But first: The phone calls I am making…and you?
Regular readers (and by regular I mean your habitual viewing of this blog, and not your digestive frequencies) know I’ve been avoiding posting many political blurbs for the past several months, a situation that is likely to continue.
However, I will gird my online loins re the latest outrage by the (soon-to-be ex-) #45: the firing of the FBI Director. You know where this is leading. The Cheetos Hitler fires people who look too closely at his dealings.
Folks, the next step is to call  your representatives and demand the appointment of an independent special prosecutor if you’re concerned about a thorough and accurate investigation (then keep those numbers on speed dial; you’re gonna need ’em). Easiest way to get your rep’s phone numbers: Text your zip code to 520-200-2223.
It took all of 30 seconds for me to either leave a message, on my Rep’s answering machine or with the Very Nice Staff Person ®, that went something like this:
Good morning; my name is _____ ; I’m a constituent of ______(rep’s name), and I’m calling to demand the appointment of an independent special prosecutor to do a thorough and accurate investigation of the firing of the FBI Director and the #45 administration’s ties to Russia. Thank you for your time. Is there any other information you need from me?” 
Next step: Text the word RESIST to 504-09. When prompted, demand a congressional joint select committee to investigate Trump/Russia NOW. If we don’t demand this now, it may not happen. This action takes less than one minute. Our complacency/inaction may have a lifetime of repercussions.
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About that other phone call….
Hello; I’m calling for Robyn Parnell. My name is….
The name was garbled on the answering machine message. The message went on to identify Mr. Garbled Name as a reporter for a local community newspaper.  Mr. Garbled Name wanted to interview me because, he said, I am a published writer who lives in the community, and “I know there are a lot of people in the community who are interested in your books.” Mr. Garbled said he wanted to do a feature story on me, and could I call him back before five?
I received the message in the early afternoon. Later that day when I told MH about the message, I indulged in a moment of self-righteous huffiness about the call-before-five request, which reminded me of one of those As Seen On TV ads (Wait – there’s more! You get the entire set of Ginzu steak knives AND the weed whacker, but only if you contact our operators before 9 pm!!)
MH came to Mr. Garbled’s defense by pointing out the obvious: the reporter was on deadline. True, I conceded, but other people also have schedules/deadlines…oh wait a sec, what am I thinking? Writers are supposed to grovel in swamp water/skip their grandmother’s funeral jump at any opportunity for publicity.
Thirty years doing this, and I still suck at self-promotion. It’s like I didn’t get the memo.
For a moment I considered looking up the newspaper’s website, trying to figure out who the reporter might be. Just for a moment, I considered sending him an email. The email I did not send might have read something like the following:
(there would be an opening line or two, thanking him for his interest and respectfully declining his request).
I know about these feature stories on local ______ artists; writer). I’ve read them; I’ve been the subject of them. I’ve gritted my teeth while being interviewed (by perfectly nice reporters) for them, feeling like a fraud because I know what I’m supposed to say  to make the story a pleasant and safe read suitable for a community audience. And I don’t want to play that dull/safe game that anymore.
I know what you and your editors (think you) need: a Shiny Happy People, 500 – 700 word, feel-good story, wherein at some point the writer encourages other would-be writers, especially children, to follow their dream.  That’s the story you want me to tell so that it can be the story you write. And in the nicest of ways and using just the right amount of flattery, you dangle the promise of publicity. 
Thank you for your interest, but I must let you know that you will not make this particular deadline if the feature is dependent on me being the focus. I have no doubt that you will find another local writer who will be thrilled to be the subject of your feature story – that’s a no brainer. But, trust me, you don’t want my story.
My story is not for a feel-good feature in a community newspaper. It’s not necessarily a mo-better story (nor a mo-bitter story), but it is quite different from what you seek. It is the story of a writer, who wanted to write fiction and did, despite having no rose-colored delusions about the realities of getting published. It is the story about a writer who knew the statistics, did the work anyway, and got published in “real” established/legitimate markets by “real” publishers. 
It is the story about a published writer who came to despise the business end of writing – a writer who had not anticipated the extent of self-promotion and fame-seeking which would, increasingly be demanded by those same “real” publishers but who herself had zero interest in that kind of life. It is a story about a published author who, at her own and other authors’ book release parties/book readings/book signings/book fairs and other literary events, had seen other authors who were comfortable with being in the spotlight – to the point of actively seeking and obviously reveling in it. And she didn’t like what she saw and what she felt when she observed those other authors. 
It is a story at once simple and complicated; it’s about a writer who wanted to write, and who didn’t give two shakes of a spasmodic kangaroo rat’s ass about “being a writer” other than by actually writing – a writer who abhorred the dangled carrot of the limelight, who preferred anonymity amongst strangers, even in this Look at Me/Everyone Can Be A Celebrity/Selfie-obsessed society.
In other words, this is the story of a literary misfit (read; lunatic).
To do it justice, this story (or the many ones like it which could be written) could not even begin to be outlined in a community newspaper feature article.  Ideally, this story would be the journalistic equivalent of a mini-series, with a narrative tone reminiscent of an investigative documentary. The tale would be a tapestry: threads of the reasons why one particular fiction writer lost the love for and motivation to do the work skillfully interwoven with those strands spun from the dreary state of publishing fiction today,  the latter of which includes the theoretical expanding of “markets and opportunities” (e.g. online book sales, e- publishing, e-mags) leading to the virtual expanding of theft/e-piracy/copyright violations/rights grabs by publishers  …in a nutshell, more “opportunities” for writers to work without getting paid. 
Given the right narrative structure, it is a tale I might be interested in reading…someday. But it won’t be this week, and it won’t be about me.
With all that has been going on in my life, this – the phone message re the interview – is the first time in several months where I have been “confronted’ with the reality of my sabbatical. I’ve no reason to assume the reporter was anything other than a Nice Guy ® who was just doing his job. Still, I was (almost) surprised by my complete lack of interest in doing the interview, as well as in the effort it took for moiself to summon up even a twinge of regret for not calling him back.
Okay. Getting into Way Too Serious Territory ©. There must be a way to segue into a literary fart joke.
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Department Of Silver Linings
The previously-mentioned Phone Call I Did Not Return © did end up providing me with my best belly laugh of the week.
When I first played back the message and couldn’t understand the person’s name, I didn’t listen to the entire message – I hit the replay button and turned up the volume, hoping to get the name. Volume, schmolume – I still couldn’t make out his name, but heard loud and clear his assertion that he knew there are a lot of people in the community who are interested in your books, which caused me to guffaw, “Not according to my royalty statements.”
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Department Of Things That Frost My Butt
Installment 621 in a series
(Pre-rant background information: I volunteer for a feline-specific animal adoption organization, at one of their offsite locations. The majority of the cats and kittens are housed at the mother ship, aka the main shelter in south Washington County city. Kittys are also housed at several offsite adoption centers – generally, pet supplies stores which have special cat kennel section which they lease to the shelter.)
To the Guy (and it’s always a guy) who walks his dog (it can be any breed, from the 5 lb yippies to the 80 lb Dobermans) up and down the aisles of the PetOpia store: Dude, you hold your dog up to the glass wall of an animal’s kennel/habitat and encourage your canine to bark/growl/otherwise harass the animal (usually a cat, but I’ve seen it happen to rabbits, gerbils and other rodents, reptiles, birds, other/smaller dogs) housed on the other side of the glass. Anyway, you know who you are…
On second thought, you probably don’t. Your actions indicate that there is nary an introspective bone in your body, only a thick mass of bone-like tissue where your brain should be housed.
Every time it happens, a part of me is surprised as well as disgusted. Apparently, because you have an animal with you and you are in a pet supplies store, I hold the (obviously mistaken) assumption that you are fond of animals. And yet you engage in this behavior as if it were playful, and persist in encouraging your dog to bark at the other animal despite  seeing obvious signs of distress in that animal.
And I, a volunteer for an organization which depends upon the goodwill of the pet supplies store in order to have that adoption space at the store, have been explicitly instructed that I am forbidden from confronting you. I can only “redirect” your behavior and attempt to educate you; I can’t kick your sorry sadistic ass to the curb.
If only for a taser gun with a heat-seeking, genital-specific probe….
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May you never be One Of Those People other people want to kick to the curb;
May your story be one that can fit into a 500 word feature (…or…not);
May you continue La Résistance and contact your elected officials;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 Second choice: fax (last choice: email). According to Congressional representatives’ staff, fax & phone calls are the most effective ways to get attention.
 They have your phone number once you call; they may want your zip code & address.
 Yes, they still exist.
 And I know, even if I don’t say what I’m supposed to say, you will spin my quotes in such a way as to make me say what I’m supposed to say.
 Except that dream where you show up naked for the SAT test.
 Aka an audience; a platform; exposure….
 As per my professional writer personality, ® I have the limelight-averse temperament of a Harper Lee or J.D. Salinger without having written their bestsellers. Not exactly a publisher’s dream. 😉
 Yep, accusations of elitism are likely to be flung at this assertion.
 The Author’s Guild is America’s oldest and largest professional and advocacy organization for writers; if interested search for their and others’ lawsuits, such as AG v. Google, independent publishers v. Amazon, even universities sued for engaging in unauthorized digitization of copyrighted works… and I do love that you can google lawsuits against Google.
 The AG article The Wages of Writing summarized the results of the most comprehensive author survey since 2009: authors’ income is down significantly across all categories (full-time and part-time authors, and that full-time authors with 15+ years experience saw the most declines); authors spend more time on marketing and (thus) less on writing ….. Click here for more detailed and depressing survey results.
 Or because of…bullies apparently do not limit their torments to their own species.