Act I: Growing up, college, marriage, children.
Act II: 30 years of copy editing at the Detroit Free Press while children grew up, went off to college, got married and so forth. I have twins who, between the two of them, have supplied me with two sons-in-law and two grandchildren.
Act III: Now that I’ve left the Free Press, I sort of have to figure out what to do with myself. I would like to work in a nice office in my office clothes and always have nights, weekends and holidays off. This is my quantifiable goal.
But it isn’t what I really want. I want to be a published writer.
Over the past two years, I’ve written a short story, a children’s story, a picture book, a memoir, a novella and a bad novel. None of them has ever been rejected… because none of them has ever made it past a critique group. My comrades praise my work, I make the tweaks they suggest (though there’s no tweaking that novel), and then I leave hard copies, flash drives and computer files lying around everywhere, waiting for the submissions fairy to come.
I want to be like Liane Moriarty and Emma Donoghue. I want to have written “The War That Saved My Life” and “The War I Finally Won.” When I wish on a star, which is the principal reason I walk out with my dog at night, I say, “I wish I could write something really good that makes a lot of money, but is really good.” Kirkus and cash and the NY Times.
I wish I could. Meanwhile, I can’t think of one word. Not one.