In Which the Prof Views Himself as a Shrubbery

Roger the Shrubber

I received a contributor’s copy of Dark City Lights in the mail yesterday, and started to read through it last night. Due to LB’s fiendishly clever algorithms (for which you should read his intro), my story, “Bowery Station, 3:15 a.m.”, is the third one in the book, between stories by Thomas Pluck and Jerrold Mundis, and not far from a funny detective story by Parnell Hall.

As I’ve been reading, I’ve noticed as always that there are some really good, entertaining writers out there. This is generally followed on my part by going back and rereading my own contribution — it’s kind of a manifestation of the impostor syndrome. I was telling a colleague of mine yesterday that the vast majority of the time (90%+?), I don’t think of myself as being particularly remarkable — why would I? I’ve never been anyone but me — while I can consider some parts of my life as having been statistically unlikely, usually I just think of it as my life, a sort of default setting. In addition to that, growing up around my mom and dad meant that being bookish, musical, or interested in writing and creative stuff was just part of the natural environment.

Consequently, I usually think of myself as a regular guy, someone who watches sports and listens to music and likes to hug his kid when she’ll put up with it (which thankfully is almost always). Yeah, there are some things I’m pretty good at doing, mostly involved with reading and remembering stuff, but most people are good at something. Some folks are good at gardening; others at shooting free throws. Me, I read a lot. When I do comment on being academic, it’s usually in a pretty ironic way — the example of Wile E. Coyote is never far from my mind:

So in any case, seeing myself in print like this always makes me a little suspicious. “My story looks like the other stories in this book/magazine, but they’re good.” What am I doing in the midst of this forest of good stories?

But of course, there are quite a variety of flora in a forest, or even a scrub woods, and it’s my understanding that each of the plants serves some sort of ecological purpose. So I have to remind myself that even shrubs belong in the forest, and cycle their share of oxygen and drop their leaves and needles on the earthen floor to nourish other life.

Beats being deadfall.


About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
This entry was posted in Family, Literature, Why I Do What I Do. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to In Which the Prof Views Himself as a Shrubbery

  1. Jerome says:

    Albeit on an order of magnitude much smaller, but I know where your coming from. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and even play music with some that I would’ve thought way out of my league just a few years ago. You’re worthy. I like that you read…and look nice….and aren’t too expensive.

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