Monday, October 25, 2004


A writer named Harry Crews taught a fiction writing class I took at University of Florida in about 1978. He didn't complete the term, but I learned a great deal from him in the few sessions he managed to spend with us.

"A man's only got so much juice," was one of the things he said. "He's got to watch where he squeezes it."

A statement like that could be a metaphor or just an innuendo. It almost doesn't matter how he meant it. I could see he was putting himself through a pretty serious wringer at the time. He was probably in his 40s, a time when people who have lived hard begin to feel old. I was in my 20s, full of various juices, and fairly indiscriminate about where they hit the ground. But I'd been tired a time or two. I knew I would get more tired, if I lived that long.

I've now lived that long. I have also treated my physical self better than Harry was treating his. So the squeezed-out feeling has hit me later and doesn't last as long.

The juice is more than physical. It is mental energy. It is time.

Maybe it was just a tossed-off remark by a hung-over professor. Maybe it was a calculated attempt to say something profound, which yielded only a trite observation. It said something about his low juice levels at the time that he simply said that, and shortly afterward gave up our class.

It was not the end of Harry. I was glad to find that out.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Who reads this stuff?

A weird guy named Joe said a wise thing one winter night in a hut on New Hampshire's Mount Adams. He said he needed to do some writing, because if you want something written you have to sit down and write it.

Writing is easy. Just write. Getting read is something else. Getting paid for it is yet another thing. But in the beginning you have to write.

This is a new format for me. We'll see how it goes.