As to your questionnaire: (No. 1, why I got to righten’):
The primary reason is, it was easier than organic chemistry. As a
fledgling adult, I conjured up this vision of me in a white smock, rolling
pills from behind a neat, tidy counter, and ringing up tenfold sales. The
trouble is, chemistry didn’t come nearly as easy as words did. It wasn’t
even a contest. So, I switched majors—this back in the Bronze Age,
now—and started writing. I just accepted the fact that, as a journalism
student, I was doomed to a life of low wages. The upside was, I knew right
from the get-go that I wouldn’t be trapped in a lifetime job I didn’t like.
So I accepted my fate, genuflected before the God Mammon, and said, “Okay,
I’m in position. How much would you like?”
I read fiction only. Right now I’m in the middle of “The Captain,” a
World War II saga of the North Sea by Jan de Hartog. I love sea stories. The
trouble is, good ones are hard to find and I’m midway through this one and
realize I read it, years ago, but it’s worth rereading, so I’m doing just
I pay little attention to the NY Times lists. What I do is, go to my
local library and continue my foray through the fiction aisles. I’ll bring
home a half-dozen books a week.
Six months ago I started with the authors whose names begin with ‘R,’
and have been selectively working my way down the alphabet. Authors I like
(Robert B. Parker, for instance) will cause me to spend more time on that
shelf. Others I discard if they don’t grab my attention within the first
50-75 pages. Right now I’m down to the ‘B’ section and find I’m spending a
lot of time with James Lee Burke. When I get through the ‘A’s,’ I’ll hit the
‘Z’s’ and continue the cycle.
PS. It helps to: a) turn off the TV and b) be somewhat of a speed reader.