Monday, May 31, 2010

The Writer's Secret

“Huckleberry Finn?” I said. “Are you serious, Mr. Hemmingway?’
He chuckled. “I said it years ago. Mark Twain’s writing hasn’t changed since then. At least not that I’m aware.”
“It’s been awhile since I’ve read about Tom and Huck.”
“All the better to read it again. The man was a master at spinning a web of lies. That is what fiction is, you know. Clemens’s words have the power to leap off the page, grab you by the throat, and ensnare your mind. They won’t let you escape their trap.”
I closed my eyes a moment and remembered the first time I’d read the story. Just a kid in grade school. Hemmingway was right. Mark Twain had mesmerized me with the tale. “So,” I said, “What do I do? I’m not that good of a storyteller.”
“You don’t have to be. I’m not.”
“You’re not?”
“Good God, no.” He laughed again, lightly. “I’ve had to work at it all my life. And it’s hard work, too.”
“I thought you were a natural.”
“Not many of those. And I’m not one of them.”
“You could have fooled me.”
“You and a lot of others.” He cocked his head sideways and smiled a mischevious smile. His eyes glistened. “It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.”
Here’s the link to my web page: .
Until next time, that’s it from The Storyman ….

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Best Damn Book

I walked down the tunnel, musing on what Mr. Parker had said. I had plots and stories churning through my mind. Some finished. A couple completed and polished to what I considered perfection. Where to send them? Which to send? There were so many choices. I wondered. Should I revisit the best and try to make them better? Or would that merely screw up a perfectly good story?
A brighter light ahead drew me to a man sitting at a desk in a small alcove niched into the side of the wall. He had a round, almost boxy face and sported a well trimmed white beard. The ancient lamp on his table cast a pool of light on sheets of paper. I wondered. Short story? Novel? Something inspired by his travels?
“Hello,” I said.
He looked up. “Ah. A traveler.”
“More like a searcher and a writer. At least of sorts.”
“You either are, or you aren’t. Do the stories scream to get out?”
“To the point it sometimes drives my wife nuts.”
“Mine too. All four of them. Well... except the last one. She understood.” He looked at me askance. “So you have stories?”
“Trying to decide if they’re good, Mr. Hemingway.”
“Try reading some good ones. Compare yours. How do they hold up?”
“I’ve read yours. At least most of them.”
“Don’t read mine. Read someone really good.”
That surprised me. “Yours aren’t good enough? I sort of liked them. Your novella, The Old Man and the Sea seemed to be well done.”
His eyes bored into me. “No. I mean read the best damn book you can lay your hands on.”
“Which is?”
“All modern American literature comes from one book...” he paused.
“And that would be?”
“Huckleberry Finn.”

Here’s the link to my web page: .
Until next time, that’s it from The Storyman ….