Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Our train rode the fast track back in the day, but signal problems developed along the line. The passengers are not amused.
In my lifetime, I've written five full books, chapters for dozens of encyclopedias, and countless entries for one of the best-known reference series in America. At one time I faithfully produced 500,000 words of copy a year. Year after year after year.
For those of you who don't know word counts, that total makes Shelby Foote look like a slacker.
When the old Amtrak Annie was chugging along, I was the first in my office environment to use a word processor to generate copy. I was the first independent contracter to buy and operate a computer to complete my work.
I dumped 20,000 words of encyclopedia entries in the U.S. mail, went home, had a baby, and went back to work 3 days later, generating another 20,000 words of copy during the first month of my daughter The Heir's life.
I lugged Baby Spare to the library, where she stared out at the microfilm machines with her big blue eyes. The staff called her the "library baby."
Does anyone remember when ESPN had all those little "Classic Moments of Sports" on t.v. at the turn of the millennium? There were 1000 of those. I researched 250 of them and wrote all 1000. Sometimes 15 in a day on tight deadline. One Sunday morning they sent a personal courier all the way from Westport, CT to South Jersey with film that needed narrative. That very day, not Monday.
In the summer of 2004 the signal changed. Amtrak Annie got sent to the pits instead of to Pittsburgh.
Today I reached into the deepest recesses of my memory and taught my first lesson in touch typing to two classes of 40 freshmen.
I'm making the same amount of money today that I did in 1990. I am working as a substitute teacher.
If someone knows how to flip the signal that will make me a writer again, please do it! I'm not a bad teacher. The kids like me. But it's not me. There's still a Shelby Foote in me, longing to bang out copy on fascinating topics ... Supervillains one day, Noam Chomsky the next, Andy Warhol after that.
What I guess I'm saying is, help.