I'm not going to pretend it wouldn't be great if an editor, publisher or producer believed in my work and offered to pay me a ton of money for it. But that's a longshot for most artists, musicians or writers. In the meantime we create our stories, songs and paintings for ourselves and our small circle of fans and hope it's worthy of their attention.
I've loved writing since high school. I was inspired by my 11th grade English teacher at Central High in Philadelphia, Mr. Barsky, who encouraged creativity and, most of all, writing about what you know. I was also inspired by my 10th grade English teacher, Mr. Corasick, who was a crotchety old bastard stuck in the past BUT believed a writer should be occupied with the search for truth. That's a particularly good mission, especially in the age of Donald Trump.
I became a journalist because I knew I would write a lot. Writing for TV news means writing short and sweet, all the time. It was actually excellent training for writing longer stories because it forces me to think about a beginning, middle and end and keep the focus on the story. Good journalism is a high goal in America and it's unAmerican that our president attempts to hijack the role of journalism to make it into his personal propaganda tool. For this reason, it's more important than ever that we champion journalism in high school and college and encourage young journalists to seek the truth and not to fear writing it.
Here in my writing after-life, very little has changed. Truth in a news release is as important as truth in a novel. The hardest truth to get at is the truth about yourself. Prying open our own layers of self-deception and false assumptions is painful, almost impossible. But a successful self-examination will inevitably lead to a successful expression of truth. That's what Mr. Corasick taught me.
Here in the land of the vanity press, truth is fleeting because we're all so pleased with ourselves now that we're "published." I don't want to bash my fellow indie authors, but with all the books out there--an estimated 1.8 million printed books on Amazon alone--they can't all be good. I'm not even sure my own works are good. Even the best editor might not be able to draw out your truth (if I can ever afford an editor, I'll let you know). But you can't ever stop looking for it and making even lame attempts at getting it into words. Ultimately, that separates us from the animals and keeps the Trumps of the world from turning the search for truth into an affirmation of despotism.