Monday, February 9, 2015


And while we're talking about writers, I'll tell you that I know a lot of them--novelists; tech folks who put out those incredibly complex computer manuals; and others who write and edit the legislation of the land. There are a screenwriter or two, a playwright specializing in children's theater, a couple of poets. I know one splendid young woman whose books are so amazing and beautiful that she should be a household name but isn't. One good friend is the British author of historical romances that have sold in the millions.  There are Pulitzer Prize winners from the old days at The Washington Post, and a science fiction author who has won the top prizes in the genre. I even know one lady who writes dirty limericks, though the buyers' market for that is pretty slim. The most widely distributed—if not read—of them all, though, is probably the author of the safety warning found on every can of Duron paint manufactured and sold throughout the North American hemisphere.
Some write by the pound, others specialize in haiku-like brevity. Every writer I know follows some rite of creation. The woman whose fiction I so admire sits among orchids, wearing earplugs. A few must be hungry; one has to just have been fed. A novelist friend can only write in his bathrobe. It is old and needs replacing, but he is persuaded that his talents will vanish if the bathrobe disappears. When he washes it—he does so twice a year—he will stand by the washing machine until the cycles are done. He dries it outside because he wants the terrycloth to benefit from the sun's Vitamin D. My friend C does a set of calisthenics, running in place, followed by deep breathing and stretching exercises before hitting the keyboard. Interestingly enough, none of the writers I know smoke, though a lot drink and do other drugs.
All in all, writing is the height of self-centeredness. One of my books comes in at 389 pages, and contains 112,742 words. Another novel I recently finished is set in Paris just after World War I. It is 456 pages long after editing.
I look at such numbers and think of the conceit necessary to produce a book. I am amazed by the fact that I believe, really believe, readers might spend several hours over several days wandering through a world I invented and peopled. Who the hell do I think I am? A writer, I guess.

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