Good writers write a lot…

Jon Carroll’s been writing his San Francisco Chronicle column for 25 years. Today’s column is about that–and about how Carroll’s been making it up as he goes along.

I’ve been reading Carroll’s column for 25 years, and appreciating it most every day. (But, as he notes in the anniversary column, if you asked me what yesterday’s column was about, I might not remember.) He’s a fine writer, an interesting thinker, willing to tell uneasy truths about himself (for some portion of that quarter-century, he was seriously drinking too much, and he spent some time later on talking about that).

Read the column. It’s a good one, as usual.

I go back a long way with Jon Carroll, in an odd and unidirectional way. When he was editor of California Pelican, UC Berkeley’s humor magazine, somewhere in the mid-60s, I submitted a couple of manuscripts. After looking at them, he informed me that I was not funny. That has probably saved me a lot of grief over the decades. (“Unidirectional”: there’s no reason Carroll would know or care who I am.)

Carroll writes a little less than I do: 198,000 words a year, where I’m running somewhere north of a quarter million. Carroll writes a whole lot better than I do. Oddly, he’s never been syndicated: the Chron thinks he’s too peculiarly local.

Anyway, good column, and thanks, Jon Carroll, for a quarter-century of great writing. Here’s the final paragraph:

I am sometimes asked for advice on writing. The only two things I know for sure are: Good writers read a lot, and good writers write a lot. As the artist Chuck Close said: “Amateurs look for inspiration; the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

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