Have not written here for a few weeks, but someone asked me some things about a certain experience, and I decided it was time to get back here. We have all heard about those “fifteen minutes of fame,” that Andy Warhol mentioned. With the advent of global communications and Internet accessibility, his quote has come to mean that anyone, at some time, or another, can become famous, or enjoy momentary celebrity for a short space of time. Even a grandmother who worked as the General Manager of a bookstore and wrote poetry in her spare time.
This blog is about following the signs and symbols in ones path, listening to ones intuition and allowing it to lead one in directions, and to experiences, that might not otherwise be encountered. I am the grandmother mentioned above and this is the story of how I encountered those already mentioned 15 minutes.
I was minding my own business, such as it was. Five years out of college, which I had started at the ripe old age of 37. About two years previously, I had come to the realization that I really wanted to write, be a writer. But, my first love was poetry, and I knew that poets do not make a living writing poetry, at least the majority of them do not. And most of the most famous among that group, didn’t earn that distinction until after they were dead.
A single mother, still raising my last two children, I needed a steady income and had been managing the bookstore for several years, trying to make ends meet. I’d had a few poems accepted in small presses. The payment was a copy of the book, after printing. That free copy was often sent to my Mother, and I would purchase a copy for myself. Not at all a prosperous proposition.
But, my dream was to be a writer. I had decided that I would at least put some of my energy into looking the part, even if I wasn’t actually living it. To accomplish that, I rose early every day and wrote two or three pages, mostly prose, but sometimes pieces of poetry would slip into those pages. I did that long hand and it took me about forty minutes to an hour to fill those pages.
Some of those snippets of poetry had ended up being poems in those free copies I had received. But, it took both time and energy to mail out the submissions, keep track of what I sent out and where, and also money to do the mailing. One day, as I was writing about all of this, and how difficult it was becoming, I realized a very important fact. I worked in a bookstore. I ordered the books that lined some of those shelves.
One of my favorite presses was a publisher that went by the name of Paper Mache Press. I really liked the books they put out, yet had never submitted anything to them. They put out anthologies, mostly written by unknown poets and short story authors, but the anthologies were filled with real life experiences, honest down to earth expressions of individuals like myself, who wrote because they loved that activity.
That morning I made a decision. I had been submitting to small presses, often local or within the state I resided. It was time to move beyond my self-imposed limits. Time to see if I could succeed in a wider place. My decision was simple. I would go to the smoke shop, just down from ‘my’ bookstore, and purchase a copy of Poets &Writers Magazine. They always had a classified section where they posted Calls for Submissions. It was time to broaden the base of my own possibilities.
That morning, before unlocking and opening the bookstore, I went first to the smoke shop, grabbed a copy of the magazine, and took it back to the bookstore, where it sat on a shelf behind the counter for several hours, while I opened the store, caught up with chores and dealt with customers. Sometime, after lunch, I had some quiet time and remembered the magazine. Got it out and went directly to the Call for Submissions page. The first category of submissions was for Anthologies. The first call for Submissions was from Paper Mache Press, wanting black and white photos, poems, and short stories about men and women growing old together.
To say I was a wee bit surprised, would be an understatement. I was floored. Had to read the ad three times to just get my head wrapped around what I was looking at. Had long been a believer in synchronicity and the workings of intuition, but this was way off the wall and just plain weird. After several minutes of just trying to catch my breath, I finally really read the ad and noticed that this anthology was going to be about men and women growing old together. Brick wall.
I was divorced, had ended my marriage shortly after starting college. Wasn’t looking for a husband, wasn’t dating, just wasn’t interested. How could I possibly write about an experience I would probably never participate in? I felt hollow inside. Put the magazine next to my purse and went back to work both disappointed and sad. And if I’m honest, I felt just a bit cheated. There was this carrot, dangling there in front of me, but not really meant for me at all. Wipe out.
(to be continued..)