Chapter Thirty-four

   So, it was all a TV commercial, or a movie, or a fishing trip, or you're in Spain, or Milwaukee, or -- what's the difference? What difference does it make where you are or what you're doing as long as you've got your health and you're making a fabulous income and everyone is groveling at your feet for favors? Really, what difference does it make?
   "Aren't you putting yourself above criticism?"
   If anything, Maureen, I'm holding myself up to public ridicule. ("Reads like a floor full of fallen Scrabble tiles!" -- Cynics Review)
   "Perhaps. But, you can always fight back -- with a p.r. campaign, a talk show blitz -- you can complain that they don't understand you, that they're missing the metaphor, the hidden meaning. You can throw out charges of 'media bias' and 'executioner mentality' and eventually the public will never be able to distinguish between the real hatchet jobs and your cleverly placed disinformation."
   You have it all figured out, don't you, Maureen? (This doesn't sound like her!)
   "Why don't you give me a chance to manage your career, Jim? I could provide some direction, I could bring you into focus with the reading public. You need focus."
   Hmm. I just might. Why not let you handle things for awhile? I'm not getting anywhere doing it myself, that's for sure.
   "Good. I'll start beating the drum. Soon you'll be hearing a lot of buzz about this 'unusual new literary talent peeking over the horizon' -- meanwhile, you keep writing, don't lose your confidence. If I can, I'll scrounge up some endorsements for you -- say, do you have Kurt Vonnegut's phone number?"
   Slow down, Maureen, slow down, will you? Remember, I'm still writing. Aren't you jumping the gun a little?
   "Not these days. Welcome to the Nineties. Today you shop, market, sell, recall, and dump books into the remainders bins before the writing is even completed. You can't do it any other way. You do and you'll get trampled. They'll run all over you. They'll laugh in your face."
   Gee, Maureen, I don't know...
   "Well, at least let me start getting the word out about this prodigious new talent."
   "It's just a word."
   So's exciting, and promising.
   "You're a tortoise in molasses you're so far behind on this one, Jimmy Boy. Let me handle the 'public you' and you take care of the 'other you' and everything will turn out just fine. Take it from your very own creation, I know."
   Well, maybe you do. Okay, go ahead, do your thing. But keep me informed. I don't want to be surprised some day, reading that I'm 'a shoo-in for the Pulitzer', okay?
   "Okay. It's a deal."
   So, we left it like that, with me writing, and Maureen out on the hustings, banging the drum, beating the media batty with all things great and wonderful about -- me! And me, being who I am, went back to work, back to the unfinished symphony, back to the chaos, the cacophony, back to the writing, the writing, the writing -- writing this as a matter of fact. Not bad.
   So, while the clamor for this book grows, the book itself will be growing, too. I can just see it -- the wild scene at the book signing -- the long line extending around the block, everyone pumped and primed, anxious to get their hands on a first edition, anxious to meet the author, me.
   "It's his first, and it's fabulous!"
   "Where has he been?"
   "I hear he's a shoo-in for the Pulitzer."
   "I hear he can't even tie his own shoelaces!"
   "Ladies and gentlemen, our honored guest this evening, the author of In the Bubble, please welcome -- Jim Reynolds!"
   "Thank you, thank you. I'm very honored, very honored --
   The room starts to spin, I hear some screams, then sirens, then car doors closing, then more sirens, then a car radio, then some music, then a ball game, extra innings, then car doors opening, then I hit the cement, and then --

(This ends Chapter Thirty-four and, in case you were wondering, it all turned out to be a big nothing. Oh, Maureen was upset, but she gets upset about the smallest things. Anyway, what apparently happened is, I had gotten ahead of myself, way ahead of myself, and even though there is no law that says you can't get ahead of yourself, I was clearly having problems with it. Okay. Moving on.)

Chapter Thirty-five