Sunday, June 6, 2010

Fifteen minutes and counting article: Good Shabbos, Dad

I listened with anthropologist ears, studying the hunger for fame, colored in fantasies with neon lights and leading roles.  I took notes on NBA dreams, inaugural visions at the White House, and goals of hit songs sung to screaming fans.  I didn’t understand the appeal. I catalogued only the lack of privacy, harsh reviews, scandal, and discontentment.  I saw rampant materialism and shallow ethics. I watched the mob of paparazzi swarm A-list celebrities and grew bored at breaking news alerts from friends who glimpsed a Hollywood darling while buying groceries.

I never dreamt of fame, thinking I was more than satisfied with simple blessings and small joys.  I hoped to find meaningful work, fulfilling friendships, and a corner to call my own. I rolled my eyes at fancy cars and designer clothes.  I didn’t want the obligatory social events, as my idea of hell is loosely based on cocktail party small talk.

Until I woke up this morning and saw my name in print. 

Apparently, I am a fair-weathered critic, gladly welcoming fame the moment my invitation arrived. There’s something uniquely thrilling about seeing my article published, my byline at the top of the page. More than anything, it becomes a stamp of approval, a validating ticket into the world of “real writers”.

I know, I know.  I am a writer whether I am paid to write or not.  I am a writer because I write.  Period.  But as a writer, I secretly hope engage readers.  I dream of composing pages that become dog-eared, highlighted, and passed along to friends as words that hint at some truth. My fantasy involves my writing perched on the “New Arrivals” shelf at the library, or hearing from a reader who awakes bleary eyed, having been unable to put the book down before turning out the light.

And so my fifteen minutes begin.

As much as I'm enjoying this moment, there’s a deeper thrill, and it has everything to do with the flurry of messages originating in Paradise Valley.  I have often been the topic of conversations between relatives and family friends. Usually, it is related to crises, wild fire alerts of disaster and sickness. I made a name for myself based on falling, and have squandered my past minutes of fame on misery. I am unaccustomed to this publicity network of joy.  I am illiterate in the verses of pride, the email relays boasting sips of success and the generous replies spilling with praise.  The flutter of being published ranks second to my grin as I savor each email, cherishing being the subject line due to strength rather than heartache.

I don’t write with hopes of fame or fortune. I don’t write because I know all of the answers or have solved universal mysteries. I write to learn. I write to understand my world, to understand myself. I write to pass hours in the day, a self-imposed time out from to-do lists and worrying. I write the craziness so maybe I can find the sane. I write because I can’t cure her no matter how hard I try, and I write to save myself. I write with hopes of finding the answers, and I write to discover the questions that I need to live.

 “A Bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song”
-       Ann Hood, The Red Thread

I write because I am a girl who has a song to sing.

I didn’t go digging for fame, but I am enjoying this small taste. My t-shirt-clad success is locally grown, absent of riches, mobs of adoring fans, or publishing offers stuffed in my mailbox. But for a girl who dreamt no farther than her backyard, today I feel like a queen. 

So I slip on my crown and bask in the moment.  I relish my joy as I smile pretty and wave.  I write to sing my song, and along the way I plan to enjoy these fifteen minutes.

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