They say a woman should reveal neither her age nor her weight. I don’t know who ‘they’ are. I hope I don’t hang out with them too often. They sound boring, honestly, and like they’re surrounded by boring people in turn.
My personal rule, age and weight be damned, is that you shouldn’t give out your Social Security number, or your phone number, if you can avoid it. You’ll end up with a terrible credit rating and constant calls that start with the sound of a ship’s horn blowing in the distance.
CONGRATULATIONS! YOU HAVE WON A CRUISE! ACT NOW.
I know. Poor sucker that is me, I’ve never yet gone on any of those free cruises.
I started thinking about this—cruise ships and all—because I was thinking of Charlotte Church. Voice of an Angel, that kind of thing. I don’t know what she’s up to nowadays, but I could look it up.
I won’t. Neither Charlotte Church nor cruise ships are the point. They’re springboards. Or digressions. A butterfly that fluttered through my brain and turned out to be a candy-wrapper.
What I was saying is that Charlotte Church published an autobiography as a teenager. I remember reading about it in People magazine, and declaring myself a failure. We were close in age and here she was with a vibrant music career and an autobiography. What was I doing? Studying Algebra?
Why was Charlotte Church getting published? That was supposed to be me. That’s the first time I remember feeling that way, but like those loose-tooth dreams we all seem to get, it recurred. When Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie ended up on bookshelves. When Hilary Duff and Britney Spears got published. When the Jenner sisters released a book, dipping their pedicured toes into one more of ten thousand entrepreneurial ponds.
I suspect an extraordinary number of those books were remaindered. They weren’t critical successes. They were, in all probability, ghost-written. Not by me. I can’t decide if I’m sad to say that. I doubt people will remember these books, and none of these women, whatever talents they possess and careers they pursue, is likely to be remembered first and foremost as a writer.
Fifteen years ago, I saw Charlotte Church’s book review in People magazine and thought, That should be me.
I want that to be me.
A lot has changed in the publishing industry, and in my personal life, in that time. Ebooks and ereaders dominate the marketplace, and I am now able to legally drink and vote (although combining the two activities is frowned upon). Writers who got their start on fanfiction sites are now New York Times bestsellers, and I now know not to color-coordinate my outfits from head-to-toe. Big changes and small changes everywhere, and yet some things remain the same.
I still care about writing. I’m still telling stories, and I still, definitely, achingly, want it to be me in that magazine. I want you to care about my stories the way that I do.
It’s selfish and vulnerable and true. I have neither fame nor fortune to guide my way. I have more than two decades of reading and writing and wanting it driving me. I want to tell good stories. I want them to speak to you.
It may never be me. But I’m going to work for it. I’m going to try.
After all, enjoyable as it sounds, I can’t spend the rest of my life on free cruises.