Serpent Blog

The Serpent Box Letter: A Writer Needs a Good Book 
January 17, 2002
Higher Grounds Café, San Francisco


I feel antsy today. I feel tightly wound. I think there are several reasons for this, but the main one being a lack of any good story to read. I do not however lack reading material. I am currently reading Steinbeck’s Journal of a Novel, Hemingway’s Green Hills of Africa, The Idiot’s Guide to the Bible and of course, The Bible itself. Of these only the Bible is providing any direct source of inspiration.

But I need a novel. I’m desperate for one in fact. I started Ha Jin’s Waiting, but it begins at a slow and plodding pace and I want to be swept into something. Perhaps you can recommend a novel by an author I have never read. Something astounding. Assume I have read nothing, for in fact, I have not. Oh, how I wish I had majored in English Literature someplace nice in New England. What a wasted education I had. This is my biggest regret. And it stems from a lack of a role model and mentor as a boy. It is essential, imperative, crucial – to take a young person under one’s wing and help him to find his path. My mother was a fabulous cheerleader, she was, the source of my confidence. But I needed a guide, a captain. Still, I would change nothing if I could.

Now to the book. It goes so incredibly slow. My daily word count is unimpressive. If I was living alone in a cabin somewhere, it would not matter, I would work on it forever if need be. Time. Money. Distractions. These are the enemies of the poor writer. The rich writer has different enemies. But those are his to worry about.

I wonder Andrew if you have ever fly-fished, and if not, if you desire to do so? One of my dreams is to spend my dusks hip-deep in cold water. Working flies. Can you imagine that? Shall we build our writer’s cabin by a stream? Think about it. I’m going to work.


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