I’ve had a sleepless night, wondering whether it matters whether I blog or not. I’ve sixty-two followers for this blog and I wonder how many actually read it. I know my eldest daughter was the first to follow my blog, out support for me, but has never read it. My wife has read only one post and now follows it, but she literally has too full of a life to read any more.
Is that all there is, sixty-one one-time readers and one supporter who has never read it because she doesn’t find anything I have to say worthwhile? Pretty sad and dismal, isn’t it?
It seems to be my lot in life, not to be recognized as having anything of value for humanity other than as a worker of mundane tasks. I mean, I’m thanked for mowing lawns and pruning trees and shrubs (sometimes). I’m thanked for running errands. Sometimes I’m thanked for random acts of kindness
And truth to be told, I do all that mowing and pruning and gardening, all those errands and random acts of kindness out of love and kindness, not for praise or gratitude. But the gratitude is nice. It’s an act of kindness offered back, a gift well accepted and received.
But I am an intelligent human being and I have a lot more to offer than just physical labor. I’ve spent thirty years of my life writing for newspapers and writing books, with little recognition and even lesser pay. I’ve been ignored and bypassed and even forgotten. And rejected.
My first job, after three years of college, was as a sports photographer for a newspaper. I was given a lab assistant, even though I wanted to do my own lab work and was quite capable at it, and sent out to cover sports. This was in the days long before digital photography, when you shot film. What I didn’t know was that my lab assistant wanted my job so badly that she threw away my exposed film, processed unexposed film, which came out clear, without images, and gave it to my editors.
After two weeks, I figured out what was going on and took my most recent film to an independent lab, which I paid to process it. But the damage had been done. My editors thought I was a fraud and fired me. My lab assistant got my job. She gave me the finger and went on to a brilliant career. My former editors didn’t even pay me. But they did black-ball me, making it impossible for me to get any work with any print media.
The worst part is, after being black-balled, my editors never told me. I spent years trying to get work with the news media, not knowing why I was rejected. I don’t hold any resentments against those editors or my former assistant. I don’t believe in holding grudges. At least, not for long. I am human, after all.
But I am disappointed that my assistant lived by the rule of “Win by any means, even if it destroys someone else. Your life is the only one that matters.” I’ve come across too many who think that way in my life.
Sometime later, I came across an editor who didn’t care about my past. He needed news stories and I was willing to provide them for him and so he hired me. This came after I returned to college to learn how to be a better writer and reporter.
However, even then people didn’t see me. In general, they ignored me. Others were credited for things that I did.
I live in a small town in Northern California. With few exceptions, people see me as the son of my parents, the nephew of my uncle, the cousin of my cousins, the brother of my brother. And few people have read anything that I’ve written, especially in my own family.
My mother bought my first novel and wanted me to write a second. And while I was working on the new one, she passed on. One of my brother-in-laws bought my novel and loved it so much he couldn’t stop talking about it with me, But he never talked with anyone else about it. And he’s since forgotten about my writing.
None of of my siblings have read anything of mine. I think they don’t want to have to tell how terrible a writer I am. So they don’t want to take the chance that I might actually be good at it.
Likewise, only one of my friends ever bought anything of mine. He praised my creativity, but he’s not really interested in fiction. However, he did read it.
I love my friends and my friends love me. But I think all the others, especially those who read the kind of fiction I write, don’t want to have to tell me I stink.
None of my nieces and nephews, most of whom are adults, have read anything of mine, even though when I tell them about my stories they seem interested and comment that they want to buy my stories.
A fellow writer has bought one of my novels out of support but has told me that it’s too long for him. He only reads works of 30,000 words or shorter. And those are the lengths of his novels.
It’s ironic that one of my nieces published an article in the same newsletter that I published one in and yet no one in my family, not even my mother, who was still alive back then, even noticed that I was also published in that same volume. How is that even possible?
Even my children, all adults, don’t read my work. My eldest daughter has told me that I don’t have anything worthwhile to say so why should she waste her time reading my writing? However, my wife reads my stories, even the occasional ones that do stink.
And maybe I am a hack. Maybe I don’t have anything worthwhile to say. Maybe no one will read this post. It won’t surprise me.
So, why do I keep writing? For the same reason my dad kept farming for 97 years. Yes, 97 years! Ninety-seven and one half, to be exact.
Hope. That’s why I write.
It’s said that “Hope springs eternal.” I don’t know about that. But I do know that without hope, you die. If not literally, at least inside.
See you out there.
If you see me.