- Marshall Accepts Bid to 2013 Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman
- Marshall Falls to Rice in Conference USA Football Championship
- MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: Defense Dept. Contracts for Dec. 6, 2013
- Ellen Wilson First Spouse Gold Coin Available December 9
- Guest Column
- University of Maryland Accepts Bid To The 2013 Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman
- BOOK REVIEW: 'The Eternal Wonder': Pearl Buck's Last Novel Manuscript Discovered in Texas Storage Unit
- FLASHBACK: Transcripts Reveal Technetium, Neptunium and Plutonium at Huntington Pilot Plant Concern Over Parking Lot Radiation Expressed
- EDITORIAL: Hypocritical Harry Gives Obamacare Another Surprise Blow
- BOOK REVIEW: 'The Devil's Son': WV Native's Novel Focuses on Cap Hatfield, Who Ended the Famous Feud Between the Hatfields and McCoys
OP-ED: I Am Writer. Hear Me Snore
I take a sip.
I put down my cup
I pick up my pencil.
I poise it over my empty sheet.
I smile at the infinite joy of being able to partake in the creative process. And then…
I fall asleep.
Hey. What’s going on here?
I am a writer. I kiss the rings of the greats who came before me: Charles Dickens, Émile Zola, Victor Hugo, and those brilliant and completely improbable Brontës…all of them nineteenth century authors who wrote under impossible conditions and turned out book after book after book (okay. Forget the Brontës…they turned out an average of one book each and then promptly died).
Consider this: Quill pens. Ink pots. No central heat. NO HEAT AT ALL.
I imagine Charles Dickens in his writing room on an icy winter day, dipping his pen into his inkwell with nearly frozen fingers, scribbling a few lines, dipping again, putting down the pen, rubbing his cold hands, picking up the pen…and back to work!
Dickens wrote dozens of novels, histories, stories and plays. He gave lectures, performed on the stage, went to debtors prison, survived a deadly train crash, and had ten children and a full time mistress before he died of a well-earned stroke while, of course, in the process of writing yet another book.
Emile Zola, under similarly frigid conditions, wrote twenty novels. He also managed to have two children with his wife’s housemaid, protest injustice, be convicted of libel, be sent to jail, escape, and flee to England. After he returned to France, he worked in rooms heated only by coal-gas fires, asphyxiation from which eventually caused his death. He, too, no doubt, was in the middle of writing a book.
Also writing with a quill pen, Victor Hugo produced over sixty books, poems and plays. He endured the death of one daughter, the insanity of another, and fifteen years of political exile in Guernsey. Regardless of the obstacles, however, he wrote, and wrote, and wrote. And who knows? Maybe his devoted mistress (vive la France!) blew on his hands to warm them during cold winters of scribbling on interminable white sheets.
Then we have the Brontë sisters, Charlotte, Anne, and Emily, who taught themselves to write in minuscule script on tiny pieces of paper while sitting around a kitchen table, in a cold, cold room. Despite growing up near a cemetery where rotting corpses polluted their drinking water…and despite the inclement weather, poverty, a cruel father and a drug-addicted brother, they managed to write great, great prose.
Which brings us to me. I have heat in the winter and a pleasant cross breeze in the summer. On hot days, I can go to an air-conditioned library and stake out a table to work. I have retractable pencils, ballpoint pens, and computers to do research, to cut, paste, copy, edit, print out manuscripts, and simplify my every need.
As I writer, I do not live on earth. I live in heaven, with every comfort and convenience easily within my reach. And yet…
If any of my heroes were standing before me today, engulfed in the sublime glow of their literary achievements, I would not ask them how they came up with story ideas; how they coped with prison and exile; how they handled criticism; or even how they juggled their mistresses and wives.
I would merely stare at them in awe, and plead with them for an answer:
How did in the world did you stay awake?
* * *
Copyright © 2013, Shelly Reuben Originally published in The Evening Sun, Norwich, NY - evesun.com Shelly Reuben has been nominated for Edgar, Prometheus, and Falcon awards. For more about her books, visit www.shellyreuben.com. Link to David M. Kinchen's reviews of her novels "The Skirt Man" and "Tabula Rasa": http://www.huntingtonnews.net/columns/060605-kinchen-review.html