What sort of writing do you do? I expect to be living in NYC by this time next year. And rain is indeed a wonderful sleep aid.
I appreciated that he recognized my Manhattan requirement, and even mentioned one of the items I’d listed in the “Favorite Things” category—falling asleep while listening to the rain (try not to roll you eyes with that one). William, 57 years old, was two years beyond my 55 max, but I was intrigued by his profile. I waited a few days to respond. I’ll explain that later.
Here’s what I wrote:
I wrote a memoir that has not been published yet. I got a late start to writing–5 years ago–so I’m still new at this, but I’m a quick learner. After reading your profile I know that you’re a pro and I’m feeling a little intimidated.
I hope you had a delightful weekend. I had a relaxed time with my daughters and friends.
William’s profile was clever. It should be—he’s a writer.
Here’s a sample:
I’m the author of more than 70 books, so my life is “comfortable,” and these days I write mostly because I’m driven to. If your children are, or were, active readers, there’s a good chance they have one or more of my books on their shelf. I believe in civility, good manners, and courtesy, and, while not close to perfect, try my best.
OK, I took a few days to respond because I was intimidated. 70 books? I wrote and rewrote my response at least a dozen times. It felt like I was turning in an essay to a highly persnickety professor whom I wanted to impress. I’ve changed or hidden a few of the details to respect William’s privacy. I do this in all the email messages I share on this blog, by the way.
Here’s his response:
Thanks for writing back. Your weekend sounds lovely. I’ve written a lot of books for children, and have done some work in journalism and TV as well. It amuses me when people say they feel intimidated. I feel like I’m one of the least intimidating people on earth.
May I ask what your memoir is about? (that is, other than obviously being a memoir).
I would imagine that you’re a bit tired of answering questions about the whys and hows of all the places you’ve lived, but just in case you’re not (or you’ve got boilerplate) I find experiences like that fascinating to read about.
Speaking of places to go, I’m leaving tomorrow morning for Santa Catarina to surf. How long depends on the conditions. Last year we waited four days before the waves got good.
I hope to have access to e-mail down there, but the part we go to is mostly dirt roads, thatched roofs, and sketchy accommodations.
So, if you do decide to answer this e-mail and I’m not quick to answer, that will be the reason. In which case I’ll be back in touch when I return.
A 57 year old who travels to Brazil to surf? He was already interesting but with that information I had to learn more. Who was this guy? Melani Robinson, super sleuth would have to do some checking. Thank you, Google, for giving me the perfect way to feel like I’m doing research or merely satisfying my curiosity as opposed to what it really is—STALKING.
I had his first name and knew he’d written over 70 children’s books. I found him within 5 minutes–photos and all. The CIA has nothing on me. He looked, well, a bit older in some of the photos. No worries, I’d search for his birth date.
WTF? William, you lied.
57 years old was already older than ideal, but William shaved six years off his age. He was 63. Many years ago I dated a man 16 years my senior. When I was 35 and he was 51 there was only a tiny foreshadowing of what was to come when he’d fall asleep sitting up on the sofa while watching TV. There was snoring that accompanied his nap and these weird, slurping sounds, a little drooling and the occasional snort followed by mumbling. My daughters tell me that I’ve added that repertoire to my television watching routine of late.
Oh the indignity of this aging process.
I’m not sure I’m prepared to watch a man fall apart before my eyes while knowing he’s simply showing me my future. I’m also doing my best to avoid widowhood again. I know, I know, death can happen at any age. But I’m from Las Vegas and widening the odds seems a prudent thing to do.
Here’s my response:
My memoir is a love story that covers 5 years during the time I lived and worked in Russia. I always cringe a little when I say or write that my book is a love story–it was a big love, but calling it that seems rather trite. I guess that is my boilerplate answer.
It sounds like you’re in the midst of an exciting time in Santa Catarina. I hope you’re catching big waves or at least good ones.
I do have a question for you. Because your profile states that you’ve written so many books for children and one of my daughter is a veracious readers, I googled your first name and author and was able to find you. The age you’ve given on your profile doesn’t match. I hope that doesn’t seem too stalker-ish, but being a writer I was curious. Is there a reason you’ve put a younger age on your profile? I’m kind of a stickler for honesty.
Here’s William’s response:
I wouldn’t ever call a love story, any love story, trite. To me that’s a word used by pompous people who have probably never been in love themselves. Or, to look at it another way, love is never trite to the one who’s in love.
I was once a stickler for honesty, but no longer. I believe we all lie – to protect those we love, to avoid unnecessary unpleasantness, to get into the 50-60 years age range on dating sites so that we pop up in searches. I also accept that the people in my life, my friends and loved ones, even my children, sometimes lie to me. I believe that when they do it, they do it because they don’t want to be hurtful. All I ever ask is that they be honest with me about the big issues.
So yes, that’s not my real age. Everything else in my profile is true (I think ;-). Here are some other truths about me – I don’t cheat, steal, act cruelly or selfishly.
Santa Catarina was fun, as always. Toward the end the waves actually got a little too big and too fast, and my friend and I both came home slightly bruised and bloodied.
Leave it to a writer to create a beautifully written Bullshit Excuse Letter. The part about why people lie was truly transcendent. I might have to use it at DMV when they smirk at me as I tell them my weight.
The truth is, I like William. I even like his ability to dance around the lies with a verbal symphony so beautiful one might forget it is nonsense. If he had just said, “Oops, I screwed up, you caught me,” I probably would’ve tried to meet at least once, but his skill at deflecting his bad behavior and twisting it into a universal human condition seemed a shade too practiced. He was adept. Maybe it’s because he’s a master at written expression–he obviously is–but it was troubling and led me to wonder if it might be a familiar theme in the story of his life.
“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” Mark Twain