“Mr. XYZ?!” Mrs. Cart hollered in front of the seventh grade class, “You want to write about Mr. XYZ?! This is supposed to be a paper about heroes. Do you even know who Mr. XYZ is?!”
. . .
The plan was to write a term paper that made me look cool. I chose an unsavory character from history. One who I’ve referred to as Mr. XYZ. Mrs. Cart didn’t follow the plan.
Back home, I paged through the Encyclopedia Britannica, looking to please her.
George Washington. Boring.
Thomas Jefferson. Boring
Abraham Lincoln. Boring.
Axel Rose. Taken.
John F. Kennedy.
The theme music for the film JFK blared inside my twelve year-old head. Three months earlier, Oliver Stones’ film suggested my first non-fiction idol. I wanted to be him as much as Luke Skywalker. I now had details in my hands to support those feelings.
I wrote the paper on JFK.
I turned it in.
Mrs. Cart read it in front of the class, said something about my turning things around.
I had written every word to get back into her graces and it worked.
I had found an acceptable hero. One that I fantasized about being.
I crafted a narrative. I was adored for it.
. . .
I had sold out, compromised.
But remained true. At least to what I wanted to believe was true.
My journey as a writer began.