Friday, April 26, 2013

I Was a Teenage Weirdo

The more I talk to people my age, the more I realize that I was a teenage weirdo.  For example, I began preaching when I was nineteen.  I spoke occasionally in worship, consistently as a front man for a church garage band, and also offered a few talks at church camps and such. Weird, man, weird. 

I was also writing like a house-afire during my teen years (and actually publishing material for some pay).  This foray into writing, however, actually started when I was eleven or twelve.  Certainly, pre-teen years, I was already creating my own magazines and paper-sewn chapbooks and novellas.  One summer, when I was twelve or thirteen years old, I recall creating a full blown sports magazine.  I wrote all the articles, created the illustrations, even drew some mock advertisements.  Weird, man, weird.

When I attended Indiana State University as an English and Creative Writing major, I already had piles of writing stacked in my bedroom. I'm talking entire chest-of-drawers full of it.  And I was full of it, too.  I had already worn out one manual typewriter and graduated to a new Smith-Corona selectric with correction ribbon.  Weird, man, weird.

It's taken me nearly four decades to come to grips with my own prolific tendencies.  I've come to realize that I'm not a great writer, probably not even a good one, but in the two to three hours that I write each day, I write circles around most other full-time writers (those turkeys who make money from their writing and have the luxury of sitting in front of their computers all day stewing over a single sentence).  I may not be producing anything that others want to read, but by God I'm producing it.  Weird, man, weird.

I think that's why I like to read Isaac Asimov's accounting of the writing life.  The guy just wrote.  That's why he could sign a 32-book contract and fulfill it in a year-and-a-half.  Asimov wrote ten to twenty hours a day--EVERY DAY--rain or shine.  He never traveled by air.  He rarely ventured outside his sparsely furnished New York city apartment.  When editors called, Isaac delivered.  If one book didn't sell well, the publisher and the writer didn't care.  There would be another book along in two weeks. 

Currently, I have more deadlines to meet than at any other time in my life.  But I'm always eager to take on more.  Weird as it seems, I am always asking editors to send me additional work (hopefully with paychecks attached).  

One editor asked me recently, "I'm giving you a quick-turnaround deadline, how can you possibly get this done?"

"No problem," I said.  "I've been doing it for years.  In fact, if you like, you can move the deadline up a couple of months.  That will give me time to write something else for you after I finish this piece."

He didn't say anything, but I know what he was thinking.  Weird, man, weird.     

No comments: