Journey of an Article Idea

Have an article coming out in Alaska/Horizon Air magazine. It’s a nice publication and the editor, Michele, is a dream to work with. I got to thinking about the circuitous path of this particular article and thought I’d track it’s journey to publication.

The article is called A Crewcut For Flash, A Little Off The Sides For Green Lantern, though we’ll see if it hangs onto that moniker when it’s published in January. It’s a fun, little homey piece about my memories of going to Norm’s Barbershop with my Dad every third Saturday in the little town where I grew up. My intro to the barber’s chair at three or four created a traumatic experience for me. All I remember is a steel creature with teeth buzzsawing around my neck as pieces of my head fell away around me. Such is the imagination of a preschooler. But one Saturday, Norm hired a partner who took a notice of my interest in comics. As I hesitantly climbed in the barber’s chair he instantly regaled me with tales of the latest superhero who’d come in to get his locks chopped. Firing questions at him about The Flash, Hawkman or Spidey I’d soon forgotten all about my fears and in no time my hair was cut and I learned something new about one of my beloved comic companions. It was a lesson in compassion and joy and one I never forgot.

The memory solidified into a 900 word essay in the summer of 2004. By August I had a polished draft and began submitting it to magazines. It went to some regional magazines and then some other in-flight magazines. Editors seemed to like it but didn’t quite know what to do with it. So I kept to submitting.

And submitting…

2010 brought more rejections and some close calls with The New Yorker and The Saturday Evening Post. I was running out of markets and was wondering if the piece belonged in the fabled writer’s trunk where manuscripts go to live; kind of like The Island of Misfit Toys.

Toward the end of 2011, ‘Crewcut‘ had been submitted 62 times. I don’t know if that’s tenaciousness or denial. But in November, Michele, the encouraging editor from Horizon Airlines with whom I had published several pieces in the past asked if I had anything lying around. Well…

So ‘Crewcut’ will finally be found in the pocket behind the airline seats and pulled out to be periodically read between the serving of peanuts and soft drinks somewhere over the skies of the Pacific Northwest. And Norm’s Barbershop will be remembered and the little piece that didn’t seemed to have a place to live can finally come home.

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