I am not a writer. And yet I like to write. I find no incongruity to this. I am not a breatharian yet I enjoy breathing; I like eating an assortment of vegetables but I am not a vegetarian. I could go on. A writer might. How do I define, writer? It’s a good question. Certainly I have made a fair amount of money through the written word. But so have English teachers, accident investigators and email spammers. Writer, to me, conjures up images of a manly man like Ernest Hemingway or a Dapper Dan like F. Scott Fitzgerald. In the fictional world, James Caen comes to mind in the movie, MISERY adapted from a book written by another genuine writer, Stephen King. On the female fictional side, Angela Lansbury from the television series MURDER SHE WROTE is my stereotypical writer, no matter how inappropriate that may be.
I have learned, as I so often have, that I am wrong. There is no such thing as a stereotypical writer or novelist. No generalizations can be made. At least not with any accuracy. Except for one. Writers write, creatively. And they do it with such regularity that books appear, electronic ones or old fashioned ones. And I applaud them for doing this. The world is a much better place because of creative writers. A world without creative writers is a world I would not want to live in. Given the choice between creative physical art or the creative thought provoking words of a writer, well, I’ve always been a words guy. That would be an easy call to make.
I like writers. Certainly, not all writers. As Jerry Lewis was purported to have said many years ago, before the internet, before Snopes, “Percentage wise there are just as many assholes in wheelchairs as any other segment of the population.” And if Jerry never said that, well, he should have. My point is that being a writer doesn’t make you a nice person any more than being in a wheelchair for life makes you a nice person. But I have drawn some inferences from the writers I have known and spent some time with, both in California and in Thailand. Writers like to live. Writers enjoy living. More than your average Joe or Jane. And I have a theory as to why that is. Writers are just a wee bit more aware of one inevitability. One certainty. We die. We all die. Writers, accountants, lawyers, dentists and trust fund aging hippies alike. The writer has just figured out, earlier than most, that we should make the moments count. Be mindful. Be aware. To paraphrase that old country western song: writers were mindful before mindfulness was cool.
I like to think I have gleaned many good qualities from writers. And the great part about that is, you don’t have to do any writing to do that. Here is what I have learned. Your results may vary. Observation. Writers have helped me observe the world, better. And what a fascinating world we have to watch. Empathy. Writers need this. Writers have this. Encouragement. One writer in California once told me, “The world needs more encouragement.” He had tracked me down in the parking lot of a gym, just to tell me he thought I had worked out hard that day. He didn’t have to do that. But now I try and be more encouraging. Generosity. Writers are people after all. But these people, that call themselves writers, have been very generous to me. With their time, their advice, their books and their humor. And I wanted to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of them, here. Well, except for the assholes. You know who you are.