This is a short essay, originally published at now-defunct, Dog Eat Crow World, on 1/28/2013. My grandmother would pass away just a few weeks later. It has been reposted in its entirety as a way of capturing this moment in posterity.
I sat down not too long ago and finally wrote a short story that'd been festering in me for quite some time, years really. As I am likely to do these days, I wrote it all out in one go. It's based on the National song, "Lemonworld," and the story shares the title with the song. I feel like it might be the best short story I've ever written. Maybe it isn't. I'll let "the market" decide.
I've written three short stories in the span of four months, which makes the latter half of 2012 one of the most prodigious periods of my short story writing career. None of these stories have been accepted yet, though I suppose I'm not pushing very hard either. I now have six shorts that remain unpublished, and with the exception of one, I really like them all. I'm beginning to wonder if I should look instead for someone to publish a collection. A short story collection with my name on it sounds like a joke, honestly, but maybe that's where this is headed. Or maybe all these stories suck and they haven't been published because I'm a crappy short story writer and no one wants to publish them.
That's a definite possibility, too.
I went to California last minute to visit my grandma who is doing very badly. It was very emotional, but I don't really want to get into it here. I'm telling you about the trip mainly because I finally got to see Lincoln. I found it to be strangely depressing. I found it hard to be too happy for all these men who spent their lives fighting for the abolition of slavery, knowing full well that black men and women would neither be able to vote nor have anything resembling equal rights for a full century and quarter after the passing of the 14th amendment. I saw the tears in these men's eyes as they saw the culmination of years, and I could not join them because I knew that what they thought was a culmination was just the passing of one hurdle and the beginning of another, longer race.
It makes you think about your own life, and what is possible, and what you can possibly do to make a lasting impression. It's a difficult thing to do. Time is like waves licking at the shore. No matter how hard you try to leave your footprints in the sand, the water just washes it away. Even supposed great men don't make much lasting impressions. The conquering work of Alexander was practically undone by the time his grandchildren were adults. All that bickering of our founding fathers, which they thought they settled in 1787 with the signing of the Constitution, would come unglued just one generation later, the Federalist papers burned in cannon fire.
I'm not sure what the answer is, but...
I was gonna write more, but this seems like a good place to end.
I'm not sure what the answer is.