Proof of that was demonstrated by Bobby Kirk from Bogart, Ga., whose remark “It’s too hot to fish,” put him on the road to stardom, where in camouflage bib overalls he stood beneath the “National” banner of the Times. A crew from the “Colbert Report” followed this Forrest-Gump like person to his home, where on the front porch, perhaps with glasses of lemonade, the three reporters sitting on the slider swing facing the apparently toothless man’s rocker, when he grumbled, “I was no good this morning. I never got a bite. I reckon it was too hot.” Observed also, more culturally, his, “air conditioning has ruined everyone.” These above 90 temperature babies from New York and elsewhere were oddly attracted to the country wisdom of the Sage of Bogart. Another morsel served from his front porch: “If I had a million dollars, I would still want butter beans and tomatoes and okra.” Known for talking to anybody in the grocery store where he gathers, or maybe sells, the aforesaid food items, he was asked by the sliding, brow moping between straightening their legs reporters, if it bothered him that he was getting famous in part because people were making fun of him. The gummy jaws opened long enough for him to say, “They can make a monkey out of me as long as I make some money.” Will it happen? Hard to say, but for now he’s won what many, in this age of Twitter and Facebook, value more than money: fame.
Not always, of course. But it is hard, even harder is providing advice to new writers. As evidenced by this recent Facebook post by one of the best, Alice Munro.
“It’s not possible to advise a young writer because every young writer is so different. You might say, “Read,” but a writer can read too much and be paralyzed. Or, “Don’t read, don’t think, just write,” and the result could be a mountain of drivel. If you’re going to be a writer you’ll probably take a lot of wrong turns and then one day just end up writing something you have to write, then getting it better and better just because you want it to be better, and even when you get old and think, “There must be something else people do,” you won’t quite be able to quit.”
A hesitant attitude is the right one, even for a person of Ms. Munro’s stature, which may seem unfair given all the knowledge she could impart, but really isn’t. And so she stakes out some neutral ground. You’ll notice she never says, or even suggests, that a young writer take the plunge, become a full time writer. But she does quite clearly suggest that this wantabe not only may, but probably will take up writing as a hobby during his or her life, and will pursue said hobby with, if not passion, determination. “[B]ecause you want it to be better,” Alice Munro tells the anonymous yet ubiqutous young person. She channels her encouragement, and is wise to do so. The chances of commercial success are so slim for new writers, even after years of learning and submitting, that to steer one away from a paying job, or a path to one, is like providing marital advice, which may also, if not aimed at exactly the right person, bring heart ache.