Sunday, September 21, 2014

Appreciated in My Own Time

By Jodie Cain Smith

Sylvia Plath, Margaret Mitchell, J.D. Salinger, Emily Bronte, and Jodie Cain Smith? Lord, I pray not!

I know, I know. I needn’t worry that I will ever be compared to the likes of the literary greats listed above, but for once in my life, I can honestly say, “I don’t want to be among the best.” At least not among BuzzFeed’s list of the greatest literary one hit wonders. Most of the authors on the list lived a tragic life with an untimely end of which I have no interest in imitating. And most weren’t appreciated at all until after that untimely end. What’s the point of that?

Sure, I would love to have the intellect or raw talent to craft the next great masterpiece, but I am far too self aware to spend too much time on that fantasy. I’m also sane, as sane as a fiction writer can be and still make up stories. I do not wish to live as a hermit, alone with my thoughts, until my solitary confinement whittles away my fragile mind allowing for genius to bloom on the page. It sure seems like losing your mind is a prerequisite to creating a read-in-every-high-school-across-America classic. And I like being able to function in society.

If I were being honest, I would gladly walk away from a heaping pile of literary brilliance for one helping of “loved in my own time.” Yes, I said it. I want to be read now. I want countless novels with my name on them enjoyed poolside and on commuter trains. I want to be read in airport lounges and debated at suburban book clubs over cheap chardonnay. I want to answer inane questions from Today Show reporters, but then fade back into the crowd outside Rockefeller Center, never to be recognized on the street.

Simply put, I want to pay my rent doing what I love: creating and telling stories. When I told my first original story, back in 2003, I did not tell it in order to create higher art or for glory or to win a Pulitzer. I told the story, one of a young bride facing separation from her husband due to war, because I needed my message to be heard right then. I had to tell my corner of the world, and anyone else who would listen, my story. And I was desperate for someone to value my story-telling ability with a check. The check didn’t need to be fat. It just had to have my name on it.

You may scoff at such simple and seemingly petty dreams, but there they are, what I really want out of my writing: to tell my stories, to be paid for my abilities, and for my messages, whatever they may be, to be discussed. I want to tell all of my stories, not just one. Yes, I want to be appreciated right here, right now, long before I am dead.

1 comment:

Len Lawson said...

I hear you, Jodie. I'm always ready to pull the trigger and walk away from this gift of writing until something will happen like having a story about the loss of my father accepted into an anthology. This writer's life is a marathon, though, not a sprint; we won't know the true fruits of our labors until we finish the race. If we keep writing, then everything else will fall into place.