I’ve always known I wanted fame and fortune out of life. But more importantly, I wanted to experience it as a writer. I started my literary career early, and considered myself fairly successful at it. I wrote my first novel at thirteen, (which the dog thankfully ate), won contests in high school and college, and imagined my writing skills with Ernest Hemingway. Following in his footsteps, I traveled extensively, had many jobs, and wrote a lot, always just skirting larger publications and mouthwatering fame. But mainly for self-preservation and the voices that wouldn’t leave me until I purged them onto paper, I always wrote. If I wanted a semblance of sanity in an already crazy life, I wrote.
Break to a few years later, when I had completed myself with a mate and child. I wrote my second novel when my son was three. This one was much better, and I was determined to see it through to publication. A week after I finished it, my son threw a tantrum because I wouldn’t let him use “Amy’s First Primer,” and hid all my floppies, including the one with my book on it, the research notes, and all the back-up copies that were supposed to keep something like that from happening. Despite tearing the house to pieces, cajoling, threatening, and pleading, I never found them. In defeat, I returned to the ranks of the uninspired and mundane writers and taught middle-school.
Add on a few more years. All the little people in my head were getting really loud and insulting, and I decided to give it another try. Backed by years of experience, I threw myself into writing articles, short stories, and novels. I wrote for hours a day, slamming a story right back into the mail as soon as it flew home. It was going to happen this time. I could taste it. Slowly, I was published in small literary magazines, and editors were actually giving me feed-back. I even started to pay for my postage with the writing! Whoopee! Eight months later we had a house fire that took everything we owed with it. Screw the voices, I decided! Fame and fortune will never happen! I’m going to find another way to make my money.
I started a costume design company with my mother in the 1990s. We grew to the point of having several workers. I really thought I was on my way, despite the angry little characters that would confront me in my sleep or in unaware moments when they would get really close to my ear, and hiss, “We’re still here, and we don’t like this one bit!.” We had started to pull down good money, like the kind you save for a rainy day, when the new manager I hired cleaned out our bank accounts, didn’t pay the workers, and stole all our contacts, and faded to parts unknown with our fortune, if not our fame. “That’s okay,” my mom consoled me. “We’ll build it up all over again!” But before we could, she developed cancer, and died after a valiant struggle.
Fame and fortune ceased to matter so much as I struggled with losing my best friend, personal cheerleader, our family matriarch, and the ringleader of many a fine prank. I wallowed in self-pity for a few years, going through my own physical hell, until I helped to create an online, interactive writing club. My lofty ideals might have eluded me, but together we birthed a large, extended family of women that were always there for each other. I wrote my behind off for our paranormal soap opera, sometimes juggling six characters into the storyline myself, as well as serving as editor. We messaged each other day and night getting our stories right, until toward the end, our storyline men and women were as real as those we knew in real-life. We were talking of opening up our little website to the public, when two unhappy members hacked into our website and wiped it clean. That morning we feverishly plotted our next moves, and that afternoon, we were left with…a blank space. I didn’t look at a computer for months, much less try to write. Fame and fortune? Right!
The next stage of my life involved more traveling, more jobs, only using my writing skills when I had to, and like everyone else, just trying to make a living amid painful belt tightening. By this time my little people were sully and mean, screaming obscenities into my ear at odd moments and stalking off. I snarled back and ignored them.
Enter my adult son, (the same one that hid my book), who thanks to my limitless encouragement, his huge artistic talent, and an failing belief in his own talent as a painter, is on his own fast track to Fame and Fortune. Despite that I am making a decent enough living as a costume/jewelry designer, Nick has decided I am a failure. “You were once somebody!,” he pompously informs me. “You once made a difference. You were a writer! Now you’re nothing.”
I’ve been trying to ignore him. I am doing something creative and making money at the same time. The trouble is, I have a long line of heroes, heroines, and villains, that agree with him in ever adamant caterwauling voice. I find myself agreeing with them. No matter what I might try to tell myself, I am nothing unless I’m writing. With everything that has come before, I’m almost afraid to try this last time. But for better or worse, I don’t think I have a choice!