I submitted my third article to an editor on Sunday. My wife, Becky, read it and thought it was just okay. So when Monday came and went without a response, I worried that the editor agreed with her.
I hate waiting. I spent a lot of yesterday checking my email every 20 minutes or so. I get so unproductive – it’s silly. To use Becky’s phrase, when I get a bee in my bonnet, there’s no getting rid of it. I know the smart thing is to just get on with life and write something else, but for some reason, I find that really hard. Oh well…
I recently came across this poem, A Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes:
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
I’m not really into poetry, mainly because I often just don’t get it. I really like this one though. Apparently, it’s (South Africa’s president) Thabo Mbeki’s favourite. I know I’m blowing things a little out of proportion, but waiting to find out the fate of that article, the poem grew in meaning for me.
I’ve had another article published and I’ve got a semi-regular thing going with one of the national papers. It’s amazing how as soon as you get to one summit you suddenly start to see others instead of taking time out to celebrate!
Why aren’t I celebrating? So far I’ve made a couple of hundred Euros in about 4 weeks. I need to start using the articles I’ve had published to get more work. As things stand, I can’t make a living. That said, I’ve made money doing what I want to do. If nothing else, it shows there’s potential for me to make a living writing. I had planned to give myself 6 months to come up with a tangible plan. Based on what I’m spending and what my wife and I need to cover bills, I need to be earning at least six times what I’m earning now by about July. I guess that’s the challenge.
Now, the ‘work’ part begins. I need to call people who I think may have a story to tell and interview them. I need to get in touch with as many editors as I can and try to sell myself. I’m even planning a trip out to Sierra Leone – a friend knows a government minister there. It all sounds great, so why am I terrified?
I got my first article published… in a national paper!
It’s such a weird feeling! On the hand, I was so excited last night, I couldn’t wait to get up and buy the paper. When I opened it up and saw my name there, in bold no less, I was deflated! Even now, I feel lethargic. I feel exposed, naked and I can’t take the piece back. I feel committed, like my fate is out of my hands. What if some psychopath takes offense at what I wrote and hunts me down?
The last time I felt like this was after I proposed to my then girlfriend (now wife) and she said yes! She was so excited and the happier she got, the darker the cloud over me grew. It was one of the worst days of my life. Again, I felt trapped and as though I was no longer in control of my destiny. And it’s not as though I didn’t want to marry her. I knew she was the one, I knew I wanted to marry her, and I hadn’t been under any pressure to propose. All the same, the fear! Fortunately, I felt great at our wedding!
But back to this issue, I got what I wanted and had something I wrote printed in a newspaper. I don’t know if the article is any good. I know I liked it a lot more before it was published. I wonder if it’s always going to be like this.
Who knows, next time I might even get paid. When that happens, I’ll start calling myself freelance/independent writer/journalist. Or maybe I’ll just stick to Tsuro.