Are You Hungry?

I have the finickiest dog in the world. I got the WonderDog from a shelter after his previous owner just dropped him off. He had a UTI, was stuck in a little cell surrounded by animals in far worse shape than he. You’d think he’d figure out that being rescued made him lucky. Taking care of this animal is not cheap—he’s a 70 pound beast. He needs plenty of food, space, toys, baths and grooming, a trust account for his string cheese habit.

The only thing I ask is he eat the fucking food I put in the bowl.

But not Rocky. No sir. This dog is under the mistaken impression that this is Mel’s Diner and I am Flo. He keeps looking at me to take his order. Everyday. And everyday, when I give him the food, he turns up his nose and begs for something different. I tell him to Kiss My Grits. The dog goes somewhere to pout. We do this for hours, even a couple days, until eventually, he breaks down and eats. He doesn’t like it but he’s hungry. So he does what he has to do.

Because hungry things do what is necessary. Hungry things eat.

I’ve always been kind of a rabble rouser. I’m smart, persuasive, and too lazy to pay attention to ALL the rules. And I’m opportunistic. All the makings of a troublemaker.

In high school, I ran an organization for students of color. Not the school-sponsored one, mind you, we made our own, unorthodox, unapproved group. I remember having a meeting after a series of “altercations.” The white students said, “We get scared of you guys during February.” I remember laughing. I tried to calm them down, saying, “You shouldn’t be scared of us during Black History Month.” And then with a straight face: “Be scared of us all the time.”

Be scared of us all the time.

I did an interview for earlier this week. In it, he asked me what I considered the keys to my success. I said, “The literary community is incredibly accepting and helpful. It’s like we’re all in it together.” And it’s true. Authors are some of the most open, helpful, advice-giving individuals anywhere. There are thousands of books and blogs and tweets and statuses on writing. There is no shortage of advice and help and “attaboys” out there.

Right now, my book is dancing on the periphery of the Top 100 bestsellers in the Religious Fiction genre in Amazon’s Kindle store. I’ve made it a sport to watch my rank vacillate up and down like we watched the Dow in 2009. At the top of the Amazon charts—like not the top of a genre—THE bestselling book period is Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. She has the top 3 spots actually. Now I don’t begrudge Ms. Collins her success at all—if we met, I’d shake her hand, slap her on the ass and say “Good hustle!” She wrote an incredible story with a strong female lead (which is sorely lacking these days) that resonates with millions of people. I don’t wish her any ill will.

But Suzanne Collins better watch her back. She should be scared of me all the time.

See, no one mentions the competition. No one mentions that, behind all the advice and how-tos, and retweets and blogging, we’re all trying to kick Suzanne Collins off her pedestal. I’m not only trying to take her place; I want the spot directly above mine. And yours. See, nice as I am, I’m hungry. And hungry things eat.

How hungry are you?

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