There was a new columnist in my local paper this morning. And he was good. Really good. I actually laughed right out loud. I didn’t want to like his column, but I just couldn’t help myself.
Now, you may wonder why I didn’t want to like his column. Only because I’ve been turned down twice now as a columnist for that newspaper. Apparently they don’t like my style. Or my subject matter. Or just me.
As I was reading today’s new columnist I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps it’s best if I just give up my dream of ever becoming a paid writer. Because, here’s the thing -- for every genre that I aspire to write, there’s already someone else writing it. And often writing it better than I could.
I spent a little time today in Park City strolling along old Main Street. I stopped in at a handful of art galleries and oogled the art. Beautiful paintings, quirky sculptures, dazzling detail – some of it beyond words of description. I examined a few pieces up close. My mind whirled thinking about the time behind each brushstroke, each color. A part of me even wanted to be an artist, wanted to capture beauty to share with an appreciative audience.
Back at home, I picked raspberries. While wading through green prickly branches for perfectly ripe fruit, my mind wandered. I thought about the art I’d seen and wondered what I’d buy if money weren’t a consideration. Then I began thinking about the people who could afford to purchase art. Actually, I had to use my imagination, as I don’t actually know many people who own or collect fine art.
That little nugget of noodling led me to contemplate people I do know. Family. As the berries in my bucket began accumulating, I acknowledged my roots. Teachers. Farmers. Quilters. Homemakers. I come from what I like to call Pioneer Stock.
I thought about my grandmas, great and great-great, and the berries they must have picked, the garden produce they must have canned. They didn’t have the means to purchase fine art or the time to create it. Instead, they spent their time working to care for their families. The artifacts they left behind run along utilitarian lines: a worn and faded double wedding ring quilt, an old potato masher with a well-used wooden handle, a mason jar lifter with calcium deposits on the metal from years of removing canned produce from hard water.
And now, back to how all this relates to my dreams for recognition. Yipes. That is exactly the word that describes what I seem always to be looking for . . . RECOGNITION.
I guess I used to get it through good grades, through academic achievement. And that’s probably why writing a self-syndicated column from 1997 to 2000 helped to keep my emotional boat afloat. I was getting a little recognition in the form of reader feedback and small but concrete paychecks.
There is something in my personality that craves, maybe even needs recognition. Is that weird?
I’m left wondering if I’ll forever be part of an appreciative audience and never the performer. Are other performers driven to seek the limelight?
Switching gears now, stay with me.
Ways that I currently get recognition:
Being a witch at the Pumpkin Walk and cackling. (Bless the Burt kids. They never tire of hearing me cackle. )
Teaching Sunday school.
Hmmmm. I guess that’s about it. But are there other ways I can “perform” and get my recognition fix?
Yeah. I’m volunteering to help the student council at Loula Belle’s middle school. When I’m goofy with the kids and they respond, that feels good. And writing the skits they’ll do for “Character Counts” might fit the bill too. And maybe I could tell my hubby and kids that I have unfulfilled performance yearnings. Maybe they’d consent to being an appreciative audience. Hey, even just being an attentive audience would be fine. (Better than the eye rolls that I currently get.)
And what about the retirement home where my grandma lives? Maybe I could play the piano for them to sing along with. I probably can’t commit to doing it every week, but how about once a month? Or every-other month?