The Octogenarian: A Writer’s Woes

I am going to explain in this column some of the things a writer must go through in pursuit of the field of writing for public consumption.

For instance, I have in my time submitted manuscripts to publishers and I was even once told that a submission needed 10,000 more words to be acceptable as a published book. On another occasion from another publishing agent, I was told to trim a submission down by about 2,000 words. The comedy of this is that both pieces of advice were about the same book.

Then there are the editors. Thirty-two years ago, I submitted my first article for publication to, as it turned out, the toughest, meanest editor with whom I would ever work. I believe I only submitted one article to her that she did not edit to my displeasure.  She even edited the captions on my photographs and once even a photo itself.

The unedited article was one where I photographed and wrote about her having an MRI.  I was able to get pictures of the color brain scans coming up on the series of screens in the control room while showing her, my editor, on the gurney with her head inside the mechanism taking the pictures of her brain as she clutched a favorite stuffed animal in her arms.  I ended the article by informing my readers that I was shocked by the proof that editors had brains but still saw no evidence that they had hearts. She printed that one as written.

I thought I found a way to get even with that editor, but nine years after she edited my first story, I married her. Of course, I still couldn’t win, she is still editing (and mostly correcting) everything I do and now, I would not change a thing.

And now, we get to the reason for this article. I owe an apology to a number of students on this campus. Although I never reveal my writings in advance of their publication as there would be no reason to read them, but last week, I promised a topic to be published in the October 28 issue of this paper. It did not get published and it is my fault.  It was one of my Potpourri articles, meaning it was in three parts.  Part one, I apologize to the eight or nine students and the one professor who thought I should become an advocate for not answering your request. In the third part of the article, I only interviewed two other students on campus and I guess our little inconveniences will not be addressed.

But, my real apology goes out to the more than three dozen students with whom I held interviews and discussed the general topic. The funniest part of this is that, of the 38 students with whom I discussed my idea for a satire, only two ever read the paper anyway but this issue they picked up based on my erroneous message that the article was about them. I naively thought we might have a chance to pick up a new readership.

What happened was that despite being told by one of the people in charge of our paper on the Friday that I submitted this article, that the students were in charge and had a history of writing what they want, I was censored, completely, for the first time in 32 years.  My first reaction, knee-jerk, was extreme anger, but at my age and with my experience, that only lasted for about three seconds. Then I realized that in the game of life, this little incident is only a ripple made by a small bug landing on the water. Still having no guidelines by which to submit my thoughts and ideas and getting some pleasure from the reaction I get from you, my readers, on and off campus, I will continue to share my thoughts and ideas with you.

And besides, if I am allowed to continue, I can’t afford to give up the big bucks I get for performing this work.

See you guys next Tuesday (I think).

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