Have you ever wished there were a way to find the best books on a particular subject? Welcome to Ben Fox’s Best Books series, a website for finding and discovering stand-out works on a delightful variety of interests. Many thanks to Mr. Fox for including my book, Survival Skills, in this amazing project, along with five other outstanding works sure to please animals lovers everywhere.
Thomas Mann wrote that a writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. Could there be a better definition? While others use words to communicate, writers understand that words hold greater magic, that when pieced together in just the right combination, words give us passage into our deepest selves. We write to discover what we know. We write to set ourselves free.
I often think of words as blackbirds wheeling above a wire. I know I can coax them down; I’ve done it before. I know they will settle into a tidy line, and that this line, while not perfect, will at least be coherent. As I am no Shakespeare, this process will take an absurd amount of time, and some of the birds will have to be shifted around many times. Eventually I’ll recognize that I have exhausted my potential, which is when I stop and click save. One more idea wrested into words, one more swipe at the great mystery. Tom Stoppard wrote: “I don’t think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.”
Others might pity writers, might call it tyranny, this compulsion to hunt down the meaning of our experiences. Why isn’t living enough for us? I don’t know. I need to write about that.
How peaceful it must be to be done with each day when the day is done. All this sifting and sieving, this endless analyzing—I can’t say I’m any happier for the effort I’ve expended (nor a penny richer, but that’s another blog). And many times I wind up with nothing. Words are tools and sometimes they come up short, sometimes they fail me. Or I fail them.
Scant recognition. Slight compensation. Dubious value. Impossible odds.
Life is short. Mine will be over long before I’ve learned how to live it. You’d think I’d just stop this mad chase. Go play. Have fun.
Maybe I will. After.
As one of the contributors (“The Side Bar”), I am pleased to announce the upcoming publication of Main Street Rag’s Of Burgers and Barrooms. This exuberant collection of prose and poetry, featuring 140 authors, encompasses the hilarious and the heartbreaking in a delightful exploration of bars and fast food restaurants. Please follow the link to MSR’s online bookstore page where Of Burgers and Barrooms can be purchased at a generous discount prior to publication.
“Main Street Rag Publishing Company has been publishing our print magazine, The Main Street Rag, uninterrupted since 1996. Among its features are poetry, short fiction, photography, essays, interviews, reviews, and commentary.”
I am deeply grateful to Joseph Levens, editor of the Summerset Review, for reviewing my short story collection Lovers and Loners. Mr. Levens has published several of my stories over the years, and I continue to benefit from his kindness, guidance and wisdom. If you are not familiar with this fine journal, please take a look. “Founded in 2002, the Summerset Review is exclusively devoted to the review and publication of unsolicited fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.”
I wish to thank Rebecca LeBoeuf of The Penmen Review for hosting this interview. I hope you’ll enjoy our conversation about the craft of writing and the challenges involved in being a writer.
The Penmen Review is Southern New Hampshire University’s online journal for creative writers, featuring resource articles and spotlight interviews, as well as prose and poetry chosen by the editorial board from submitted work.
I am honored and delighted to have won second place in this contest for my story “Savages.”
On The Premises is an online fiction magazine founded in 2006 by Tarl Kudrick and Bethany Granger.
Stories published in On The Premises are winning entries in short story contests launched each December and June. Each contest challenges writers to produce a great story based on a broad premise supplied by the editors. Winning stories are published in each April and October.
I am grateful to editors Tarl and Bethany for this opportunity and distinction.
My gratitude to editor Jessica Bell for sharing my essay, “Writing, Secretive Dogs and LGBT Literature” in the current issue of The Artist Unleashed, a provocative and inspiring blog for writers and readers. Jessica invites authors to share their creative ideas, and each Wednesday she posts them, providing the featured authors more visibility, while fostering encouragement and motivation. This is a great site on which to contribute your writing, questions and comments.
I love this poem by Ted Kooser. It is among the many poignant “postcards” in his collection WINTER MORNING WALKS: one hundred postcards to Jim Harrison.
Fate, here I stand, hat in hand,
in my fifty-ninth year,
a man of able body and a merry spirit.
I’ll take whatever work you have.