I married a very talented musician. And everyone knows it. Whenever we run into people from his past, he’s known for the mark he made on the world, as a musician. Back in the 1980s he had one album, a video on MTV, dozens of articles in noted magazines, and a great following. His creative success came early in life and everyone remembers.
Me, on the other hand…
I was a late bloomer when it came to my creative career. It was always inside me to become a writer, but I was shy about it. I had grand plans of starting a fanzine as a teenager, but when it came time to call management to score interviews with rock stars, I chickened out. Nevertheless I was determined. I took a day job and took writing classes via snail mail. This was in the 1980s, before online colleges. I submitted maybe one article to a magazine and received one rejection slip. I finally got the nerve to perform poetry in front of a live audience. I was great. My poetry was okay, but I had a strong deliverance. The applause and positive feedback inspired me to do it again. And again. I had built my own small following, performing in coffee shops throughout New Jersey and New York City–Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan. During this time I began getting articles published in magazines, newspapers, and finally online. I even became an award-winning journalist. I was able to make a career in publishing for decades. I wrote five books. I received royalty checks. I got an advance for one of the books I wrote. And two of them were sold in Barnes & Noble. It doesn’t get much better than that. I did it and I can die happy.
But, to be honest. That is not what I’ll be remembered for. Unlike my husband, when I run into old acquaintances, I’m remembered for who I dated. Is it because I’m a woman? Is it because people pay more attention to musicians than writers? Or is it because some of the guys I dated were cool and that’s how people connect me?
When I write about my writing career, or public speaking career, on Facebook–or back in the day, Live Journal–people barely bat an eye. But put up a photo and all of a sudden it’s major attention. I think the bottom line is, sensory processing. It’s easier to look at a photo than to read an article. It’s also easier to look at art or listen to music. Words are harder to come by. The majority of people don’t read. They don’t even read this blog. They press “like” so I could go check out their pages. (But trust me, if I “like” your page, I read it. I’m an honest person, I wouldn’t want my “like” to support something I disagree with.)
That said, perhaps the art of like, love, infatuation, dating, is more intriguing than writing–to the average Joe. People want to know how I met my husband, or if I ever hear from a certain person I dated anymore, or why a certain relationship ended, blah.blah.blah. It’s so dull compared to legendary articles I’ve written. My all-time favorite article was for New York’s Westsider magazine back in the 1990s. It was a review for the play, “Mercury: A Rock God.” My lead was about how coincidental that Freddie Mercury died of AIDS in his 40s, and he also wrote the song “The Great King Rat” about a man who died in his 40s of another sexual degenerative disease. No one ever talks about that. Or about the legends I interviewed like Tommy James, Henry Winkler, Marianne Williamson, David Avocado Wolfe, Carol Alt, and Oleda Baker, to name a few.
No. They want to get to the dirt. Or keep a woman down.
Not long before the pandemic, I had a book signing event at a library. Afterwards I stopped at Whole Foods to pick up some groceries. A woman who was friends with one of my exes was working in the cheese section. She ran after me. I thought it was to say “hello” but she just wanted to talk about my ex. I quickly changed the subject and said, excitedly, “I just got back from one of my book signings!” She didn’t want to hear that. She RAN away from me! A 50+ year old woman was so intimidated by the fact that I was making a living as a writer, she felt the need to get away from me asap, as if I was a leper!
Are we still in the 18th or 19th centuries? Is writing — or anything in the limelight — unsuitable for women? Why are we still being identified by who we are dating and who are husbands are? I’m a rare gem who makes a fellow gal feel comfortable. When I meet a male friend’s wife, I want to know about HER. Not her relationship with HIM. Why can’t others follow suit?
I say this to not only men, but to other women….
If a woman is a writer, it’s because she needs to be heard. Somewhere along the line, she wasn’t. Perhaps she was shy as a youngster. Perhaps she was a late bloomer. Perhaps she was told as a child, “Children should be seen and not heard.” Perhaps she once or twice had a domineering, possessive boyfriend who wouldn’t let her say much. Perhaps she has a circle so tight, not many are invited in, yet she wants to share honest thoughts that some can relate to, even if they live halfway around the world.
Don’t ever belittle a writer. She may be hurting just as you are. Don’t ever belittle a writer. She also is much stronger than she lets on to be. Don’t ever belittle a writer. She did make a career as a writer. You can turn your head to her accomplishments, but deep down you will always know, they happened. Yes, they did. It’s part of her story.
She is much more than just a lover. She is who she is, not who she has been with. And, like it or not, you can’t deny it.
Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
She is the author of the following books:
“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit:Be (Extra)Ordinary
“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: I Don’t Want To Be Like You
Her fiction book “Love Cats” second printing is now available, under the pen name Krystianna Mercury, from Pink Flamingo. You can purchase it here: Love Cats