Thing have settled down a bit in Muskrat Flats. All of the commotion, rumors and speculation pertaining to the events which occurred during Silver Days, last week, have simmered down and have been relegated to the dark and dusty rooms of the bars and taverns, where such matters belong.
I was leafing through Hampshire Life, the weekly insert produced by the Hampshire Gazette. Even though I do not reside in Hampshire County, I occasionally check out the Gazette for news of what is happening up North and in the Hill towns. I always find something interesting I enjoy reading in Hampshire life, whether it is a article about my favorite band, written by Sheryl Hunter or most recently an article about a subject I have written about, a resurgence of people who raise chickens who not only do it for the entertainment value the fowl offer, but to get to closer to their food source, namely the eggs these bird can provide.
As I was rooting around the Gazette Website I saw an ad for "Tell Us A Story" Their 17th annual Short Fiction Contest.
I knew what was coming. I scanned down the list - No more the 1500 words, double spaced, you don't get you manuscript back, blah blah blah, and then the clincher ...
"Employees of New England Papers or immediate members their Families are ineligible."
Garry Brown - Sportswriter for the Springfield News Papers since 1950.
So, this guy is MY immediate family member and has basically restricted me from entering this contest for the last 17 years, not to mention various other contests or surveys in which membership in a family of someone who works in a media outlet is restricted from participation.
The phone rings.
"Hello, Paul. What's up?"
"I was just sitting and wondering ... when are you going to retire?"
He gets this question all the time.
"Not until I pay off the new car." I get a little agitated.
"New Car?! When did you get a new car?"
"We're getting it next year."
Dad is 77 years old. So that means he is going to keep writing and keep me from entering these types of contests for at least another 5 years, the average length of a car loan. Hey, who can blame him. If I got paid to write, I'd get all Charlton Heston on your ass and keep writing until you had to "pry my laptop, out of my cold, dead hands."
OK, I'm being a little self-centered here. It's just a stupid writing contest. The top prize is $250. I write every day. I have a readership on the internet which is growing every day. If it keeps growing at the rate it is, I should have enough of a circulation to approach some advertisers, sooner than later. Who needs more validation that?
I DO! Just like anyone else, I want attention, My Ego wants validation. Look at what I do?
I am a chef - Instant validation. "Oh, Paul ... this is so gooood," She says. You would think I did something other than give her a small morsel of my cooking to sample.
I am a glass artist - Constant and never ending validation. I've been written up in the local press, every where I go people are awed by my stuff. And compared to others, based on skill and experience, I have a lot of room for improvement. That skill and experience is forthcoming. I am not about to stop what I am doing.
And you are here, reading this. Thank You very much. Hopefully you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoy writing it.
Back to the contest ... I understand there are other contests out there for which I am eligible to enter, but Hampshire County, those folks are my Peeps. It would be nice to get that county wide recognition.
So ... New England Papers, eh? Does that mean that the "Pros from Dover" can enter the contest? Someone like Andrea Peyser, perhaps? She doesn't work for a New England Paper. Sure, she probably wouldn't enter the contest, she has bigger fish to fry. Howie Carr would probably enter if he could, I know he would want the 250 bucks.
What is the point of imposing such restrictions on a contest such as this? Do the editors of the Gazette really think that Garry Brown has time to sit down and edit my writing; to polish it enough to enter in a contest? I think not.
Why is it that this kind of rule applies to a contest like this where every where else in the world, nepotism abounds?
Rumer Willis, Bruce and Demi's daughter, born with good looks and natural acting ability? Perhaps ... but I'm sure her ancestral line will not keep her from getting acting jobs just so the "unknowns" have a fair shot. Cal Ripken Jr., Kate Hudson, Shelly Duval, John Gotti Jr., George W. Bush and the list goes on.
All of the next generation kids who have made it in the field of their parents; are they really truly talented and deserving of the position they have acquired? Well, baseball stats speak for themselves, but in the end all of these folks and many others have gotten
to the point that they have, through nepotism.
What about on a local level? It doesn't stop with acting, sports, organized crime and National politics. What about all of the folks who have brothers, nephews, cousins and in-laws in the State House or other forms of Local Government who have 6 figure salaries working for the MBTA, MassPort, or the Springfield Parking Authority? Or, the little guys and gals who work for their brother-in-laws or their parents? Nepotism is how it works. Unless you are about to enter the local yokel writing contest.
I want my piece of the action, baby!
For now, I don't think that is forthcoming. I can wait until that car loan is paid off to enter your ridiculous little contest.
I guess I will have to continue to tell my stories here, or if you care to hear them in person, we can chat outside the only meeting we have in Muskrat Flats. It is at 7:30 PM in the basement of the Odd Fellows Hall on Petersen St, every Thursday night. We are celebrating next week, so bring a Hot Dish.
Thanks for reading!
Until we meet again, you will always find me ...
Running Hard Out Of Muskrat Flats.