Friday, March 09, 2012

Where I Went Wrong

The most productive writer I know is Loren Estleman. He writes award-winning mysteries and westerns of such astonishing literary merit that he was nominated for the National Book Award. Publisher’s Weekly singled out one of his westerns, The Master Executioner, as one of the 50 best books published. His awards would fill a room. This June he will receive the Wister Award at Western Writers of America for lifetime achievement. I can’t tell you how much members of WWA revere this award.
Loren Estleman
Just how good is the man? PW had this to say in a starred review about his short story collection. “All the elements that have made Estleman one of the best hard-boiled writers of all time – just a notch below Chandler and Hammett – are present in these 32 short stories. Remarkably, he has kept his Detroit-based Amos Walker series (Motor City Blue) fresh after three decades and 20 novels… What's most impressive is Estleman's ability to blend sharp-edged language, cynical characters, betrayals, twists, and a memorable narrative voice within the short story format.”
And the Boston Globe says “"...a true professional, a writer of a sort increasingly given to his work as to spontaneously combust to genius."

Half mystery—half western!
It’s fitting that his logo is split personality
And get this. He does it all on a 1950 manual typewriter. He managed to stay free of the wretched technology that plagues most of us. I’ve seen some of his manuscripts. They sell for a fortune at the annual WWA auction. He’s an impeccable typist and says 'I like the clip-clop of typewriter keys striking the keyboard and the sweet cedar smell of a freshly sharpened pencil."

This week, I descended into technology hell. One thing after another shorted, blew up, or simply died of the proverbial “cause of death unknown.” My thoughts turned to Loren and the simplicity of his methods. If I were to keep a time log where my life is spent during an ordinary work day, I suspect shockingly little of it goes to actually producing new creative material. My descent began about 20 years ago with my first Apple 2e, and the skid continued.
I went wrong. I’ve stayed wrong. I vow I will change.

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