"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

More from Roy

The header quote I recently added atop my blog came out of the latest Authors Guild Bulletin. I've been a card-carrying (really, it's tucked in my wallet!) member of that organisation for exactly 22 years, dating from the moment I signed my first book contract as a shockingly young and ecstatic and optimistic dewy-eyed newbie.

Roy Blount, Jr. is our current President. (I'd gladly elect him President for Life, but I think there are term limits.)

I've been his fan and admirer for so many years, love every book of his I've read, spent a fair few years in his hometown of Decatur, GA, and am over the moon whenever he turns up as panelist on my fave radio show, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me on PBS. (Check your local listings!)

Roy provided additional gems in his "From the President" letter. His essay's overarching theme was author cussedness and the randomness of our income stream and the challenges of this economic era.

Selected quotes:

"Every day, whatever the state of the nation's economy, we are reminded how imprudent we authors are. But rather than compound that imprudence by putting our unlikely earnings at risk, we must resolve to protect those earnings, as a dog growls over the odorous bone independently dug up in the woods."

"For 33 years I have been a freelance writer, literally never knowing where my next dollar is coming from, even when I knew from whence it was supposed to have come three or four months ago."

"I want money to support me, my family, and my habit. For me empowerment, by which I mean relative freedom, resides in real estate, that I live in, and liquidity."

Amen to that, Brother Roy.

In a week in which I won't have much--if any--time to do stuff other than legislate, I'm glad to mull over any aspects of being an author--even the boring but meaningful financial one.

The House is in session 3 days straight. Our weekly calendar contains the most controversial and contentious bills of the year. We're staring down a merciless deadline, and it's not blinking.

Some of these days will most likely stretch into the night. There are even times, like tomorrow at 5:30, when I'm somehow supposed to be in 2 places at once--down from 3. And again on Thursday morning when duty requires that I be in Representatives Hall voting on bills, and also testifying on a Senate bill for which I'm a co-sponsor, on behalf of a specific group of constitutents.

Added to that pungent mix, it's unseasonably cold, it's windy, it's mud season. A lot of people are already cranky and impatient. Shut 400 or so into one big room together...well, you get the idea.

I'm surprisingly unanxious about it all. Fretting isn't going to me any good. I'll get through these brambles...I always do.

And yet...in the long hours ahead the stresses and frustrations and uncertainties of being an author will seem preferable to the hard tasks and edgy voices and difficult decisions at hand. I will miss my imagination-feeding solitude amidst dogs and birds and chipmunks and endless cups of tea. And, um, occasional forays into Facebook.

Roy's reminder about the contradictory pragmatism and imprudence of authors seems so timely. Because the same is true of this particular state legislator!

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