid I had been (but instead, I drank copious amounts of red wine knowing my hangover from that would be much worse than anything else I could inflict on myself).
After all, unlike my ovaries, my dream doesn’t have an expiration date. And I know, if Mike physically could (without being laughed at the way I would be laughed at if I showed up at Bleu Martini or Glam) he would be at Eagle’s training camp again this summer giving it another go.
So I’m back, until the next mini-mental breakdown.