Dear LOL Writer (I'm withholding your name, because I won't want to embarrass you — trying to do you a favor. You can thank me later):
Excuse me if I seem even grumpier than usual.
As you well know, or so I hope, your Living Out Loud column was due Monday. You said that wouldn't be a problem, said it was nearly done and I would probably receive it early. I'm a fool, because I believed you once again.
It's now Wednesday night and I don't have your story, and I can't get a hold of you. You're not answering your phone; you're not returning my e-mail messages. I'm not waiting anymore. I'm killing your fucking story.
Did I mention the fact that I'm angry?
Since I now have to come up with something to write, I think I'll write about my frustration with you and others like you.
You're a wonderful writer and I enjoy your work. You're gifted. You're a free spirit and very creative but you have a problem. You're a writer who doesn't want to write. Please know I run into other writers like you all the time.
I know a student at the University of Cincinnati who also knows how to tell wonderful stories. He practically begged me to publish one of his essays in the column and I said I most certainly would — just send it to me. That was three months ago.
I ran into him on Ludlow last night and asked him whatever happened to the story. He said he's been a bit scatterbrained lately, but was still working on the column. He said he would get it to me in a few days. Of course, I haven't received it.
One of my friends keeps telling me he wants to be a serious writer and is working on a novel. Last year he wanted me to read the first five chapters and wanted me to be honest about how I felt about the words he had written, if I thought they were good or not. I was happy to do the reading.
I thought the chapters I read had a lot of promise and told him so. I encouraged him to stay at it and he seemed excited that I liked it, said that was the fuel he needed.
We ran into each other on the bus a couple months ago, and I asked how his novel was coming along. He said he was still working on it, but had only written a couple more pages. It sounds to me like he's not still working on it at all.
I think I understand creative types because I consider myself one. But if you want to be a writer, then that's exactly what you need to be doing. Talking about it and pretending to write doesn't cut it with me, especially when I'm waiting for your work.
In the almost four years since I've been writing and/or editing this column, I've never been late with a deadline. Never. When I'm doing the writing, I know I won't be late. With the exception of a few others who write here, I'm always nervous that they are going to be last-minute with the submission and most of the time I'm right. I have to hurry with the editing.
This week is even worse. This week I don't have to hurry with the editing, just come up with something else because you, LOL Writer, didn't deliver.
This thing I'm writing this week — this rant — probably won't be very interesting to people reading it, but I had no back-up. I was counting on you to come through for me.
You know what? Never again.
I know you're sorry, and I can hear you now saying it will never happen again. You're right. It won't.
Again, I think you're a great writer and I look forward to seeing your work elsewhere. You won't be in this column. Good luck to you.
Larry Gross' book, Signed, Sealed and Delivered: Stories is in bookstores now and can be ordered through Amazon.com. Check out the Living Out Loud Blog at http://theoutloudblog.wordpress.com/