The Journal of Paolo Honorificas

With an introduction by J. Scott Malby

Dear Editor;

Paolo and I have been friends for some time. I am a regular at his yard sales. In tribute to the death of the "Queen Mum," Paolo was having a 20% off sale. While rummaging through his offerings I found a pile of wadded paper stuffed inside the plastic case of a pornographic video box. The paper was covered, not only with misspelled ramblings but with assorted raisin stains, tomato juice and traces of other organic and inorganic material too numerous and sticky to be clearly distinguishable. I asked him what it was. "My journal" he replied.

I pawed through the accretia he had written to himself. What I found were journal entries, interviews, grocery lists, old emails, poetry and other assorted jottings. It was savagely average and uninteresting. I remember thinking it was specially remarkable on that account. The "brilliant" or finely crafted examples of journals are the only ones seen in print today. It is rare to find an example of the "really bad" in its original unedited version.

"This sucks so bad it's good, Paolo."

I watched him smile hopefully, exposing a glimmer of greed as he eagerly interjected, "Do you think I can get some money for it?"

I shook my head sadly. "People would pay you to get rid of it. Its execrable. One of the worst representative examples of its kind I've ever seen. However, it just might be publishable."

Paolo quickly lost interest in our conversation as he tried to sell a torn lampshade to a homeless person on the grounds that it would make a perfect sun umbrella. Nevertheless, my conviction grew that Paolo's journal needed a wider, more discriminating audience. It would provide that oft quoted but seldom seen benchmark known as the "lowest common denominator".

The most closely guarded secret in publishing today is that editors lack time, stamina and ability to judge good from bad. Because of this the criteria for acceptance tends to be: "Has someone else had the nerve to publish this person?" If the answer is yes, the editor is then able to say defensively, "What do you know unknowledgable person; 'so and so press' liked his work so much they devoted 10 pages to it!" In the interest of the best I forward to you dear editor, a fine example of the worst. May you and your readers make the most of this unusual opportunity.

Journal entry #1

I have a question for you. How do you make a boring, pathetic life sound interesting? Its what I asked myself as I stared into the evaporating bubbles of a wine glass. If you bought an old vinyl record of "Pilgrims Progress," you would find my life contained on a single 30 second track on the forgotten flip side. One of my few strong points is the art of exaggeration. Hey, it's a cold, cruel world out there, especially in winter. My front door is cracked. It lets in a lot of draft. I'm tired of burning manuscripts in a futile effort to keep warm. Then I thought "Why exaggerate?" I could present my life in the form of a cheesy public service announcement. The purpose would be to make others feel good about their own existential condition.

Here's an example. I have a pet parrot. He bites. It's embarrassing. My parrot gets better email then I do. Once a month I grudgingly fork out $6.95 for his seed. The sad fact is that he made more in perks alone then I did last year as a writer. After four glasses of wine, two options presented themselves. I could fake mental illness in an effort to latch on to that proverbial pot of gold called "SSI" or I could glue the frayed edges of myself back together and rustle up some business. For birdie's sake (his birthday is coming up) I decided to find an alternative to my latest money making scheme of painting yard sale signs for a living.

What do you do when you're own brain busts you for mental vagrancy? After prolonged consideration the "I Ching" approach seemed ideally suited for the occasion. Turning on the computer, I went to a search engine and typed in: "impoverished with a literary bent." On the screen came a list of bizarre names that purported to represent literary journals. Closing my eyes I picked one of them at random. In flashing letters appeared an invitation: "Become A Successful Writer! We do it for less! Only $500." Below that in small letters was what I was looking for. It was a column called "Tips for Writers." There was a free section and a subscription section. I opted for the free advice knowing that just as it might get interesting I would likely find myself in a linguistic sort of phone booth with the operator shaking me down for all my loose change.

The advice I received was brilliant. The simplicity of the scheme was amazing. Don't try and sell your stuff. Give it away free on the internet! If you give enough stuff away someone just might offer you something for it. Coherent, sustained reasoning was never my strong point. The article assured me that this at least would be a way of becoming better known. Unfortunately, what I had most of was poverty. This was not a good sign. Poetry and poverty are synonymous terms. As a freshman in college I once tried selling my poetry door to door. That experience taught me that poetry is not a staple like bread and butter. My price was a dollar per page. I had a number of short imagist pieces. Hidden beneath those were my big guns. These consisted of two epics I managed to stretch out to over twenty pages each. The experience was discouraging. I ended up trailing a door to door missionary giving away free bibles. I didn't blame the people in a crass, anti-art fanatic sort of way. I had courses in economics. If you went by weight alone the bible was a much better buy.

(The scene shifts back to the present)

For two months I trolled the high seas of the internet ocean with my poetic bait. On a dreary Sunday I returned to that most dangerous of all ports, reality. I managed to find a foster home for 30 poems. Seasick but feeling lucky; it was time for me to take stock of what I had accomplished. The ratio of rejection to acceptance emails was three to one. Now, now was the moment to raise sail on that pitiful leaking dingy that represented my resuscitating literary career! On the Google search engine I typed in my name. A reference came up. Chuckling like some mad pirate too full of himself, I clicked on the site. That site turned out to be a forgotten "guest-book" where I had typed an incomplete sentence over two years ago. Not good you might think. I would agree. "Deflating egos" represent an endemic, chronic condition affecting creative artists. The disease is brought on by a number of factors including (but not limited to) editors, unrealistic expectations, the misconception that life is somehow fair and not washing your hands after a session of nail biting while trying to think of something to say.

Look for The Journal of Paolo Honorificas to continue in the next issue of The Dream People!

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