Monday, July 12, 2010

A reporter in the trenches of ordinary life

I cannot believe that it has been nearly a year to the day since I've blogged here. I'm not sure why, if it was due in part to the seduction of Facebook, where you are guaranteed an instant audience based on the number of friends you have online, that will see and hopefully, respond to your statuses. I'm not alone. Several of my blogging friends have ceased writing entries as well. I hope that will change.

My father in law, Dick Sheridan, a respected veteran reporter at The New York Daily News who is currently writing a work of fiction, recently started a blog of his own, to keep in step with the other media outlets-Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. This is just one reason why I too, feel I need to get back to maintaining my own blog, to keep things fresh. You can find a link to his brand new blog on the top left.

Today, Harvey Pekar, author of the "American Splendor" comic books, passed away at 70, he'd been battling prostate cancer, depression. He is survived by his wife, Joyce Brabner and their adopted daughter. An Ohio file clerk, he decided to write about everyday instances that millions could relate to in his comic book series, illustrated by numerous artists including Robert Crumb. Last year I bought an anthology of his works, some of which had me laughing to tears, some moved me. He is something of an eccentric curmudgeon, so some are turned off by him. Not enough razzle dazzle, I s'pose.

In the age of the "Harry Potter" series and other recent bestselling works of fiction, I wonder or doubt that there is an audience for stories about the hardships of ordinary people-real life happenings without magic, the allure of a period or a scifi spin. It takes writers like Pekar, David Sedaris and Jeannette Walls and more recently, Sloane Crosley and Justin Halpern for me to be reminded that the market for these kinds of stories is alive and beats with a strong heart. Thank God. My only regret is that I did not follow through to write Harvey Pekar as I'd once intended.

However, this year, I did write Jeannette Walls, author of "The Glass Castle" in an attempt to glean advice on writing a memoir, not necessarily expecting I'd hear back, but of course I hoped. Sure enough, about a month later, in May 2010, I received a custom made postcard with her picture with a horse. On the back, she'd handwritten me a note, and while I know I still have a ways to go, I am encouraged and inspired to continue working on my memoir.

In the meantime, I continue to write for a consulting firm specializing in union publications, with clients including the Utility Workers Union of America. I hope to continue to give voice to their stories, and perhaps tell a few more of my own.