God, I love the New Yorker. The magazine came today and I fell in love all over again — I fall in love with it once a week. I love the feel of it. I love the look of it — the typeface and the cartoons and the covers. I just love it.
I already read two articles. One was about James Joyce. I am interested in the novel in English because, as some of you know, I labored for a PhD in the English novel centuries ago — it sure seems like that. Joseph Conrad was my guy, still is. I do not like Joyce at all, except for his short stories, but he interests me in a way. And this article was lovely and fascinating.
And then I read a piece by John McPhee about his experiences as a young writer at the New Yorker. It is so clever and thoughtful and it’s about, to a certain extent, trying to get curse words into that august publication. That’s right up my alley — I write for a family publication and can’t get curse words in, although I grew up, thankfully, in a world using that colorful vocabulary. Brooklyn was good for something.
McPhee speaks about wanting to be a writer and how to become a writer, and I thought back to when I started and how much I wanted it — as much as Melky Cabrera wants to be a good hitter. Thursday night, I drove back from the Warriors draft, drove back with Grant who attended with me as my guest expert, and as we neared home, I said something corny. “I was put on this Earth to write columns,” I said. He nodded.
I meant I think in 800 words. I am fast and concise and vivid — when I’m good, not often enough — and I love the feeling of touching these keys I am touching right now and seeing words magically appear on a screen and then sentences and then paragraphs and then the full 800. What joy!
If I were a poet, I would write sonnets, a quick 14 lines, in and out just like that, the point being made. I write prose sonnets. And I never want to stop until someone tells me I have to.
That’s what John McPhee and The New Yorker made me think about this Friday night.