The Blue Jeans Philosophy of Life and Writing

Last summer at Art in the Park, the realization struck me that everyone in my field of vision was wearing blue jeans. Men in basic, straight-legged jeans. Boys in baggy jeans that hung to their knees. Girls in cut-offs or low riders. Sophisticates in designer jeans. Heavy women in pleated jeans with elastic waistbands. Arty women in skirts fashioned from jeans. I’m sure they all thought they were dressed uniquely, but I saw the sameness: blue denim.

That’s when I came up with my blue jeans philosophy of life: be an individual — like everyone else.

Last night I extended this philosophy to include the publishing industry. I was reading a debut novel written by James Lee Burke’s daughter, and it was no different from thousands of others I have read. It was written well enough, but there was nothing unique about it. And, if by chance, it had been unique, I’m sure the publishing industry would have pulled her into line and edited out anything that was different. It seems as if what they are looking for is a high level of mediocrity: books that are original — like all the rest.

If you can understand this philosophy and put it into practice, there is a good chance that you will succeed in life and in your quest for publication, but there is no hope for me. I have never owned a pair of jeans, never even worn a scrap of denim.