THIS THING CALLED WRITING
To tell the story of ourselves to ourselves.
To play God.
To make the story come out the way we would rather have it rather than the way it was.
To have something you can do in your underwear and without having to shave.
To stop the voices in our heads.
Those are all fictions we tell ourselves. We write because we want to see our names in print, to have a chance to have our ideas be impressed on the public, to have someone pat us on the back and say “Good show, old bean. Jolly, jolly good show.” To have an effect.
Almost 30 years ago, we moved to the Lower East Side, New York’s nursery of what would become cool for the rest of the city. Eventually.
My wife immediately got a part in an off-off-off Broadway play. Our local paper, New York Press, welcomed first-person articles. I sent in a lurid, but 100% true, tale of a visit to Plato’s Retreat, the world’s premiere swing club. And I got back a check for $75. Melody continued in the arts and music scenes; I had a beginner’s luck with the first story and it was another 30 years before I got paid for something I wrote. I did have quite a little collection of letters to the editor published in the New York Times and the Washington Post. Methadone to the heroin of pro-writing. One of my letters was reprinted in the International Herald Tribune and the Jerusalem Post on the day of Yitzchak Rabin’s memorial. Our phone was ringing off the hook from Israel. That’s the power of being a writer. Melody caught the writing bug, HuffPost blogger, music reviewer, stories picked up in anthologies. She went back to school to get an MFA and work on two books she was writing. I had a research paper, a scientific and mathematical exegesis of the Book of Genesis. It was a book no one wanted to know about. Academics didn’t want there to be anything actually scientific in the bible. Religious people as well did not want the bible to be anything but what it was already. Melody and our friends convinced me to do a Dan Brown and put the material in a novel. But we both swore that neither of us would ever self-publish.
In 2017, Mel dragged me along to the AWP conference in D.C. I brought along 30 pages, all I had at the time. It was called Scapegoats, starring the goats from the book of Leviticus. I looked at each and every one of the 1200 exhibitor tables until I found Golden Fleece Press, two ladies that published animal books and science fiction books. And there I was with a sci-fi novel about biblical animals. At least, the first 30 pages of one! I handed over the envelope. By the time we got back to New York, I got an email that said “We want more goats!”
In September 2018, I got my first royalty payment. We used it to rescue a dog out of kill shelter and had a sushi dinner. I’m still emerging as a writer, the book never got much traction, but I can always say I made it to the big leagues.
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SCAPEGOATS: The Goat Protocols is available print/Kindle from Amazon.