We all want to be brilliant our first time up at bat, but we’re rookies, even if we’ve already made it to the show catching a glimpse of what it’s like to be a respected, read and popular author.
Why am I talking in baseball terms? Haven’t a clue. Just watched a little Field of Dreams so maybe that’s it…if you write it, they will come.
I was working on a piece I planned on pitching to New York Magazine, a passionate three-ply idea I couldn’t let go of. It was about a well-known woman I worked for in the 90s so wanting to bring back to life after going past her gutted double townhouse remembering what a colossal empire she and her husband owned, one I spent many hours in. To see it leveled like Pompeii brought out the archivist in me, not to mention the dreamer.
I even contacted an editor I know who said, “Before you go to all this trouble, make sure the magazine is interested,” never occurring to me they wouldn’t be.
I then engaged a brilliant friend as a sounding board hoping to come up with that magic pitch that would glean me publication along with a nice tidy fee.
After settling into my fantasy, I reread my 40th draft as though I were drunk when reading the first 39. It was awful. It hit me, who the hell gives a damn about a woman dying in 1997 married to a porn master also long deceased from your point of view?
In hindsight I can blame this whole thing on steroid induced hubris. I mean who the fuck am I?
If you were David Sedaris with a happy-go-lucky following maybe pages would turn, but sadly Susannah, your platform is no bigger than an anthill.
But that wasn’t even the issue. The issue was the piece itself. I held back in spots not wanting to be a wag considering all I know. I liked this woman who already many times over has been ridiculed and raked over the Manhattan gossip coals.
If nothing else, I know, if you’re going to hold back, cash in your chips because people will smell it. Anybody you submit to with half a brain will say, where’s the pulp here? This won’t sell at half throttle. You know what sells…truth, even if it’s dark and smutty and either you give it to me straight or stop wasting my time.
Yes, it’s when those lights go on at 2 in the morning and you realize you have nothing truly salable except maybe your ego you might consider willing to science.
It’s okay to write badly, the healthy part of me knows this. A writer once told me, anything you pen is an annuity because it gets you from A to B to eventually where you’re truly meant to be.
I can’t deny it’s a letdown when your passion folds like a pup tent, but the good news is, there’s always a blank page beckoning to boldly begin again.