Looking back, the recent library reading to which I committed – and ultimately enjoyed immensely – reminds me of a poignant episode of, The West Wing, and of Buddha’s warning about two mistakes on the road to truth: “not going all the way, and not starting.”
In the flashback episode, Jed Bartlet is the little known governor of New Hampshire. Old friend Leo McGarry visits to plant the idea that his old friend should run for president. He has even written the slogan, Bartlet for America, on a cocktail napkin.
At the library, I spoke to a group of seniors, some of whom were pretty feisty. “So what do you think of the media?” one demanded. They liked the back story of how I self-published, and tsk-tsked at the way Bella manipulates men. They liked the cover, which shows Bella holding the remains of her husband’s uniform, and a shot of the Capitol. As we said goodbye, I was unsure of how to measure success.
The notion that TV’s Bartlet could win the White House was as incomprehensible as, well, the idea that Bella could wind up a bestseller. We learn in the finale that the future prez had saved and framed the napkin. He gives it to a McGarry as a Christmas gift in one of the finest scenes of a wonderful show.
The power of the moment is in realizing that Bartlet would never have won the nation’s highest office had he not begun the journey, or quit along the way. We relate because all of us have stumbled upon such a crossroads moment and failed to realize its significance until much later.
How will I look back on my visit to the Hicksville Public Library two years from now? Did I strike a chord, plant a seed, win some followers? Somehow I feel it was an hour well spent.
Maybe you can relate. If so, please share a moment in your writing career that seemed minor at the time, but which turned out to be more important than you ever imagined.