Where Are the Champions?

While at Ucross I read some of my short short fiction and nonfiction with Molly Reid, an awesomely talented writer. It turns out that Molly and I had stories published by The Literary Review: Molly’s Narrow Salvation in the “Lives of the Saints” issue (Fall/Winter 2011), my There Is Joy before the Angels of God in the “Machismo” issue (Winter 2010).

We discussed our Literary Review experiences and my ears perked up when she told me that the editor of the journal contacted her requesting work. It seems said editor had read another of Molly’s stories and it impressed her so much that she not only remembered her name but also sought out more of her work.

This kind of championing is a rare thing in the realm Molly and I inhabit. It happened to me once, with Tango Octogenario.

Photo by Peter LaMastro.
Photo by Peter LaMastro.

I had submitted Tango to Reel New York, WNET’s short film showcase in early 2004, but the film was rejected. Then, in the summer of 2007, I received an email from D., who recently took over as the programmer for Reel New York, asking if they could air the film that summer.

When I asked D. how she had become aware of Tango, she told me she worked for Reel New York in 2004 and saw it when I submitted it. It stayed with her those three years, and when it was her turn to program, it was on her list.

Knowing that someone in a position to further the film responded so positively to my work, that it made such a lasting impression, sustained me for a good long while. The reward here is assurance. Assurance that I’m doing good work, that my work has value.

Yes, I can be that insecure, because yes, it can a very cruel world out there.

Just to be clear, I have support, from the likes of my friends and you, dear blog reader, and the many Facebook likers, but championing is something else. I’m not sure how often this kind of championing occurs. Maybe once in a career? Once a project? As I plug along on A Life’s Work these days I’m hoping it finds a champion sooner rather than later, but I also know this isn’t usually how it works. It seems that most people in a position to advocate art reserve their championing for finished work. I understand this, but it’s frustrating when you’re struggling to finish work and could use a champion during those trying days.

But I also know that people come to your aid when you need it most. Summer 2007 was a great time for Tango to screen on PBS. Would 2004 have been better? Impossible to say.

Do you have a similar tale? I’d love to hear it. I believe we all become stronger and more inspired when we share these kinds of stories. So please, send a comment or email my way.