Some Have It Thrust Upon Them
When I was a senior in high school, my English teacher had the temerity to suggest I enter politics. I looked at her as if she had recommended I become a porn star. Didn’t we all agree that politics was for soulless ladder-climbers? This teacher, who was prone to melodrama, winced at my response and cried, “But if not young men like you, Bill, then who? Who will lead us?” I didn’t know, and I didn’t care. But the very fact that she had suggested I consider politics made me uneasy. At this time the other job for which my teachers agreed I was best suited was television news anchor. A news anchor, it seemed to me, had all the polished shallowness of a politician only without the pretense of convictions.
This was a strange time in my life. Adults were hurling accolades my way, all of which had to do with leadership, none of which had to do with writing. I was chosen to attend leadership conferences; I was given leadership awards. I was made the editor of the school newspaper, co-edited the yearbook, and read the news on the school radio. It was all very flattering, but also a little bewildering. I didn’t want to be a damn leader. I wanted to be a writer. Leave me alone.
Many years later I wrote a very autobiographical novel based loosely on the summer between my senior year in high school and my freshman year in college. I was very protective of this book, and was finding the submission process particularly difficult. At this time, my wife had taken to pulling “angel cards,” little cards inscribed with a single word, on whose meaning you were supposed to reflect. Whenever I pulled one, the card that came up most often was Leadership.
“Lead what?” I thought. I had told the world to leave me alone, and it had—quite completely. Now I found myself in the position of asking that same world to invite me back to the party. I sensed those angel cards were right. If not me, then who? Who could lead me back to the world but the one who had led me away from it?
Remember to catch Bill every Tuesday at 2:00 PM PST/5:00 EST on his live Blogtalk Radio program Author2Author!