Female Soldier, a commission from the Israeli newspaper "Kolbo"

April 1997


The Beauties and Evils of A Day Job

This update is being written Easter Weekend, when everyone I know in New York City is out of town and there's not much to else to do but work.

That's okay: there never seems to be enough time to work on the stories and on this site. March has been particularly tough: I've started a new job, finished rewrites on the play "Giving Up Art", and had a lot of freelance writing assignments - if you like New York City history, check out some of the "Time Travel" lists done for the Daily News website.

Unlike some establishment writers, though, I don't mind having to hold a job while writing. In fact, I think it adds a lot to the stories. "Serious" fiction writers who spend all their time in a room by themselves - or, worse, at awards ceremonies with other writers - sometimes just drift off like a balloon without a string. But I think having to live through the same frustrations and humiliations real people live through is the best experience for writing stories real people will relate to.

There's a great quote in Dreiser's "Sister Carrie", one of my favorite books. I may see a bit of myself in it, since it's about a woman who leaves Wisconsin at the age of 18 and arrives broke in New York, determined to be a big success. Anyway, Carrie's secret soulmate, the electrical engineer Robert Ames, sees her wasting her acting talents and he tells her this:

"You have so much sympathy and such a melodious voice - make them valuable to others. You will have them as long as they express something in you. The moment they cease to represent your own aspirations, they will begin to fade. The sympathetic look will leave your words, your mouth will change, your power to act will disappear. You may think they won't, but they will. Nature takes care of that. You can't become self-interested, selfish and luxurious without having these sympathies and longings disappear, and then you will sit and wonder what has become of them."

I have that quote on top of the file cabinet where I keep my stories.

An Escapade Serial: Glory In the Golden Apple

This is all a rather long-winded way of introducing a new feature to this site - a monthly serial.

As regular visitors to this site know, I am a terrifically slow writer. That's not because I don't work on the stories every day: I do. They just take a long time, and a million re-writes, to perfect. The few stories on this site have been under construction since 1991, and several still aren't finished to my satisfaction - "Blue Flower" and "Charlotte's Mirror" are two examples.

I wanted to write something that could be done (relatively) quickly, updated regularly, and something where I could work in escapades from my own life - a nod to my friend Bruce Johnson, who has always complained that my letters to him are much more interesting than my stories. (This is a bit of a false comparison: those letters are to Bruce, about Bruce, and full of things Bruce is likely to find interesting.)

Even so, I had a lot of good material that was going begging.

And after working so hard on a religious and philisophical story like "Blue Flower", I've gone about as deep as I can go for awhile, and I wanted to write something more light and fun and superficial.

Glory in the Golden Apple is set in a TV station, not unlike the one where I've just started work myself.