Meat and meeting
Your comments are great. Keep it up. As for Mr. Meat, well, I know his type to a T. He majored in hostility and intimidation.
Funny what some readers read into my stories. Despite what Meathead wrote, I haven't ever really complained here about not having or making money. At the university, I even accepted a cut in pay last year and didn't even complain about that loss of $1000 a semester (I was told my previous paychecks had been too high as a result of some bookkeeping error -- ha!).
Look, I think the pay they offer adjuncts at just about every university is pathetic. Worked out by the hour, busboys make more. But typically we adjuncts aren't doing it for money. We simply like teaching. We like passing along the lessons we learned the hard way. I enjoy teaching writing because I love writing and want to share my passion for it as a craft and a career.
Writing is how I earn my living. And since all the media hooha started, I've received many more assignments from bigger publications and for substantially fatter fees. Moneywise, I live modestly but comfortably and don't want for anything (except health coverage). I buy cute outfits at Target and drive my cars till they fall off the wheels with age.
I have tasted the high life, no doubt about that. In my career as a writer on the entertainment beat, I've been to more than my share of lavish Hollywood parties (hundreds, no joke) and met every famous person I ever dreamed of meeting (including Lucille Ball, Mary Tyler Moore, Lyle Lovett, the guys who do South Park, Larry Gelbart and the late Mister Rogers). Stories have taken me to glamorous locales overseas, as well as the poorest areas of every city I've ever worked in. Believe me, there are more unhappy movie stars than you might imagine, and more happy busboys than you might have thought either.
What so many of the kids I've written about have yet to realize is: Life is not about a paycheck. It's not about a car, a debutante ball or a McMansion in Frisco (a booming suburb of Dallas). Oh, boy, is it ever not about those things. Maybe you have to have miles on you to know that for sure. Maybe you have to have known some loss -- of people you loved or of opportunities you didn't realize. You learn that you can live on much less than you thought you had to. And in time, you find that there's a certain freedom in it. Time you can call your own can be worth a lot more than hours-days-weeks-years spent serving a master who doesn't appreciate you. (My friends, the Eds, have taught me that lesson.)
Enough whinging about such serious things. Someone also asked if I ever meet my readers. I hope to meet many of you when the book is published. Or maybe before that we could have a back-to-school get-together sometime this fall. I'm working on a lot of things, including T-shirts and other fun items from the Phantom Prof brand.
It's all about to go off the hook, baby. And I'm enjoying every comment, email and good vibe that you send.
Keep writing, y'all. And I will, too.