Vaughn C. Hardacker here. Several years ago (2004 as a fact) I was a member of a writer’s group that met at the Exeter Public Library in Exeter New Hampshire. We were a diverse group in what we wrote and over time became a clique. One evening a new person
joined us. He wore a cowboy hat, boots, and all of his his clothes were as black as Johnny Cash’s. He introduced himself as Ronnie Jay and said he wasn’t sure that he’d fit in with us as he wrote country music songs. He also said that he’d just moved to New Hampshire from Nashville, Tennessee. That week he listened and when we broke up, most of us doubted we’d ever see him again. Much to our surprise Ronnie returned for the next meeting and said that he didn’t want to attend empty handed so he’d written a poem. My head filled with visions of a country ballad filled with drinking, jailhouse blues, and lamentation over lost love. What we got was anything but. In fact in a single page of poetry Ronnie hit a note within all of us, especially since most of us were unpublished and those of us who were had either self-published or published in online eZines.
Here’s what Ronnie read.
The Unknown Writer
I’m an unknown writer
Creative as they come
But, there’ll come a day, I dare say
I’ll be a famous one
I’ll write a #1 best-seller
And oh, the riches it will bring
It’ll sell more in every bookstore
Than Grisham, Crichton or King
I know you won’t believe me
And I can’t make you a believer
But, if I don’t believe in myself
No one else will either
Yes, I know it sounds impossible
To reach those heights of fame
And I realize that I may never
Be a household name
But, it doesn’t really matter
If my dreams do or don’t come true
I’m still gonna keep on writing
Because that’s what writers do
When he was finished reading, the entire room was silent. He sat back and said, “I guess you don’t like it.” I replied, “Just the opposite. You hit the nail square on the head. In a few simple verses you have voiced how every writer feels at one time or another.” Then I asked him if I could submit it to a newsletter a group of us were publishing. He gave his approval as long as he was given credit for it. I readily gave him my word that I would ensure that his name was listed as the author. Ronnie disappeared after that meeting, he had mentioned he was considering returning to Nashville as that was the capital of the country music scene, and we assumed that’s what he did.
I have not heard of Ronnie since so I’m publishing his ode to writing hoping that should he ever see this, he’ll approve. To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never heard any of his songs (at least I don’t think I have) but I never forgot him and how he hit the bulls eye and got to the heart of how many of us writers feel. Then again, I would imagine the struggle to get your work published (recorded?) must be as tough for a song-writer as it is for a mystery/thriller writer. So Ronnie, in the event you should see this blog, get in touch with me.
I hope you find him, Vaughn.
Thank you, Vaughn! I wish Ronnie had been able to set his poem to music. It would have become a classic to rival “Paperback Writer”!
Hi Vaughn … I love the poem, too. Art is art, and songwriters, well, write, as you so eloquently said. I googled “Ronnie Jay” — you got me interested! — and got several hits. One is for a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/TheRonnieJayDuo/about/?tab=page_info Gayle
Really cool mystery. I did what Gayle did and found the same guy.
I love both the story of the mysterious Ronnie Jay and the poem. “A stranger walks into a writers’ group…”
Believe it or not Steve Pickering (who just happens to be a Maine writer and private investigator) emailed this to me!
I’m not sure that you remember me but we met at Murder By The Book at the Jesup Library last year. I read your blog this morning about Ronnie Jay and thought I would try to find him for you. This is what I came up with:
Ronald Melvin Janvrin, aka, Ronnie Jay, 110 Campus Drive, Hendersonville, TN 37075 (Sumner County) He’s 68 years old and holds a current Tennessee driver’s license with that address. He lived in Dover, NH (among other towns in NH) at the time you met Ronnie Jay. (615) 265-8298 is likely the best phone number for him. I couldn’t find an email address for him. I hope this is the right guy. Good luck!! It was a great poem.
I’m going to try and touch bases with Ronnie and give him a link to this blog!
I am friends with a man named Ronnie Jay. He lives on the outskirts of Nashville. He released a gospel CD. His wife’s name is Rita. He is also the keeper of my husband’s heart. He received a transplant in 2009. I do der if they are one in the same?
Ronnie and I have been in touch. He is the beneficiary of your husband’s gift of life.
This is my father Ronnie
He and I have corresponded via email and he is your father. He told me that you haven’t been in touch for a while. I too have lost contact with my daughter and have no way of contacting her. If you would like to contact him here’s what I have: