In the past, I have considered myself a writer…not an accomplished one, but a pearl in the making. I’ve been at it since I was ten, using No. 2 pencils and a Big Chief tablet. At that time, I seriously considered becoming the next Mark Twain if I could somehow channel his spirit and process his talent.
I soon gave up on that dream and changed course to become the next John Steinbeck, although he was still alive and writing at that time. I read his novel, “The Grapes of Wrath,” which was a daunting feat at the age of ten, but I made it through the book in a few months, understanding about a third of it, and when finished, considered myself a literary genius. My mother politely busted my bubble, reminding me I was still a kid with a Big Chief tablet that was a pretty good reader that wrote cute little stories about my friends and animals. I did send a rousing story about our neighborhood idiot to our local newspaper, the Fort Worth Press, but never received a return comment. I watched the paper daily for months, expecting my story, written on tablet paper, to be published. I likely offended someone in the guest editorial section.
My late aunt Norma introduced me to the alien world of books. She and my mother taught me to read at six years old. Until then, my childhood was watching cartoons, producing elaborate play battles of World War 2 and the Alamo with my neighborhood friends, and dealing with the bad boys across the tracks, “the hard guys.” My next-door neighbor, Mr. Mister, an Air Force veteran and an aircraft designer at Chance Vaught, was our neighborhood mentor…his wife, Mrs. Mister, was our second-in-command mentor. She was also a rabid reader of books and a devoted disciple of American literature. Although from California, she loved our revered Texas authors, J. Frank Dobie and Walter Prescott Webb. Larry McMurtry hadn’t come along yet, or she would have followed him to his Archer City home and camped on his porch.
The reality of my situation is such that I may never get a book written and published. I have started on one but am stuck and can only go as far as the few chapters I have produced; I’m not sure if the world is ready for a Horned Lizard ( a Texas Horney Toad ) that turns the tide in the battle of the Alamo. It’s a tale for children, but some adults might find it amusing after a few drinks. My wife believes I still have it in me, and she may be right. There are days when I feel the spirit and will churn out a short story about my childhood experiences or what happens in my small town and the state of Texas. Sometimes I write about politics, which I shouldn’t do, as anyone wanting to write serious stories, poisons himself when he enters that gladiator’s arena.
Recently finishing one of J. Frank Dobies books, and in the middle of another, and once again, I feel the spirit and yearn to write again. Short stories, anecdotes, and tall tales are well and good, and I grew up reading and listening to them as told by my uncles and grandfather, but my gut tells me to write “the book.”
Below is a quote from one of our famous Texas authors, Walter Prescott Webb. His quotes and campfire tales alone are enough for their own book. He is right, of course, about writers and authors, himself being one. I am guilty of all the below.
A quote from Walter Prescott Webb, a famous Texas writer, and historian.
” It takes a good deal of ego to write a book. All authors have an ego; most try to conceal it under a cloak of assumed modesty which they put on with unbecoming immodesty. This ego manifests in the following ways: 1. The author believes he has something to say. 2. He believes it is worth saying. 3. He believes he can say it better than anyone else. If he stops doubting any of these three beliefs, he immediately loses that self-confidence and self-deception. That ego, if you please, is so essential to authorship. In effect, the author to write a book spins out of his own mind a cocoon, goes mentally into it, seals it up, and only comes out once the job is done. That explains why authors hide out, hole up in hotel rooms, and neglect their friends, family, and creditors….they may even neglect their students. They neglect everything that may tend to destroy their grand illusion.”
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