Having decided to embark on a voyage whose destination was publishing success, I foolishly neglected to read the all important brochure first. Instead, with naive enthusiasm and the innocence of an unsuspecting child, I painstakingly collected and arranged words, like pennies into dollars until, after months of hard labor, I had enough for an entire manuscript a.k.a the price of my ticket. Happily arriving at the dock on the appointed day, I was indeed allowed to board, only to be unceremoniously directed towards steerage which, I was told, was all the accommodation my ticket entitled me to.
As I sat huddled on the bunk assigned to me, in a dark, windowless corner where it stood, I fished the aforementioned brochure (actually it was an excessively thick booklet) out of my luggage, the contents of which would have to, at least for now, remain where it was, since I was want of a place to store it away. Unable to read the fine print in the gloom, I hurried cautiously back up on deck, not at all sure if I was permitted to venture outside of the ships cavernous bowels. Thankfully unimpeded by anyone, I climbed towards the light, found an empty deckchair to sit on and, donning my glasses, began to read. Printed on 20-bond paper, in Times New Roman, 12 point, 1 inch margins all around, single spaced, it piqued my interest immediately, from the first line.
Each page was adorned by a colorful photograph, illustrating one of the many spectacularly beautiful areas of the ship, the accompanying text spelling out, in uncertain and often conflicting terms, all that a passenger must possess to be permitted entry. The more I read, the more disenchanted and frustrated I became. Moreover, it dawned on me that the things I had meticulously packed, all designed, or so I thought, to make my voyage as enjoyable as possible, were entirely inappropriate, given the ports of call on this ship’s trip itinerary. Additionally, I was made cognizant, (in bold lettering no less), that all third class passengers were required to disembark at each stop, there to collect proof of having set foot on the particular terra firma, otherwise, the text went on to warn, reembarking might prove to be an exercise in futility. It was implied, in what could only be called a perverted gesture of magnanimity, that I would be allowed the ‘luxury’ of taking as much time as I needed to gather the mandatory evidence. “No rush”, it said, “it’s up to you!” The ‘benevolence’ went so far as to provide masses of tips and pointers (many for a fee, natch!) on how to successfully procure the booty in question.
At some point I had to stop reading because darkness had descended, and not just all around me, but upon my heart and my soul. Crestfallen and brought close to tears, I sat for quite a while, paralyzed by newly acquired (in)sight which permitted my mind’s eye to, for the first time, truly behold the proverbial ‘big picture’, the vision of which was augmented (and made worse) by the realization that the completion of this trip, in my case at least, would likely take forever.
It took some time for the ensuing shock to subside, but finally, marshaling the last vestiges of my determination not decimated by what I had just learnt, I made the decision to remain on board, reasoning that, having already spent so much energy on procuring my ticket, it did not make sense to let the enormous effort I had heretofore made, go to waste. I must admit (shamefacedly) that a part of me was also seduced into continuing on, the glossy peaks into all the luxury accommodations I could potentially one day occupy, proving too much to resist. Disgusted by my covetous imaginings, which I took as an indication that my artistic integrity was not as pure as I perceived it to be, I threw the booklet to the ground. It landed with a thud, opening to one of the back pages which I had not yet read. There, in large print, the names of this magnificent vessel, too big to have but one appellation, were clearly spelled out.
For those admitted to the most upper of echelons, it was known as the “Success”. The middle or second class could boast voyaging on the “Aspire”.
As for the rest, we, the beginners, the third class, were all passengers on the “Ship of Fools”.
To be continued…..