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Friday, August 22, 2014

Celebrating Anonymous Media Whores

     “One of my favorite authors is Anonymous.” Ever hear that? And when’s the last time you saw by Anonymous, the New York Times Bestseller emblazoned across the cover of a book? 
Okay, it can be done. But today in honor of Celebrate Small Things, a blog hop hosted by Vik Lit (Scribblings of an Aspiring Author) and co-hosted by the following bloggers:
LG Keltner @ Writing Off the Edge
Katie @ TheCyborg Mom 
CaffeMaggieato @ mscoffeehouse 
I’m grateful that publishing usually requires that authors display their names prominently on their products. Because otherwise, I probably wouldn’t.   
     One of my favorite authors, Tawni O’Dell, has a darkly humorous personal story about having to fight to use her given name in her debut book. I say darkly because it has some really horrible undertones of the discrimination women authors still face (yes STILL). So it’s more than just a funny anecdote, and a great read for anyone hoping to publish. But I’m saving that for my next post on All The Crazy, a group blog I contribute to every sixth week or so. (Until then, you should check out the posts of my fellow contributors. There's something for everyone!)
     There are writers who rarely get their names on their work, and I was one of them for about ten years. Copywriters, PR people, writers for the wire services. In those industries, a code of honor is what keeps people from claiming work that isn’t theirs. The collaborative nature of the industry makes it hard to figure out just who did what.     
     So when my daughter’s softball team went to the playoffs for the third year in a row, I sent a write-up to the local paper again. I’ve been sending press releases all along, since I feel that it’s especially important to feature girls’ sports whenever possible. Besides, all you have to do is email names and a picture to the editor. When another mom said, “Did you see the girls in the paper?” I nodded and we talked about their great season. My husband was like “Why didn’t you tell her you wrote it?”
In First Place. Note the lucky rabbit.
     Because I didn’t really write it, I argued, I emailed names and a picture. Then I thought about my real motives, which trace all the way back to elementary school. Fifth grade was a bad year for me. It was the year my father tried to kill himself three times. There were probably more attempts over the years that I didn’t know about, but that time he was forcibly committed as a result of a psychotic break. My mother’s valiant attempts to keep his mental illness under wraps (even from me) failed when the police and the court system got involved. I had no idea what was going on and was, frankly, afraid to ask.
     At school—where I always thrived, probably to make up for the bad vibes I felt at home—there was an ongoing food drive. I happened to mutter the phrase “Don’t be greedy, help the needy” within earshot of a teacher. She liked it so much that she included that line in a PA announcement. Maybe I’d heard it somewhere before, but I like to think it was my first advertising tagline, circa 1981. When it sounded over the PA, my heart burst with pride, so much so that I mentioned to my best friend I’d come up with it. She stared at me. “You came up with that?” Not only didn’t she believe me, she proceeded to elicit opinions from the entire class. They all thought I was lying. The consensus was that teachers write the PA announcements, and Mrs. Kuechle, a charismatic, lovely teacher, whom I loved as much as any of them, definitely wrote that one.
     My best friend didn’t know that my dad was suicidal. She didn’t know that I really, really needed credit for something. Anything.
     Hurt at receiving cattiness instead of the congratulations I’d expected, I didn’t ask the teacher to clear it up. Deep down I was afraid that she too would deny it. Although I’d never been a boastful child and wouldn’t dream of taking credit for something I didn’t do, I realized that people must perceive me as being horrible. It’s like they knew that something bad was in me. Maybe the same bad thing surrounding the mystery of what my dad had done to wind up in an institution. Soon I began to doubt whether I’d written the stupid thing in the first place—or if it even mattered. I vowed to be more careful about sharing my ideas.
     Fast-forward to the present. When the playoffs ended, and the girls had won their championship, I sent another blurb, and parents commented again. This time, I admitted I’d sent the information.
     “You wrote that?” one of them asked skeptically.
Season Champs
     I gulped, exchanged a look with my husband and said, “Yeah.” Then I winced, waiting for the criticism, knowing I either spelled a name wrong, switched kids in the picture, listed the sponsor from last year instead of the current one. There is no end to the list of potential pitfalls.
     “Wow, that was so nice of you. The girls were excited to be in the paper, twice now.”
     I took a deep, relieved breath.
     “But won’t people think we’re media whores?” the parent added.
     Watch out, Kim Kardashian. Thanks to me, you just might be dethroned by the Brandon Township Girls’ Softball team.
    
    



5 comments:

  1. Hopefully, the Kardashions can share.

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  2. LOL, the whole family is good at that!

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  3. I think it's great that you sent something to the paper on behalf of your daughter and her team :) Something about trust...people that trust easily tend to be trustworthy people and vice versa. Unless you've outright lied to someone, those who don't believe you have issues of their own.
    ~Katie

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  4. Thanks for your lovely comment in my blog. I'm glad to hear that my words have helped. I'm sorry to hear about your dad. It sucks when bad things pile up and I can definitely understand you needing something in that moment, and not getting it. I'm glad to hear that you're finally getting the recognition you deserve. Its time to come out of the shadows! =)

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  5. LOL!
    I'd reply with, "Yes, media whores showcasing actual talent instead of panty flashes, drunk driving, and coke on hookers. If this keeps up, people will mistake us for Canadian, what with showcasing positive stories instead of seeking out the bottom of the social barrel."
    But that's me. I like to stir up a little trouble every now and then.

    Bravo to you and the girls.

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