A Piece of My Mind: Being a Writer
Bennet Pomerantz

Everyone pays the piper but only a chosen few get change for what they do
   ~ Unknown

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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About the Writer:

Bennet Pomerantz is a media review columnist in 175 newspapers with his weekly column AUDIOWORLD. His fiction and reviews have appeared in the pages of Affaire De Coeur, Gateways, Mystery Scene, Power Star, The Hot Corner, Washington Entertainment Magazine, and many others. He is also known for his review appearances on the MCN Forum. View his web site at Audioworld.