Link to my story on Salon is here:
I was “gobsmacked” as the English say, to have had this happen and obviously very pleased since I worked on this for three weeks or more. I rarely do more than the minimum to get my writing “out there” since it is time consuming and I refuse to beg people to post or print something I have written.
At the same time, it is a terrible irony that such a bloody tragedy called forth some of my best writing. I wish it hadn’t. But I am selfish enough to be pleased that my story about the Confederate flag, prompted by the evil slaughter in Charleston, one of my favorite cities, got so much exposure.
Salon has 17 million subscribers, although I am hardly suggesting that many people read it my piece– probably more like ten thousand. I will ask them later. I felt validated as a non-fiction writer. I have always thought my non-fiction was very good but if people who know me think of my writing at all, which I am not suggesting they do, they only think of fiction. So you might imagine how pleased I am to see a piece which took so long to write, and was personally very painful to write, get this kind of exposure.
Only a few hundred people read my blog each day although occasionally I get as many as 400 hits and that is always on posts I never think had a broad appeal. The post on the Panther tank got 400 or more hits in a day.
That the Confederate flag is a racist symbol, is a belief I came to accept after a number of years of thinking about it. Worse, has been the growing use of it by right-wing skinhead fascists in other countries. Nonetheless, I rarely mentioned my opinion on the flag since it almost never came up and I found it very difficult to discuss.
But when I read of the cold-blooded murder in Charleston of nine African-Americans in their own church engaged in Bible study, I was shocked me and I am hard to shock. Given that one of the slain was a South Carolina state senator was even more shocking. All I kept thinking was this is my state and for God’s sake, this group of people were at Bible study. President Obama’s eulogy in Charleston moved me greatly and after that I decided to set down my thoughts in words.
But how Salon came to run this piece is a story in itself and this is what happened. I posted the piece on my blog and my blog automatically posts to my Facebook. A friend of mine I used to work with by the name of Murray Attaway saw my piece on my Facebook and emailed me and said he thought it was great and could he cross-post it and I said ‘sure.’
Years ago, Murray used to be a rock star. He and his band never got the famed they deserved but they were well known in the music scene. I only found out about this after someone at the firm told me since Murray never told anyone. He is from Athens GA and that city, which is a beautiful leafy college town, has produced a number of famous bands including the B52s and REO Speedwagon.
Athens GA also produced another great band: http://www.allmusic.com/artist/guadalcanal-diary-mn0000648097/biography. Murray was lead guitarist, song writer and singer. They toured for years and major labels released 4 CDs which have been remastered and are again available.
Turns out David Daley, the Editor in Chief of Salon used to be a rock music critic years and years ago and one of his favorite bands was Guadalcanal Diary. So that is how he knew Murray and they are Facebook friends. After Murray posted my piece on his Facebook, David Daley read it. He liked it a lot and emailed me and asked if Salon could run it.
His email went into my spam folder! By sheer happenstance, I checked my spam folder Wednesday mid-day and had my cursor on the delete all button but saw an email from Salon. Had to be spam. I don’t anyone at Salon. But I thought ‘what the hell,” and opened it. And there was the email from David Daley. I only googled the guy after two or three email exchanges and only then learned he was the editor-in-chief.
So thank you Murray.
Why is is that such sadness calls forth better writing than things in everyday life? I also must say that I felt trepidation when I posted the piece about the Confederate flag because I am certain that some of my friends in South Carolina will never speak to me again. Unquestionably that makes me feel low. But to me me, a good writer, an honest writer, has to write what is in his heart and gut. That’s what good writers do and I am self-confident enough to number myself in said group.