This week's question has tongue firmly in cheek: "How long did it take for you to become an overnight sensation?"
In a recent interview with The Digest Enthusiast (such a fine publication; check it out here), I was asked a question about when I first started writing, and I reached way back to elementary school to answer it. Here was my response:
There once live a man
By the name of Belon,
Who was swindled by
A most masterful con....
So to match that question from The Digest Enthusiast with the question at hand here on Criminal Minds, I'd need to reach back to when I was, what, 8 years old? somewhere in there?
Should I pick a date that year and start counting?
Maybe. But there might also be other milestones to start from—my first publication as part of a county-wide elementary school contest, my first publication in a high school literary journal or my first serious writing workshop in high school, my debut in Ellery Queen's Department of First Stories, or my decision to enter a graduate school writing program. When did I become serious about this writing thing?
Even harder to pinpoint would be that notion of success, even without the "overnight" caveat. I'm very grateful for my track record of short story publications and with all the award attention I've received, of course, but maybe in following some of those Grammy guidelines, I could point to the publication of On the Road with Del & Louise last fall as a debut on a bigger stage: September 15, 2015.
OK, now can I start counting? somewhere in there?
Truth is, regarding success, I still feel like I'm stumbling toward some notion of it. Each day's writing lately sometimes feels like learning to write all over again—puzzling out which word might be best next, and then next, and then next. Day in, day out, writing for me feels more like struggle than success, no doubt about it.
I am, of course, and told him so—and he explained that he'd heard me read from On the Road at the Conversations and Connections conference hosted by Barrelhouse back in the spring. He'd enjoyed my reading and my book.
I asked about his own writing, how it was going—asked if he lived nearby, but he didn't. It turned out he had driven out from DC to have some work done on his car, was having lunch while he waited. I asked if he had a card, but he didn't, and I tried to look for one myself—in vain and awkwardly since I still had all those napkins in my hand. Neither of us had a pen handy to exchange information. I ended up telling him thanks and good luck with his own work.
Thinking back on it, there it was—there alongside a couple of big containers of tea and a napkin dispenser and an array of silverware while I waited for some pimento cheese: On Tuesday, July 12, 2016, someone I didn't know recognized me in public, said he liked something I'd written.
Honestly, could you ask for any better success?