Will write for food

“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.” – Dorothy Parker

  • I tried writing for money and it didn’t work out.”
  • My parents’ greatest sorrow–other than the fact I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth–was that my grades in English classes were always lower than my grades in my other classes. They knew I was running from destiny before I did.
  • On my first visit to the radiation department to talk about upcoming cancer treatments, the doctor asked what I did for a living. When I told him I was an author, he asked how many of my books had been published. When I said, “All of them,” he said, “Oh, I’m so sorry, but we do have a financial assistance program for the indigent.”
  • I once set up a card table downtown with a poster that said, “Will write for food.” A cop brought me a tomato and mayo sandwich and said, “Okay, ace, write something.” I took out a scrap of paper and wrote, “Mama don’t allow no tomato sandwiches ’round here.” “Buddy,” he said, “you’re no James Patterson.” “Story of my life,” I said.
  • When people look at me funny during a conversation, my wife explains that I’m a writer. That usually shuts them up.
  • On the plus side, when people know I’m a writer of fiction, they think I’m just making stuff up whenever I insult them with one wisecrack or another. This has given me a lot of latitude for saying just about anything to anyone.
  • Most English teachers can sense fear; mine always sensed flippancy. They discovered sooner or later that I thought high school and college English departments were doing their best to train people to hate reading and writing.
  • I was once thrown out of a college English class for challenging the professor’s negative views about journalism. He said journalism was hack writing. I said many of the world’s greatest authors began as journalists. He stipulated that but said they were in the minority, and that most journalists couldn’t write their way out of a paper bag. When I said, “you probably can’t either,” he told me to get out. My father, who was dean of that university’s school of journalism, went over and had a talk with him, ensuring that I was back in the class the next day. Afterwards, I kept out of trouble (mostly) and ended up getting a B in the course.
  • Writing is like drugs. I’ve spent large amounts of time looking for a 12-step program to help me quit. So far, no luck on that.
  • People keep saying that the pen is mightier than the sword. I usually ask if anyone is still using swords these days. When they look at me funny, my wife says, “he’s a writer.”
  • If you decide to write for food, pick something you like. There’s no point in working all day for a tomato sandwich. much less humous. Go for a steak or a plate of oysters or wine that costs $500 per bottle. Otherwise, you’re not only selling yourself short, but you’re eating stuff that doesn’t taste good.

Malcolm