A Piece of My Mind: Being a
Everyone pays the piper but only a chosen few get change for what
In real life, we are what we do. I'm a writer. That's what I do.
Everything I do in a day is in some way connected to it. If I get up and I
have my Grape Nuts with raisins or I get laid or I shoot some pool or
whatever it is that I do, I'm thinking about writing. It's all involved in
the creative process. There is no system. The totality that is my life is
how I write. When I get up and when I write is different every day, but
every day, I write. People say, 'Oh, you're so prolific.' That's a remark
made by a--holes who don't write. What else would I be doing? If I were a
plumber and I repaired 10,000 toilets, would they say, 'Boy, you're a really
prolific plumber?' I'm a writer. I have been for 30 years.
~ Harlan Ellison (from a 1985 Starlog interview)
I was at a workshop in Manasas, Virginia a few years ago. During a break
in one of the panels I was on, this young man proclaimed loudly at the top of
his lungs "Pomerantz, I write a whole lot better than you do!"
In a way, this was like an old John Wayne western. This upstart kid was
challenging the aging shootist. I did not buy into his play. I just said "I
bet you do."
" I bet I can write more stuff than you do." He said smugly in his retort
Again, I just said without emotion, "I agree. Congratulations."
He was dumbfounded. "You are congratulating me?"
"Of course I am. I would want other writers to move onward past me. You're
admitting you have."
"But you don't know me?"
"No, I do not. But maybe something I said in a workshop or advice you
heard from me has helped you in some way. In my thirty year career, I
have helped other writers like Jeanne Spicer Evans, Lisa Noel, Melody Ravert, and Tom Restivo. Some have succeeded higher than me in many ways.
Others had their moments of glory. It's not jealousy at all, it is being
proud at others growing in this career I love with a passion and enjoy
talking about all the time."
"But you did not try to disagree."
I smiled, "And why should I?" He did not know what to say and left
baffled that I did not do some sort of writing competition to prove he was
better than I.
There was a Twilight Zone episode called "A Game of Pool" with Jack Klugman
and Jonathan Winters. Klugman is a local pool hustler that assumes he could
beat the great Fats. The Ghost of Fats (Winters) played him for the title of
the Greatest Pool Player of All Time. There's even a nice message in the
episode about how you should take time out and enjoy life. There's more to
life than pool. Klugman is too far into it to understand that, though.
I think the same ideal when I think of writing. You can be the best in
the writing craft, but if you don't take time for family and friends, your
life may suffer. A career takes time and does not happen overnight. Most
want an instant career and kick themselves when it does not come to pass.
I learned this lesson the hard way. In my early years, I was game to
write anything and do anything to get my name out there. I was a hot shot,
full of myself. I had to learn to pace myself, but I burned my candle at
both ends. I was hungry for fame and success, most of the time it did not
come. What I should have done is took my time and learned my craft better,
rather than working all the time. When I did the offers came.
After a week-long visit to the hospital, I got a hard lesson in life.
Nowadays I tend to take time to smell the roses. If there is a little
league game, I predetermine to watch and enjoy the spirit of the young
athletes. I may think of work, but this small getting away from work does
clear my head . . . so I can write and create better
So I hope you've enjoy my little slice-of-my-life. Enjoy what you have now.
Savor the joys while you have them, because your family will not write on
your headstone HE WORKED HARD FOR A LIVING.
Til Next time, Reach for the Stars!
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