Hey, gang! Welcome to EP 02 of my podcast, “Something That I Wrote.”
If this is your first time checking out my stuff, thank you. Sincerely. It really means a lot to me that you’re here. I hope you dig it. I tried my best, I swear.
But if this is your second time visiting, I’m particularly grateful. Maybe you liked what you heard last time, and you’re hoping you like what you hear again. Maybe you liked what you heard last time, but you’re hoping you won’t like what you hear again, because it would mean that I’m a phony one-trick pony, and a hack, and knowing that might help you sleep at night. Maybe you didn’t like what you heard last time, because it was too vulgar or too rambling or too real, but because you’re such a sweetheart, you’ll give me one more chance. Maybe you didn’t like what you heard last time because you couldn’t stop wondering just who the fuck Serena was supposed to be, and it sent you wandering down rabbit holes you never let yourself go down, even though it would probably do some good, and you swore you’d never ever listen again, but you saw what this one was about and you thought maybe it was about you, so you’re back to find out for sure. There’s a Carly Simon song I’d love to start singing right now, but I won’t, cause you never liked my voice much anyways.
No matter what the reason is, if you’re back, I’m so so grateful. I’m grateful, but it’s a lotta pressure. There was a lotta pressure last time, but there’s even more now, I think. I gotta prove I’m not a fluke. I gotta prove that the words I write are worth your while, and I gotta prove it twice a month. That’s a tricky thing to pull off.
So there’s a lotta pressure this time. And all that pressure’s made worse by the fact that this story has not been seen by anybody’s eyes but mine. The last one was fresh, but it had already been read by a few smart people, whose opinions I hold highly, like the members of the NOTL Writers’ Circle, and my cousin, and my aunt. They liked it, for the most part, so I felt a bit less insecure. I didn’t need this good hard drink. Not as urgently, anyways.
I haven’t got that same comfort with this one. And I feel vulnerable. So please don’t hurt me, okay, baby? Please don’t hurt me. Please?
But I suppose the pressure is a good thing. At least it keeps my head on straight(ish). And it’s made me write a bit more carefully, since my eyes have now adjusted to the darkness of the theater, and I can look out from the stage and see faces in the crowd. Especially yours. Now that I know I’ve got an audience, I’ve gotta start thinking twice about the things I say. There are things I have to take into consideration now that I’ve never had to before, like the names of the characters. It never used to matter much whether my protagonist was named Jim or Bob or Suzie, but now it does. Because if I give a character the name of someone I know, they might think the character is based off of them. Depending on the person, this may or may not be a good thing. I don’t wanna bruise egos, I don’t wanna break hearts, and I especially don’t wanna get sued, so I gotta keep my eye on this sorta thing now. It was hard to think of neutral names for this story, but I think I got away with it. Except for one.
The main character of this story is named Steve, and I left that in deliberately. There are a few significant Steves in my life – not the least of whom is my partner-in-crime on this podcast – but this story’s Steve is based off of one in particular.
When I was in university, I had a roommate named Steve. We lived together all four years. I did not know him when we started, but I now consider him one of my closest pals. I hope I always will. There are many wonderful things about Steve, though I think what amazes me most about him is how consistently nice he is. He is truly a gentleman. He will give you everything he has to give you, and then say sorry that he can’t offer more. And he doesn’t do it for any glory, and he never gets anything in return. It hasn’t gotten him far, but he’s never stopped being a good guy. It’s just the kinda person that he is. He’s just a good guy.
I started thinking about a story about summertime and Springsteen and highschool heartache, and I have no idea why, but I started to think about Steve. I started to imagine him, at sixteen or seventeen, and then I started writing this story. It’s not entirely him, of course. There are parts that are nothing like him. There are parts of the story’s Steve that are definitely traits of other people I know, including, like last time, myself. In fact, there’s a part of me in every character in this story, and I’ve realized that although I’m reluctant to admit it, there’s a part of me in every character I’ve ever written. Especially the bad guys. But this story’s Steve is a lot like what I think of when I think of my old roommate, and so, I thought I would leave the name. I’m a little bit worried he’s gonna take offense to it, since the Steve in the story calls himself a loser. But I hope he doesn’t. Cause there’s an old song by Tom Petty that I used to listen to way too often as a kid, and its chorus goes “Even the losers get lucky sometimes.” I think that’s an important lesson, and I hope it’s the kinda lesson people take from this story. Even the losers get lucky sometimes. Now, I don’t necessarily know that this is true. But through my life, I have learned many things from rock n roll songs – I’ve learned more from a three-minute record, baby, than I’ve ever learned in school – and so I believe it. And even if it’s not true – if the losers don’t get lucky sometimes – at least it makes for one heckuva soundtrack.
Now, I think I need to mention one last thing. This episode isn’t perfect. I don’t even necessarily think it’s possible to make one that is, but I think some of this one’s mistakes are quite glaring. I fucked up my reading a coupla times, missing beats and stumbling over sentences, like a drunk stumbles over his feet and his friends and his pride. But I decided to leave them in. I hope that it adds sincerity and authenticity. And I think sometimes, some things are better when you can spot some of their flaws. Like a good rock record. Or a highschool romance.