Monday, May 8, 2023

The New York Road Not Taken

I never did go to New York. A young writer just out of college I stayed in Chicago although I had been to New York many times. I even went for a full week and stayed in Brooklyn right before Christmas and slogged around from one agent to another dropping off horrible manuscripts until one annoyed agent burst out, "this is not how its done." Nothing came of my week in New York and I went back to Chicago to be the struggling writer. But I am haunted by the might of been of going to NY. I should have. I should have taken my shot in the big apple. If for nothing else to see what would have happened. It is where you go when you are young and want to make it as an artist. I knew that every time I went there. This is where I should be. All the big writers it seemed were launched there. The brat pack of McInerny Brett Eastion Ellis were born there. That was my group. My time. But I didnt make the leap. I stayed in Chicago and cranked out my prose and sent three queries a week to NY publishers but never followed them. The letters came back and rejected all that I had sent them. And then of course I got married and had kids and that door closed. The window to go was when I was broke, hungry and desperate. Which was of course the reason I didnt go even though I do remember considering it and talking about it with friends and family but I never did it. The closest I would come would be the week I stayed there and long weekends where I caroused with friends who had moved to NY. Thinking back I could have easily proposed I move in with them, but I never did. And when I finally broke through and had a two book deal with Bantam and a big advance and a big agent I went to NY and had dinner with my publlisher and agent in an upper east side restaurant and then went out and got smashed and the next day walked Manhattan on a Sunday and bought two first edition Fitzgerald collections of short stories and then flew back home. And now twenty five books later one could make the case I did the right thing by staying put and producing the work. Some say NY is so hard that the creativity dries up with the struggle to survive. Some are crushed by the Big Apple. Many return with their tale between their legs. But others, others are launched into the stratosphere from that hot melting pot of creativity that is New York and end up in the stars. You never know, but I wish I had found out.

Books by William Hazelgrove