Friday, July 22, 2016

Self-portrait, William Saroyan

Writers of the Purple Rage

"We are all men of letters waiting for the mail." --William Saroyan

I once stopped writing and vowed never to write again. The reason was that I had received a 10 page single-spaced letter written by a man who claimed I'd killed his mother. She was found dead with a copy of one of my books in her hand.

I wrote the accuser back saying that the poor woman had actually died of boredom. The book she was reading happened to bore me as well, not to death, you understand, but to the point of distraction.

So for three years I stopped writing. What a vacation ... from myself. But then I started getting more letters. Curiously, it seemed that those people who weren't dying to finish my book really liked it. I was in a quandary because quite a few begged me to write another book on the same subject -- cattle mutilations and alien space abductions. I went to my unread letter file and found that I'd tossed a bunch of letters into it. All of these were written to me during my so-called writer's vacation. There was a letter from a guy in prison who said my novel was "liberating." Another from a librarian in Ohio who begged to know when the second in the series was available. Still another from a woman in Alaska who said I had written in "the true vein and spoken to her people." Lastly, a Hawaii native who praised my book and said, "If circumstances direct you to write back, then we'd be happy to get your letter and we'll take it from there!" There followed an inscription in Hebrew and some indefinable codes.

Saroyan used to say -- in addition to the above -- that real writers get letters. They do, they surely do. And I am happy to say that I have actually completed the cattle killer book and it was sent off to the publisher.

I await the next accusation, implication, condemnation and infatuation. I am here. I don't expect any dead ravens, as George RR has received.

Maybe just a hamburger or two.