CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- One of the most frustrating things about people knowing you're a writer is when a greeting card gets shoved in front of you and you're expected to write something clever. There's no "best wishes" or simple "I'll miss you" allowed. The person carrying the card will usually hover, waiting to see what witty words you'll write.
My hands will start to sweat. I'll get dizzy.
In desperation, I'll scrawl something that's deliberately unreadable, draw a little cartoon, and then sign my name, hoping those who read it will think it's an inside joke and the recipient will just think they can't read my writing.
Truth is, I've found there's nothing easy about being a writer. It's both my greatest love and my biggest frustration. From grade school forward, it's all I've ever wanted to do. I spend much time working at it, trying to improve, so it frustrates me when, every now and then, you hear of someone who sneaks in the back door.
A Charleston woman told me how she was doing everything writers are supposed to do -- taking classes and reading books, honing her skills, writing and rewriting and tightening her prose. She even belonged to a weekly critique group. While she was doing all that, her husband quietly handwrote a book of his own in a spiral notebook and mailed off his only copy directly to a publisher.
And damned if he didn't land a contract.
He sneaked in through the back door. While part of me celebrates, a bigger part knows that it's the rare success stories like his that feed those determined to cut line themselves. To hell with the rules! If he can do it, they can too!