Rookie! Rookie! Rookie!
Probably no one’s going to say it out loud but no doubt they’ll be running it over their tongues, this cutthroat confederacy of Litfest vets whose shark tank I’m about to enter.
Was on a sailboat when word came. Day 43, everything going fine. Blue skies over the coast of British Columbia, humpback whales bubble-netting some kind of finger-sized fish all around us. Using their breath as a net. You’re invited to Toronto. Come read out loud. Juno, Jian, M.G. (what do the initials stand for anyway—right, I should know. Rookie.), Alice, Adrienne, Louise—all kinds of grand dukes and duchesses. All gonna be there. Big network. I’ll fit right in, was my first thought. Well not actually. When in doubt of your capacity to measure up, vilify. Yes they seem wise, compassionate, clever and fun as hell to be around, on paper. It’s called Voice. In person they maintain a permanent mental crouch, are constantly prepared to pounce on an upstart Rookie at his very first um with a devastating loquacity that can only be meant to expose its lack in others. How did it come to this?
Started writing poems when I was eight. Bad poems! Parents called them wonderful, kept writing. Got tired of poems and starting writing stories. Bad stories! Teachers called them wonderful, kept writing. Got tired of stories, tried to write a novel. Bad novel! Kept it to myself, kept writing. Got tired of making things up and tried journalism. Mediocre journalism. Better than previous genres. Kept writing. Tried traveling, too. Editors became parents and teachers. Went to South America, wrote a— travelogue, mostly. Just hit the shelves. Who knows what they’ll say. Probably something like, keep writing.