Success as a Writer

I first tried writing a story when I was in the fifth grade. I kept going through the rest of elementary school, on into middle school and eventually joined the staff of Virgil I. Grissom High’s literary magazine. Sometime in that stretch, I wrote a story about discovering an abandoned alien city on Mars; it felt like a novel to me, but it was probably only about ten thousand words long. My bits and scraps of prose got good reviews from the literary magazine and the PTA. After long enough pleasing that audience, you inevitably wonder if you’ve got anything to say at all.

How, I wondered, does a writer tell that they’ve “arrived”? What’s the best and truest sign that you’ve “made it”?

John J. McKay provides an answer, perhaps unintentionally. When this is your fan mail, you know you’ve struck somebody’s chord:

Most, if not all problems on the planet earth are from people like you who reject Jesus Christ. Our prisons are filled with people, like you, who reject Jesus Christ. Most if not all rapes, murders, robberies and thefts are committed by people, like you, who reject Jesus Christ. AIDS is mainly spread by people, like you, who reject Jesus Christ and have sex outside of marriage or else like children with AIDS get it from people, like you, who reject Jesus Christ. I hope you will turn from your sins and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and escape the fires of eternal hell. Turning from your sins and giving your life to Jesus Christ is the only way you can escape the fires of hell and receive everlasting life. If you persist in your sins and continue to turn your back on Jesus Christ, you will be lost forever.

The letter came from a certain Rev. Donald Spitz (oh, the ribbing he must have endured from those Voltaires of the jungle-gym), the chief kahuna of Pro-Life Virginia and, in McKay’s words, “the keeper of the Army of God website”. (Said army is described here.)

Pro-Life Virginia is, incidentally, a sponsor of “Paul Hill days.”

Being as I am eternally optimistic (snark, cough, guffaw) I feel almost cheerful at the prospect that with this kind of lunacy afoot, there’s always a chance that any one of us could become the next Salman Rushdie.