The Next Day

1996. After a year of research and planning, and another six months of throwing myself body, mind and soul into the project, I was able to watch the first edition of the new national magazine ParentTalk roll off the presses. I, with my co-editor Randy Maxwell, were the proud parents of a wonderful new magazine. It was not my first magazine, but it was for Randy. A smile split his face from ear to ear. “Enjoy this moment,” I told him. “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

1997. One year later, I am given the task of calling our list of regular writer, advertisers and subscribers and telling them that ParentTalk was being discontinued. It had been an honor, albeit a short one, to be one of the few editors who actually gets to oversee the launch of a national magazine. Unfortunately, I also had to oversee its demise.

Ninety percent of new magazines die within a year. The odds for writing books are not much better and are probably worse. Hundreds of thousands of novels are written each year, many more than are published. And of the thousands that are published, very few make it into the nation’s consciousness. So why do it?

What do those two dates–the magazine’s launch and its funeral–have in common? The day after. After every success and every failure, if you are lucky, life goes on. When I came to Texas to teach college, one of the duties I had was to run the campus radio station, including its annual fund raiser. The station had fallen on hard times, and I decided to change the format to something that showed more promise financially. I got plenty of flack for changing a station that had been the same way for 25 years. And when Sharathon time rolled around, I knew my credibility–and possibly my job–depended on a good showing. Our first year goal was $30,000. We raised $8,000. In the middle of the fund raiser, I had a student come to the station wanting to talk to me about a test I was giving the next week. I told them I couldn’t focus on next week. My focus was on Sharathon.

But despite my poor showing and my lack of farsightedness, tomorrow did come. And I wasn’t fired. In fact, in coming years, we went on to set records for fund raising with the station.

I have had many successes in my life. I have also had many failures. I have one book that I wrote that has sold 30,000 copies. On the other hand, one annual royalty check I received was for $17. That’s not much to show for the hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of work that go into writing.

And so you have to accept that there will be failures, and hopefully, some successes as well. But that’s not why we write. We write–or at least I write–because it is the life I want to live. I’ve said before that even if I never published another book, I would still want to fill the days and years I have left with writing. For me, there’s no other choice.

I hope that’s the way you feel.