I write because I enjoy it. Or, rather, I enjoy the end result: a story well-told. The process is another matter. Choosing the words (words, words, words — so many words, with so many possible shadings) is where I get caught in a thicket.
I have worked as a journalist and half of that process is relatively easy: gathering the facts. But then there's the challenge, done on the hurry-up, of corralling and ordering the facts in an objective manner.
I have a deep and abiding respect for both the English language and the difficulty presented by using it well. I try to be very careful in my own writing (although I know my own writing is by no means perfect), and I have very little patience with bad writing. Writing isn’t for sissies. There are tons of bad writing clogging the marketplace. I will argue with my last breath that just because an author’s work is popular and sells, doesn’t make it good.
What’s good writing? Suffice it to say I don’t believe most of the bilge on best-seller lists qualifies.
More later …
For now, these are autobiographical snippets or vignettes arranged chronologically. They are episodes from my past I’ve found entertaining to write down. They’re not great art, but I had fun. They’re subject to revision, so the version you see here this week may be revised if you return next week.
Bicentennial weekend :: When I first saw the movie Risky Business with Tom Cruise, one of the scenes that gave me the biggest personal laugh-out-loud was when the parents of Cruise’s character, Joel, admonished him about all the things he should and shouldn’t do while they’re gone on vacation. The capper was when Joel’s mother closed with “Just use your best judgement, dear,” which was exactly what my mother said to me prior my parents going out of town and taking my sisters with them.
Falling for a plummy accent :: I moved to Boston in September 1977 to go to back to college and be closer to a former girlfriend. But the former girlfriend left Boston eight months later and in mid-July 1978, I met my ex-wife K, whose accent was plummy enough for two people. For almost five years, I was quite captivated. By my definition, a plummy British accent is rich, laden with the implicit hauteur of the British middle class and spoken quite distinctly. Sentences rise at the end, creating an unspoken question with which listeners are expected to automatically agree, or God help them. There’s none of the flat, clipped mumble of Prince Charles and his ilk, to be sure.
Sex and Drugs and Rock ’n’ Roll :: Ian Dury’s song of the same title pretty closely describes, in a very droll fashion, what my life in Boston with K was like from August to December 1978. It’s not a time I look back at with pride, but it’s not a period I’m ashamed of, either, due to its brevity. I learned a lot about people, found out first-hand the havoc that can be caused by recreational drug use, and met a low-level Mafioso. Yep, I had an experience that, upon reflection, makes the wise guys in The Sopranos very, very real for me.
Better times, but … :: A week after a rather melodramatic and angry confrontation with my loopy roommate J, K and I moved into a quiet, out-of-the-way, rent-controlled apartment. Moving two miles put us worlds away from the chaos that had ruled our lives for four months.
Thomas Wolfe was wrong :: Many people I’ve talked to over the years have had very mixed feelings about going to their high school class reunions. For all those who seem enthusiastic about seeing friends from their youth, there are an equal or greater number who simply aren’t interested. And there are a few people for whom high school was torture, and are thus very reluctant to visit that part of their past. For the most part I was miserable in high school, but I managed to slip through quietly, and didn’t have strong feelings one way or the other about reunions. But I finally got curious enough that I decided to go to my 25th high school reunion in 1994.