following essay was originally sketched out back in December of
2003. It is being presented here as a From the Backpack special,
haven’t been able to track down any records showing it was posted
on the In
My Backpack web site, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find
out that it was. On a few occasions there have been some changes
and updates made around The ‘ville. Some involved computer issues,
some general redesigns and overhauls. The end result has been
that a few pieces—intentionally and unintentionally—were once
posted and are not today.
last notes I can find for dates list the most recent version before
this, effectively the final draft version, as being saved on December
have gone over the material from that older draft and re-written
a large portion of it for this posting.
~ ~ ~ ~
have a confession to make.
put the cart before the horse. (Maybe.)
way, way before the horse. (Maybe. This needs a bit of thought.)
you’re visiting my web site… which to read this particular essay,
you would need to have done… then you may know that I have visions
of being a writer. Not just a productive writer. But a supporting
myself and my family on profits from my writing writer.
despite the odds of writing profits supporting a household to
begin with, it appears for some unexpected reasons I have evidently
been doing it wrong.
I limited my markets. Nothing tremendously wrong with that I suppose.
Lots of people have been successful with narrowed pathways to
the destination. But my rationale has definitely been misguided.
(Umm… yeah… maybe.)
seven years ago I was on a short trip with my family. The older
stepson is very talented when it comes to art. His mother had
him flip over his placemat and draw a character he had created.
I agreed with the thought the drawing was great. So, I developed
this huge background story for him. We created three friends,
gave them names, and a place to live. Things to do. Other books
to follow. Dreams of movie rights, television show, plush toys.
All sold for millions, resulting in a trip for me to retirement
and an eventual appearance on the People magazine “where
are they now” list. The whole smear.
we had developed this story though, I immediately adjusted my
thinking about some of my other writing. I mean, could I really
become the author of a best-selling children’s series if I was
producing articles for Playboy? I’m not saying anything
about the magazine itself. I’m not saying I’m talented enough
to produce material they would consider publishing. Heck, I’m
not saying I was even working on any material to send their way.
Because I wasn’t. It’s a symbolic stand-in for the essay. In this
case, I’m drawing a comparison for producing material for children
as opposed to producing material to be viewed after looking at
the centerfold. Opposite ends of the spectrum, so to speak.
yet, it seems entirely likely that society wouldn’t even blink.
And that yawn of a connection seems to be getting less difficult
to navigate every day.
released a book about ten years ago called Sex. Typical
Madonna mega-frenzy event. Today, she is writing children’s books.
Murphy was, during the early and mid-eighties, one of the most
adult-themed performers working in mainstream entertainment related
efforts such as movies or television. To my recollection, his
albums of live performance material are the last of the major-selling
comedy recordings. Every other word back then for Murphy was four-letters
long. Today he is working on Shrek 2, has The Haunted
Mansion in theaters, and since 1999 his films have included
Mulan, Shrek, Dr. Doolittle, Dr.
Doolittle 2, and Daddy Day-Care.
are written, interviews are conducted, and people in general at
most crack a wry smile or shake their head at what used to be.
you, I’m not saying anything is wrong with any of this. What I
am saying is that it has been a learning experience.
I wrong in my initial reaction? No, I don’t think so. Look at
Monica Lewinsky. Recently I read an article in which she mentioned
how difficult it has been for her to have a regular social life
since certain events of her past became front page news. And to
that I say, of course it’s difficult. How can you go through the
experiences she went through… the media crush, the notoriety,
the circumstances involved… and not have your social life forever
back to the initial question… how can you produce material for
a specific publication (such as an adult magazine), and then not
have that be a part of how you are viewed as you begin producing
material in other areas (such as children’s literature)? And by
viewed, we of course mean judged.
the answer is… you can’t. And you especially can’t if you want
to be successful both times. Because you need the association
to be a part of it because you need people to be aware of the
material you are producing. In short, from your side of the situation
you want people to buy both.
was reading an interview with Penn Jillette a few weeks ago. I
don’t recall the exact quote, or even the exact question for that
matter. But Penn essentially pointed out that you don’t need to
reach that many people to be an overwhelming success. With hundreds
of millions of people living in the United States alone, just
finding 1% of the people agree with you in some fashion can provide
a tremendous following.
so, it is that perhaps I’ll package up that query letter for Playboy
after all. There are some people that occasionally do read the
articles. And whether or not they later buy my new novel or a
children’s book I work on, perhaps they’ll remember my name.