One year ago, a relatively unknown football player named Cam Newton hit the plains in Auburn. By the end of the first game, it was obvious to all that the kid was gifted. His golden arm, his speed, his electricity. Not only could he throw and run and read plays like he was reading minds, he was a leader. Of course scandal ensued. Many of my Bama friends taunted, "Yeah, best money can buy." His talent and passion became marred by external factors. But the fact remained that Cam Newton dominated college football last year, even winning the Heisman Trophy--the holy grail.
When the season began this year, with Cam now in North Carolina, we Auburn fans watched the first game with excitement, anxiety, and breath held. Young Trotter didn't disappoint. Despite being in the backseat, he's stepped up to his role leading the Auburn Tigers. He's shown character, intuition, and talent. Yet we've struggled as a team, and even lost last weekend to Clemson, as our defense struggles to find itself after the loss of Nick Fairley.
The commentators, either during the game or on ESPN during updates, all discuss the Tigers in terms of Cam Newton and the wake of his exit. Regardless of Trotter's talent, the focus remains on a ghost who's moved on.
I feel for Barrett Trotter. As a writer, I understand that we can't all be Hemingway, Dickens, Stephen King, or Dan Brown--successes in publishing that become the benchmark for every other writer. Regardless of our heart, talent, and uniqueness, every query letter sent to an agent is compared to one of the "biggies." It isn't enough to simply be good or even a great writer. You must be Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, and--yes--Cam Newton. Almost super-human. Able to produce sales and publicity and branding. It's no longer about the beauty of words. Their poetry. Their ability to encapsulate, ignite, uplift, wrench. Case in point: Snooki has a book. The Situation has a book. Chelsea Handler has lots of books. Because they sell. It saddens me that one of the things I love the most--the written word--has sacrificed itself. I understand that publishers can't exist without money and, unfortunately, these books sell. But there is talent out there. It just needs a chance to throw the ball outside of a shadow.