Spent 25 years writing for the cheap sheets. Then, after a while away, I shot for the impossible from the cheap seats.
I returned to writing. I called it Author-ized in ’18…
Why? Because it sounded good and slogany, and that’s exactly what I needed right then as I built pages like this one.
And I don’t know how many companion sites on social media platforms before I went with the ones I liked best. That MFA program I was in, you see, required me to write an entire book. I knew that from the start; in fact, it’s one of the primary reasons I enrolled to begin with. It was a way of moving beyond the Round Tuits I kept piling up and writing that book I’d always talked about. Lord knows, I’d been threatening to do so long enough, but when I celebrated my forty-fifth birthday a little over a year ago, I had precisely no pages of it written despite every best intention I may have had of writing that book in my twenties. Of course, I had things to see. Stuff to do. And probably yours and my share of beers to drink.
And I did, too. All of it. Yours and mine both, I’m sure. Then, a not-too-shabby career as print journalist popped up on my horizon, and before long, I had a family to care for. Sure, I was writing, every day and then some at most places I worked. Even won a few awards for my efforts. But while I was busy seeing the great wide wonder of it all, filling my days with other people’s stories, I never got around to any of my own.
Truth is, I was a hellova lot farther away.
I was tired of it, honestly. Yeah, I got to write a few good stories and do some pretty cool stuff, writing lost its luster for me. Like most things, for every sparse diamond you may dig up, you spent days upon months about neck deep it mires of shit so vast, you can only pray you have enough energy to make it to the end of the day so you can do it all over again. When my paid writing job and I parted ways in 2010–as many longtime print journalists experienced right about then–I couldn’t have cared less. If anything, I was relieved, especially when I discovered I could get a job as a walk-on at a construction site and make more than I ever did writing.
Part of me wanted to laugh out loud that I’d gotten that job simply by being at the right place at the right time. A dude who didn’t speak a word of English didn’t show up one day for another dude who didn’t even have a green card. I got hired simply for being there, and at day’s end, the fellow who didn’t have a green card agreed to keep me employed, and so long as I continued to show up, he’d pay me what the fellow who couldn’t speak English got. Sad part was, you couldn’t even land an interview for the job I’d lost nowadays without at least one college degree. I had that and then some, plus I brought two decades of experience to the table along with stacks of awards. By months end at my new job, sinking tiny screws into walls, I got a $3 an hour raise just for showing up every day. I now made way more than I ever could writing.
Fucking sad is what that was.
Of course, life often has a way of making you appreciate a thing or two, usually right about the time you start whining about how much of a rut you’re in. And damn it all to hell if life didn’t fuck me good with the next couple of doozies it slung at me. Pissed me off so bad, I swore I’d never write another word again.
Didn’t even sign my name unless I had to.
Funny thing is, though, one detail that really stood out for me from that entire quarter century I spent chasing stories on constant deadline involved this look I used to get whenever I introduced myself as a professional writer. Why? I dug how it sounded. No other reason. But unless I was talking to another newspaper geek like me or a truly polished politician, you could count the seconds on one hand before as this weird, glazed look washed over the other person’s face. They may be all smiles, grasping your hand, but no sooner than the vibrations of the word writer got past your lips, you could watch the though process manifest in bodily actions, as if they heard every word I spoke, they just weren’t sure what language those words were in or how I’d found time to become quite so fluent in it.
Can’t tell you how many times I saw that look.
But no sooner than I say to hell with all that and start doing some real work, like building buildings or shaping massive chunks of steel, those same glazed looks from before began appearing on many of those same faces I knew from before. Only thing was, then, they were all telling me how I really needed to get back to it. Quite nearly without fail, they start tossing about words like gifts and talents–stuff that crawls up my spine and makes me want to step out of your own skin for a while–just can’t please some people, it seems.
Of course, those jobs, too, wound up going the way of the dodo bird. So did that family of mine. All about the same time this MFA program appeared on my radar, one that required me to work on that writing I’d been honing for all those years. It would provide the deadlines I needed to put this whole book thing together. Nothing like a deadline to get you off your dead ass…
But getting it written was just part of the problem I faced. As my first thesis advisor told me–yeah, I said FIRST thesis advisor, but that’s another story and fairly long conversation–but in addition to her surprise that so little of my book was actually written at the time, she was smooth appalled I hadn’t yet been published by the literaries yet.
That degree I was shooting for wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on if I hadn’t yet gotten published. Back when she started, you needed a good book or three published before you could land a teaching post at a college. Ironic, ain’t it? Just a couple weeks after telling me all that, she was job hunting herself following a letter from the dean about how they’d be headed this other direction
So, it was now or never, far as writing went. Could an old fart like me learn a new trick or two?
You’ll have to be the judge of that, honestly, because despite what this piece of paper I’ve since gotten that labels me a master of said craft, I know just enough about it all to readily admit I don’t know shit. I’d toss over stories to the publishers almost as soon as I’d written them. I summed up the process fairly well in the first few pages of Long Gone & Lost: True Fictions and Other Lies, which became my MFA thesis, a collection of ten original stories told in 225 pages (vii – viii):
Just know, it had to be done. All of it was necessary—my personal prerequisite—a requirement to my becoming the storyteller I always wanted to be. Of course, I become still. Always will, probably. Become, that is. Not quite ever approaching that image of storyteller I hold in my mind, yet always striving, nonetheless.
So, I sent several of these stories out as individual writing submissions during the drafting process, hoping to see them snatched up by publishers who rained heaps of money on me, begging for more, as I worked hard at adjusting to my own island paradise.
That never happened, in case you’re wondering.
In fact, it proved mighty dismal, initially. Eighty-seven kinds of dismal, precisely, because that’s how many rejections I got from the various literary magazines from January to April of 2018. Quite nearly one a day. I wanted to cry.
Finally, though, somebody didn’t say no. I didn’t know what to do. I mean, I’d developed such a routine for dealing with the rejects—open email, scan quickly so as not to put all my weight on the sharp edges of the word NO, print it out, punch some holes in it and add to binder with the rest—I didn’t know how to act when one finally got published. So, I just sat there, staring at it. Truth be told, I think I cried a little, after all.
That notification came the final week of April 2018. In the months since (up to the start of December 2018), the number of total items published in literary magazines, anthologies and writer organization publications, has grown to eighteen, including short fictions, like those you’re about read, poems and prose pieces.– Bobby Horecka, Long Gone & Lost: True Fictions and Other Lies…
I went on to say that six of those eighteen publications in 2018 were stories from my ten-story collection. It’s actually just four stories, two of them published twice now, in separate publications. They include:
• Mr. Man Candy, in the May 2018 edition of Bluestem Magazine, published by English faculty at Eastern Illinois University since 1968; and as an excerpt in the May/June 2019 edition of Down in the Dirt, published by Chicago-based Scars Publications.
• The Legend of Chunk, in the inaugural Central Texas Writers Society 2018 Anthology by Nicole Metts, ed. (released on Amazon.com in August 2018); and in the May/June 2019 edition of Down in the Dirt, a Scars Publication.
• Lubbock 1974, in the October 2018 edition of Amarillo Bay, published by English department faculty at the University of South Carolina since 1999.
• Forget the Alamo, in the Winter 2019 edition of The Ocotillo Review, published in February 2019 by Kallisto Gaia Press.
Other publications are listed immediately to the right, just beyond the margins of this piece. Do they measure up to all that Author-ized in ’18 business? I doubt it. I mean, could anything really? About the only thing I can guarantee is that it’ll be a little bit outlaw and plenty off-center. Most everything I’ve ever done was, anyway. I don’t suspect my writings would be any different, particularly not these writings…
I’ve got the entire package making rounds in front of a few possible publishers now, so I can’t really publish much more about it than I have already. Until then, here are a few oldies but goodies mixed in with some of newer items. I’ll add to this list and the one at right periodically. They ought to get you started, anyhow.
Hope you enjoy!
A month after Gramma celebrated her ninth decade, she went to bed one last time at her home. She died sometime in the early hours of Sept. 7, 2018. Members of the family asked Bobby if he would write her eulogy. This is what he came up with.
She will be forever missed…
“. . . Even as kids, you sense its mortality. Summer’s about gone. By then, you’re full-on summer grooving. None of that amateur crap like in June. Plus, you know your days are numbered. You wanna make it count. You’re a bit more adventurous, a bit more courageous. . . “
“River ice jamstuck bridgebent, bang crackpop. / He boards his jeep / then engines it alive with a twist / the BIG clattering tit /
& rather than / wrangle away / straightaway /
as we all thought he might / he sat there /
contemplating his poopec . . .”
POEM PUBLISHED: Alchemy Literary Magazine | May 2018 Edition Portland Community College (Portland, Ore.) Why You (Dis)sin? 5.1.2018
“The Alchemy 2018 editors would like to congratulate you on the acceptance of your poem “Why You (Dis)sin?” for our publication. We are excited to work on this thought-provoking piece. Thank you for allowing us to publish it.”
(After as many rejections as I’d gotten before this, I didn’t know what to do…)
- POEM PUBLISHED: Alchemy Literary Magazine | May 2018 Edition
- Portland Community College (Portland, Ore.)
- My Little Girl
” . . . tearsangerhatreds despised / sometimes I’m glad I can’t see / my little girl’s eyes / till, my little girl / turned 21 / today / and I can’t / even call her— / my little girl”
SHORT STORY PUBLISHED: Bluestem Literary Magazine | May 2018 edition Eastern Illinois University | Charleston, Ill. Mr. Man Candy (text version) 4.30.2018
“I always take him with a few grains of salt. Not too much. I mean, dude’s always been on the rotund side, and he’s got a heart condition, for Christ’s sake. But don’t take everything he tells you at face value. You just can’t . . .”
NO TIME TO READ IT ALL YOURSELF?
Then let the Outlaw read it for you. Yep, the whole damn thing. So, kick back and enjoy!
There’s Mr. Man Candy (the full audio version), too… Bluestem Literary Magazine | May 2018 edition | Charleston, Ill. Produced by Eastern Illinois University’s English Department since 1966
When was the last time you heard a grown man performing the part of a geriatric Playboy Bunny whose libido rivals that of a 17-year-old in the backseat of a Buick trying to wrench open that zipper on the back of the prom queen’s gown?
That’s far too long. But trust me, we’ve got you covered . . .
Award Winner in Las Positas’ 2018 Annual Poetry Contest Second Place Entry out of 350 Poetry Submissions
POEM PUBLISHED: LPC Havik Anthology RISE | May 2018 Las Positas College (Livermore, Calif.) Hipster Jesus
” . . . maybe / Jesus would / go by . . . the savior / formerly known / as Jesus. / That’d be / so much / cooler & / hipper for / a hipster, / don’t you think? / (But) don’t forget / Jesus loved / you before / you got so / damn cool, / & that applies / to happening / Hipster Jesus, too . . .”
POEM PUBLISHED: LPC Havik Anthology RISE | May 2018 Las Positas College (Livermore, Calif.)
“I remember a boy / clumsy, cotton-topped / following that old man / around, every-where / hat stuffed with newspapers / hulking, over-sized . . . “
NEWS STORY: Riders of the River, 2008
They may seem right out of the Old West, but truth is, these fellows are our real first line of defense against invading terrorists. If you’ve ever eaten a hamburger, they are, anyway. This won AFBF’s Best News Story in 2009.
AFBF’s BEST VIDEO NEWS STORY 2009: Originally aired on the RFD-TV Network Produced/Narrated by Texas Farm Bureau’s Ed Wolff Writing/Interviews/Videography by Bobby Horecka
It wound being the most costly drought in Texas history, but sometimes it’s not so much the money involved as it is the people. This story, it’s video companion and the website they launched won a trio of AFBF bests in 2009.
NEWS STORY: Mexico_Costa Rica 2008
Just as Texas livestock officials stopped a load of Canadian cattle bound for Mexico at the Rio Grande, livestock leaders from the Lone Star State headed south into Central America to meet with their counterparts, meetings that ended a near decade-long ban on live cattle trade from the United States.
Ever get sick and tired of people bragging about something that ain’t all that? I did. Then I wrote this. I’ve seen it pirated a few times now, but it managed to catch the Texas Press Association’s eye for Best Editorial in 2005.
It’s not every day one finds poetry on a news page, but for this particular story, it just seemed appropriate. I wrote this piece while serving as managing editor in Sealy, TX, USA. It got voted Texas Press Association’s Best News Story in 2005.
Hurricane Ike put a hurt on the Lone Star State back when he blew through, shutting the lights out on nearly half Texas for at least week. But none had it near as dark as young county agent, fresh out of college, still finding his way around the new job, and leery as hell of a redneck reporter who arrived on his stoop one day. He later told me they read these words when they named him agent of year in College Station…
It was a just goat….
But every once in a while, it can be so much more. Published in Texas Agriculture, the Waco Trib and by The Associated Press.
Sometimes all you need is a good burger to get right with the world. I didn’t write this but I’m proud to say, it was written about me in Forbes.
That should get you started. Like I said, I’ll add to this list periodically as I locate them. Hope you enjoy!