June 29th, 2016
(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I do not recall the exact moment, but I do remember the awkward conversations during the most self-doubting times. There was, for instance, the dinner party where my friend, the hostess, seated me beside a Pulitzer Prize-winning author as if we had something in common. I had recently finished the first draft of a novel, and on my desktop floated the files of a dozen or so essays that were in the process of being ignored by the legions of editors who received them in their inbox. I was 49 years old.
“You’re both writers!” my well-meaning friend said, her enthusiasm no salve for the mortification I was certain awaited me when the famous author lobbed me the inevitable question.
“So what do you do?” he asked before the appetizer even arrived.
Up until that point, I had answered that question in terms of what I used to do: I worked in television news, produced for Barbara Walters, had a career in broadcast journalism and, later, Internet media. Now, I was embarrassed to utter what I was working frenziedly in hopes of becoming — to some extent, him.
“I’m a substitute French teacher,” I said. Not exactly a lie, but an obfuscation. I’d yet to figure out how to officially admit myself to a profession where, unlike medicine, hairdressing, law, nanoscience, teaching, or carpentry, there was no real barrier to entry. Anyone could declare herself a writer. Opportunity was just one click away, since the algorithms read my web searches and, it seemed, my mind. “Get published!” flashed my computer screen, as if it were as simple as booking a cheap flight to Chicago.