The author, who knows age is now his enemy, is praised and beloved, but few buy his books beyond academic insiders.  Magazines clamor for his short fiction, awards migrate to his doorstep with embarrassment, but he goes on living in his small house, wrapped in preferred obscurity, trapped behind a keyboard, searching for stories and trying to write a lesson plan for next week.  He teaches creative writing at a liberal arts college where creative thought supposedly matters, walking the halls and hearing whispers of students who gesture at him and want to be writers, hardly a talent among them, writing stories they think he wants to read, that he'll point to in class and say, "Finally, this is what I'm talking about," so he keeps searching for that lone fresh voice that will make it all worthwhile and prevent ideas from bleeding out.  Sometimes their stories bring him ideas but he resists them because that might be stealing and carry accusations of plagiarism or lacking originality, he, the revered tale teller, washed up, resorting to leaching off his students who, while writing contrived false stories for him, fail to flirt with him anymore.  On weekends he creates his own world with small black marks most misinterpret as modern.  He knows he is trying too hard, lost his patience, no longer able to write full-plotted novels that demand reader commitment. He can only pen short prose, easily digestible stories he can knock out, sell quickly and move on to another, ignoring the letters of rabid fans who plea for another fat tome. School and age and routine have taken that out of him now, forcing him into literary acrobatics that somehow don't seem as true or honest as the skinny hairless spectacled scarecrow he sees when walking past a mirror. Maybe there's a story in there somewhere.

© Poem Fix 2012

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