Lately, every time I post something here, it's an apology for my absence. So here's another one. But I have a reasonably decent excuse. No, the cat didn't eat my homework. I've been busy writing -- and, finally, selling. This is not the best time to be blowing my own horn, given Harlan's serious health issues/ In fact, I only learned of his stroke tonight, and I'm praying as much as I'm capable of praying for him to make a full recovery. Because, to be completely honest, I wouldn't be writing the next announcement if it weren't for him.
I sold two articles in one month -- my first professonal sales, something I tried to do beginning at the age of 13. I' guess I'm a late-bloomer, but I finally did it. I have a piece appearing in tomorrow's (Friday) Wall Street Journal, on the Opinion page. It's an elegy for the demise of Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide, which I first learned was no longer going to be published in Unca Harlan's Art Deco Pavilion. The other, much longer, article will appear in the November issue of Commentary, about novelist and screenwriter Budd Schulberg. So naturally this is a major milestone for me, and I have you guys to thank, along with Harlan.
Why? Because it was the intellectual jousting that I was doing with you -- Steve, Ezra, Mark, Lori, Chuck, Frank, and the rest of the gang -- that got me writing again, first in the Pavilion, then in the various forums, then in my own humble forum (this joint, of course), and finally for the blog I set up over the summer. That led me to think that certain entries I had in mind could easily be articles if I fleshed them out. So I haven't been posting, either here or on my blog, but working on pieces, sending them to magazines, and amazingly gettimg acceptance emails right away. It's happened so quickly that I can hardly believe it's really happening.
As for Harlan, he was the one who, earliler in the year, I believe, answered my question "how do you manage to do it all" with a lengthy response that included the line "Chops. It's having the chops to sit down and do the work, and keep doing it." And the fact that he'd taken me seriously, and even expressed some appreciation for my various stabs at wit, made me think: He's right. You ultimately have to just sit down and do it. If not now when? Get cracking! So I did, and it's turning out better than I could have imagined.
So while Harlan is undergoing a struggle to survive, I'll be thinking of him and how he palpably inspired me, and hope I get the chance to tell him that when he's better. And you guys (and gals) have contributed immensely to this former wannabe finally, after many years, becoming a pro.
Now if only I could iron out the kinks in that short story I've been working on....
"Thought is a strenuous art -- few practice it, and then only at rare times." - David Ben-Gurion