The Entertainer

Dear Pain in the You Know What Booker Prize Winner:

I know my infinitely patient wife gets tired listening to me, so let me bother you this morning.

Seriously, you know today is my uncle’s sixth anniversary. He can’t be gone that long? Where the hell has the time gone?

I like to think he would think I have “grown” and “improved” as a writer since he read my work early on. With this nearly finished latest novel, I have I think REALLY and TRULY lost my mind far more than I had with the previous two… and I had at the times thought I had done so with those two in 2017 and 2019. You have seen some of the coming novel, but what you have seen of it… well, I have to confess that’s nothing compared to what you have NOT seen yet. LOL!

[Photo by me, my desk, Potton, England, October 12, 2021.]

So after it is published, I am going to “pause.” I plan to write nothing for publication for at least a year. I know, I know, I have said that before, but I would like to try to stick to that this time.

You know too what readers never really see: that writing fiction is actually quite fatiguing on the mind. It leaves you drained. After nearly two years on this latest novel, I am (mentally) exhausted once more and feel I have to more than ever before step back, relax, read more of others’ writings, and recharge. I need some new “inspiration” as well: for the first time since 2013, other than the vaguest of vague ideas, I have no new book ideas even in the pipeline. And given what I have written since 2013, I think I am entitled now to a “break” of sorts.

I write for my readers, NOT for “John Author” or “Susan Writer” out there, so I am sure as hell NEVER joining an “authoring group” on Facebook. You have read about that Dorland v. Carson writers’ group nonsense supposed “controversy” – “borrowing” ideas and “mining” the experiences of writing “friends” for your fiction. Too many writers are so ego-driven (often with so little reason), it is no surprise that all ended up in court and in the New York Times magazine in one of what felt like the longest pieces since, uh, War and Peace.

Reminder: it is not just writers who “mine” from real life, of course:

[From Instagram.]

By the way, I swear if you ever publish or “mine” from one of my emails here, I will murder you. We’ve known each other long enough, though, that I have lots on you too. So if you try to drop me in it, so help me I will drop you in it too. I am going to need new ideas, remember: “It is a tale of a writer who lives in Vermont and is lucky his wife has not left him yet…” LOL!

Also, yes, that was an excellent long excerpt you sent. My main quibble with it is not grammar or style, but that it is lacking in humor. I don’t mean laughing out loud stuff – we are not comedy guys – but rather just amusing bits that are not always heavy. If you have one fault, it is a tendency to believe you are right and everyone else is therefore wrong and if they don’t see how right you are they are stupid. Not that you do that all the time, but you do sometimes.

There is always a danger given the pressures to write well in addition to the notions out there that books must MATTER, that I think some of us writers (and even some readers) take all of this too seriously. Fiction may well be serious, sure, as is life. However, life also has humor. Meaning we have to remember that we read for fun, too, so I think a smile or even a laugh or two is often such a pleasant surprise in what might otherwise be a serious book. After all, for our own well-being, we need to smile in life, too.

[Photo by Mental Health America (MHA) on]

I do my best to remember when I am writing that for readers reading fiction is not supposed to be like being in school. There should be to degrees enjoyment in reading. So even in writing stuff that may be “heavy,” a writer needs also to be entertaining.

Speaking of “entertaining,” moving on to here in current real-life Great Britain. Yes, yes, yes, there is petrol – meaning gasoline – here again, but there always was and the country is NOT falling apart. What we saw there was the media’s ability to create a panic… and the real dangers now that may be caused by “too much” media yammering in our over-media-saturated world.

My personal experience. I filled our car as NORMAL on the Thursday morning, then during the day that Thursday I started to hear mumblings on radio and saw on the BBC web site “chatter” about “concerns” about “petrol” and “shortages” – “petrol” and “shortages” being two words that must NEVER by used together EVER in public. Immediately I thought: THAT’S IT, THERE WILL BE LINES! Sure enough, on Friday morning the petrol stations were packed. (By the weekend, we had BBC people driving up and down the M1 looking for petrol… as if that is “journalism.” LOL!) So whoever leaked to media that private BP report to the Government about a shortage of truck drivers should be, frankly, sent to the Tower at least – including if it was a BP employee.

By the way, it’s October 12: Is Vermont buried in snow yet?

Say “Hi” to Bernie for me.

All the best (and I warn you, don’t leak this email to anyone! LOL!),