I’ve been asked what demons must haunt a septuagenarian for him to think he could begin a writing career at this hallowed point in his life? Good question and maybe Hugh MacLeod has the best answer:
““Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back, please.”
― Hugh MacLeod,
Yes, thank you, I want my crayons back.
In prep school and university all I ever wanted to do was write. Like others before me the Americans Faulkner, Hemingway and Fitzgerald dominated my thoughts until the great Irish, English and Russian authors took center stage in my life,
I would be another Hemingway, right, the Pulitzer Prize winner. That macho icon of American letters. He loved manly pursuits in bullrings, fishing boats, big game hunts and, of course, the bedrooms that surrounded those.
I met Hemingway in 1961 shortly before he committed suicide . I was traveling for a women’s apparel company selling skirts and matching sweaters to small retailers in the North West. I was in the bar (my usual location in those days) of the Sun Valley Lodge in Ketchum, Idaho. Hemingway had a home there and was a regular at the lodge. The bartender told me Hemingway would be in later that evening as was his habit. I waited, it was about 10:30 Mountain Time, the bartender was a man of his word and introduced us.
The great man barely said hello to this kid suffering from hero worship. He probably wondered if I was old enough to drink. He turned back to his scotch, double, straight up, no ice and ignored me.
It was just months later that he took his own life with a shotgun. He had lost much of the virility that had sustained him over the years, at 61 he couldn’t bear the thought of not being the man he once was.
The 1950’s and 60’s were a romantic period in my life. All I thought about was becoming a celebrity author and emulating the best sellers in both writing and, of course, lifestyle. I would fantasize about the Algonquin Round Table in NY where Dorothy Parker, George Kaufman, Harold Ross et al would hold court and drink themselves into a creative milieu that more often than not only they understood!
Those were heydays for the great American writers and their romanticized way of life.
My god, how I wanted that, still do.
(will continue this odyssey in days to come, stay tuned)