Saturday, February 14, 2015
Me (Moi) Part 3
I had to write a longish bio for an upcoming online book promo. Since I’m too lazy to write a blog today, I thought I’d offer a three-parter on me me me me me me. This is part three. That’s all. I promise.
I wrote and sold The IFO Report; the novel was optioned for a movie that was never produced. I was hired by a UN organization to help start up a magazine and given the opportunity to travel all over the world writing about the organization’s projects. I stayed there for more than a decade, and then decided to strike out on my own.
I returned to school and got the necessary creds to become a drug and alcohol counselor. I worked for several area rehabs and ended up in the world’s most depressing job—dispensing methadone to heroin addicts. For hours on end I sat behind a bulletproof plate glass window, taking in soiled five dollar bills and buzzing addicts in so they could get their daily fix. This gave me the incentive to write The Thirst (formerly titled The Girl, the Drugs, and the Man Who Couldn’t Drink), a novel dealing with the dangerous lives of recovering addicts.
Last year, I was nominated for a Pushcart Prize following a story published in Chrysalis magazine. I didn’t win but, still and all, it felt good.
I write because it’s what I know how to do, and what I do best. I don’t necessarily believe in God-given talent; in fact I’m pretty sure putting words to paper is nothing more than a craft. You become good and better at it by practice, much as a cabinet-maker gets more skilled the longer he’s at the trade. My favorite saying is, “Writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.” Mary Heaton Vorse, a labor writer, said that a century ago and it’s still true.
I write every day. I write blogs, novels, short stories, non-fiction books and the occasional play. It’s feast or famine with a preponderance of famine, but that’s okay.
I believe you need an enormous ego to write, and monstrous chutzpah to really believe that one’s thoughts and ideas will be of interest to others. Thick skin is a prerequisite; writers live amidst rejection—from agents, publishing houses, editors and readers. This being said, writing is also the only endeavor where I refuse to indulge in false modesty. I think I’m pretty good.
Three years ago I was diagnosed with bladder cancer. I’ve undergone eight operations and three courses of chemotherapy, and at this time I still don’t know whether I’ll be cured. It’s scary and has not been pleasant. I’ve written at length about it, because that’s what I do.