[cb_profit_poster Lottery1]Clinton, S.C., Friday, August 16, 2013, 11:05 a.m.
Perhaps my view is slightly jaded by present circumstances.
I want to make a living on my own. I’d like for books and songs and my web site to sustain me. Whether that’s realistic remains to be seen. This jury has been out so long, the counselors are starting to worry about a mistrial.
I haven’t had “a job,” at least not one that’s particularly documentable, since early January. I’ve applied for dozens of them – in public relations, teaching, writing, administration – and I seem to fall between the cracks of lacking academic credentials and being hopelessly over-qualified.
I keep having this sensation of needing to shrug my shoulders and say, “Yeah, I used to be famous,” even though that notion is rather debatable. I keep saying “yeah, I can do that” while employers are saying “yeah, but …”
Still I cling to Merle Haggard’s declaration: “I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am.” After all, Merle had to learn some things in “a hobo jungle,” and my residence is much better than that. I haven’t had to hop a freight. (Now that’s an image …)
Sometimes one charts a course. One makes plans and executes them. For instance, that’s how I came to write books in the first place. Way back in the 1980s, I tried to get a novel published and had no success, so to quote Johnny Cash (“One Piece at a Time” was actually written by Wayne Kemp), “I devised myself a plan that would be the envy of most any man …”
First, I thought, I’ll specialize in something. Oh, maybe NASCAR, because I’ve followed it all my life. Then, when I gain some notice, I’ll try to write books about NASCAR. Then, perhaps that will make it possible to write a non-fiction book on another subject. Oh, maybe music. Then I’ll try to get a novel published.
Tah-DAH! It took about 20 years. It was a slow tah-DAH! Maybe, taaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh-DAAAAAAAAAH!
Now the goal is to go from being a guy who wrote a novel to being a … novelist!
My friend Larry Woody used to have a humorous term for the young, enthusiastic novice.
“He was an apple-cheeked lad …”
I’ve got this sinking feeling that most of these available jobs are going to apple-cheeked lads. And lasses, even.
I want to make my own way, but it doesn’t seem like I’ve got much choice in the matter.
In “His Girl Friday,” Cary Grant’s character said, “I should’ve known better than to hire someone with a disease.” My mistake was going into a profession, journalism, that had a disease.
Funny. What I started out writing this morning was something completely different. The introduction turned into a whole section. Now I’m going to have people suggest that I’m gloomy or pessimistic. I’m going to nod and say “thanks for the heartfelt advice,” while, at the same time, thinking to myself, it’s not pessimistic, it’s realistic. It’s nobody’s fault. I did a great job covering NASCAR for 20 years, 16-1/2 of them at one place. They eliminated my job. They farmed out my coverage. They transferred my syndication. It wasn’t personal. It wasn’t even in town. It came from the corporate offices where I knew no one and no one knew me.
Bidness is bidness. I got caught in the crosshairs. I wasn’t even close to the first to fall. I held out longer than most, even. Hardly a week passes in which further casualties don’t mount.
Websites are, however, proliferating, so we got that going for us.
I’ve got this feeling that there is a corner of uncertainty in every soul, thoroughly suppressed by the successful, but still capable of coming to life in trying times.
Some would even call it humility, though it’s well-hidden because the successful know it isn’t functional to confront the possibility that maybe, just maybe, they were lucky to get where they are. If they tell too many people they’re lucky, some of them might start believing it.
A kid finds out he is really adept at playing basketball. One thing leads to another, and all of a sudden he’s making millions. In the back of his mind, behind the bombast and bravura, lies this little voice saying, You can’t fool me. You’re still the same little knucklehead you always were. If that kid blows it, the voice grows stronger. I told you. It’s just like what your daddy said that time you got caught lifting bubblegum in the checkout line.
I think it’s true of the rich kid who takes over the business from his father. It’s true of the hot-shot salesman, the rising politician, the president of the civic club and even the preacher in the pulpit.
On the flip side is the person who doesn’t make it big and become rich and famous. He instead becomes bitter and goes to the other extreme, thinking that he wasn’t lucky but rather unlucky. Or that the world is out to get him. Or that no one will give him an even break.
The trick is not to find oneself in either category. It’s not functional to think that everything one touches turns to gold. Neither does it do any good to blame the world for one’s problems.
The trick is to keep trying. The trick is to fight until hell freezes over, then lay siege on the ice.
If only I weren’t so stubborn. And independent. Is virtue really its own reward? I guess it depends on the measure.
Tom Petty won’t back down. But he’s got plenty of money.
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