I am a starter. I get a notion and I burn bright, maybe not well, but hot and bright until I have done a thing, but invariably, I get into the sort of thing that requires a long-term commitment. Only I am the hare, an exciting burst, as I, the untrained runner, am a bit surprised every time, even I, can jump out to do a thing.
I laugh at my critics because I love the philosophy that the doers can ignore the critics. The critics are almost always spectators. In all my life, I have gotten little but encouragement from fellow doers.
I don’t know if they are blind to my failings, just so excited there is another doer in the world, or what exactly. I remember I first started publishing a literary paper, and back then, it was a paper, 10,000 copies hand delivered to 200 venues in three counties. A paper that I published, at first single-handedly, on the side, while I worked a 40 plus hour week and raised a family.
On the side, I sold the ads. I did the layout. I wrote the articles. One Friday per month, after working straight through Thursday night to finish, I would shower, drink some coffee and I take the pasted-up pages and later a digital copy, as back up, to a newsprint facility at a daily newspaper in Winter Haven, FL. Winter Haven was a little over a two hour drive and I would arrive at 80 am, and wait until about noon and take my beloved freshly printed thousands of papers bundled and stacked neatly in the back of my old Nissan pick-up with a camper top. I would drive home, deliver about 1000 copies to a few of the spots that went through the most copies, then I would sleep until daylight and hit the road, dropping 25-100 copies at libraries, museums, bars, restaurants, theaters and other creative spaces.
After 7 years I traded it all in on a used bookstore which I promptly lost all the money I had within about 6 months, closed up and went back to not making a commitment to anyone by my family and my day job. I had a poet friend who complained bitterly when I published her poem and chopped it up with line breaks to fit the space instead of as she had intended.
I asked her if she would have rather I hadn’t published it, and she said she would have rather not published as to have it published wrong. I was hurt for a minute, then I decided she was nuts. People loved my paper. I brought a level of culture to a place lacking in it. A few years later, I met my wife, and she worked with me about two issues and got fed up with my “way.” I just has the hardest time believing most people were as particular about layout and spelling and punctuation. She assured me they were.
I loved being the King of Martin County, even if no one else knew I was king. But after 2002, when I stopped printing, and stopped being, I didn’t miss it, much. I have no idea if anyone missed me or the paper.
King of Martin County
It’s my favorite moment
It’s why I do what I do
The paper is printed and loaded
It’s eight o’clock on Saturday morning
And for the next hour or so
I feel like the King of Martin County.
While my subjects are still asleep
In the quiet empty streets
I drive from shop to shop
Leaving bundles of Abundance
Awaiting eager eyes.
The late nights and the lack of funds
Become distant memories.
And for an hour or so,
This two-bit construction worker
Feels like the King of Martin County.
Then 14 years later, I get the itch again. Not sure why. Well, the demise of Shelfari gave me a push. I was looking for a way to rebuild a group I had founded and which was created by dozens of very clever and intelligent people who contributed frequently and thousands who dropped by and read or commented now and then.
Now we have a website, now we have thousands who drop by, and a staff of amazing editors. This month, we have another incredible subject for our BTS interview. I feel like we are becoming “legit,” as the kids say (I know because even though I am old, I have a 12 year-old).
Now the only question that remains, has this hare lived his useful purpose? Or out lived it? I am still enjoying the process, and my role in it, but I wonder if the crew here assembled deserves a better leader? I am not asking this to get reassurances, as nobody, or nearly nobody responds to my posts, anyway, but just wondering aloud, as I draw for the 11th time, is my well running dry? Is it time for the “two-bit construction worker” to quit pretending to be a literary sort, a publisher, no less?
If not, will I ever develop a voice to say something meaningful and useful and more or less on topic, whatever the topic is? Poetry? Literature? Or whatever slow moving thought wanders carelessly through the library of my mind?
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!