Saturday, October 11, 2014

And your host writes something almost uplifting?

I don't know how many of you are Family Circle subscribers/readersI suspect that's not an especially strong title among SHAMbloggers, winkbut my essay in tribute to my relationship with my grandson, Jordan, appears in the November issue, on newsstands beginning this weekend.

Kudos to the very talented Executive Editor Darcy Jacobs, whose savvy/gentle guidance helped me improve the piece markedly...in large part by tightening it. (File under, Why We All Need Editors, Chapter 758.)

The story starts on page 82 if you just want to browse it in the supermarket checkout line (though you can bring the entire issue home for $1.99...and there are some killer recipes). By the way, if you do read and enjoy it, think about taking a moment to send a note of appreciative feedback to the magazine. You'll help keep the personal essay/memoir genre alive for those of us who've made a fair percentage of our living from the medium through the years...and for my wide-eyed students who are just starting out. ... For the record, this is 49th such memoir I've sold since the first one (also my very first published piece) ran in Harper's in January 1982. Alas, as many of you who dabble will also know, the (well-paying) markets for such writing have dried up considerably over the past decade or so. Now it's all about service/"news-you-can-use." That original Harper's piece ran at 4500 words; I've written a half-dozen others at that length or longer. But magazine space is at a premium nowadays. This one was really pushing it at around 1100.

11 comments:

Marianne Steinmetz said...

Just read Sea Change ...made me cry. I too took my son away from loving grandparents..to live my life. Now I am an out of state Gammy. I do have my grandson 2 months every year. We took amazing road trips all over the country together...just the 2 of us. He is 12 now and feel him slipping away to more grown up things. Helping my daughter raise my 4 yr old grandson here locally... I cherish every minute of our time together...we do great things together living right on the Gulf of Mexico. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

A beautiful and heartbreaking piece, Steve. I know space is limited in magazines and you can't explore every subplot but I kept wondering till the end if there would be more about your own son. It left me wanting more, and also wondering how he feels about what you said. Though I doubt he reads Family Circle!

Thanks again for writing such a lovely essay.

Steve Salerno said...

Marianne and Anon, thanks for the kind words.

I have explored my tempestuous/never-quite-comfortable relationship with my son in a half-dozen prior pieces, at least one of which, for a literary magazine, went on at some length. In fact, for a while there writing about Graig was something of a cottage industry for me. He wasn't thrilled in the beginning but became more philosophical and accepting as time went by...and I agreed to share the proceeds with him, wink.

Linda Coleman said...

I thought your story about your relationship with your grandson was touching and heartwarming. As the grandmother of four, ages 10 to 22, I realize how every single moment is important in those relationships. I would love to read others of your essays. If they've been compiled in a book, can you share with me how I can find it (or them)? Thanks for a lovely story.

Steve Salerno said...

Linda, thank you for taking the time to look me up. I've had several such request, so maybe I'll link to other things I've written.

A book of my personal essays? There's enough of them to collect. Never thought about it. But oh lord, would it depress people!

Jenny said...

Steve, I enjoyed the story, too. Found a copy of the magazine in the library and photocopied the article. (Sorry, Family Circle.)

Also, I doubt a book of your personal essays would depress me! To the contrary, given what you've shared so far, I imagine it would only lead to a greater appreciation for your whole body of work. I'm being serious here, too, not just nice or kind.

Steve Salerno said...

Thank you, Jenny...but...a member of the literary arts...violating copyright in a library! Call out the SWAT team--if there are any left who aren't patrolling airports or borders or the White House or national landmarks (after today's incident in Canada).

Here's the URL to the Lives column I wrote about the granddaughter who turned out not to be:

http://tinyurl.com/Lives-column

People will start to wonder: Don't any of his kids have interpersonal relationships that work out?

Steve Salerno said...

By the way, some brilliant Times copyeditor for some reason made a very unfortunate change in this line, near the end:

"a chance to grow as she grew and grow to understand each other."

My original text had a comma after "grew," with no "and" anywhere to be seen. I guess her stylebook said such a line could not stand without the formal contraction. I still haven't forgiven them.

Jenny said...

Busted! You got me. I actually went to Barnes & Noble this afternoon with intent to buy a copy of the magazine, but they didn't have the November issue. When I found it in the library, I decided to copy the article to read later rather than right then. Yes, a breach of ethics indeed. I will correct myself and buy a copy of Family Circle next time I see it on a newsstand. Thank you for keeping me honest!

Steve Salerno said...

Jenny...I was kidding.

Jenny said...

"We even argued our way through Disneyland once when Graig was 5 or 6." There's some wicked karma going on here, Steve. Reminds me of my mother and me. She tells a story of how as a toddler I scolded her for allowing me to drink from a baby bottle, saying something to the effect, "If I was a mother, I would never allow my child to...." To this day, a weird dynamic prevails.