Sunday, April 21, 2013

Opening Doors

I have had my first piece of fiction published in the first issue of a new journal, The Provo Canyon Review, based in Utah, and I am amazed.

The article, "Opening Doors," about the life of a New York City doorman, is available at:

I find it hard to believe that, after years of insisting that I only write non-fiction (my poetry has never been sent out for publication and my numerous attempts at fiction have gone unfinished), I have completed a longish short story and got it published, all in about two years.

Although I have never lived in Manhattan, my wife grew up there, and we have visited the city, including the Upper East Side, where the story takes place, many times. I have long been intrigued by the city's doormen, who see a lot but say little. This point was made in an article thirty or more years ago by Gay Talese, and it got filed somewhere in the recesses of my brain as an idea that I wanted to explore some day.

Then, about two years ago, I happened to see a documentary about an elderly fashion photographer, Bill Cunningham, of the New York Times
and was moved by the contrast between his humble, ascetic lifestyle and his glamorous job. Somehow, the idea of writing something about doormen merged with the story of Bill; the rest of my story--including the narrator's relationship to the doorman he has known for forty years--came quickly.

I don't know if this is to be a once-in-a-lifetime achievement, or whether I will do more fiction. This story idea percolated for more than thirty years, so time is not on my side.  Non-fiction writing comes easier for me, seems to require less stamina and courage, and has many rewards.  I have a lot of experience in this genre, and as a teacher find that explaining things comes naturally.

It is a pleasure to see my experimental and creative side now get a bit of attention and to have in Chris McClelland a fine editor, who was able to prune my story by a thousand words while losing nothing. And, as with so much publishing, luck was on my side: Chris, a former student of mine, began a new journal with his wife, Erin, just as I completed my story.

I wish all the writers who may read this good fortune as well as the gift of patience as they revise, polish, and submit their work.  It is encouraging to know that, with online journals, the chance of being published has increased in recent years.

No comments: