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This seems to be the thing most audiences (and most non-writers) are most curious about when they're fact-to-face with a writer. "How do you discipline yourself to write?" they'll ask. Or, "Do you write every day?" "How many hours a day do you write?" "Are you writing anything now?" "Do you use a computer?" "Where do you write?" And so on.
The answers to these questions are as varied as writers. No two writers do things the same way. Daniel writes because he loves to write, and he's always working on something. He's not really happy unless he's writing, so the question of "discipline" isn't one he's familiar with. He recently told someone that nobody would think of asking a lawyer or a doctor or a restaurant owner if he was "working on anything" right now. But authors seem to come under the category of "different animals." The tricky part for him is to find time to write in the midst of all the other demandsanswering emails and letters from readers, responding to requests from his publisher, and so forth. Nevertheless, he can spend a large part of the day responding to myriad requests and still end up producing a thousand words of the new novel he's now working on.
This is a question I get asked all the time, and the best answer I can come up with is that I do whatever has to be done. Here I am at my end of our working/living space, which I periodically try to tidy up but which always returns, almost by magic, it seems, to its normal chaotic disarray. My main job is taking care of this website and everything that relates to it. When you place an order, I'm the one who processes it, packs it up, and takes it to the post office. If you write to customer service, your letter comes directly to me. I'm also responsible for portions of the Ishmael websitethe listings of schools and courses, and the news and information and announcements sections. I field all requests for Daniel to speak and handle the details involved in any speaking engagement. Then, of course, there are all the mundane details like trying to keep our files up-to-date, maintaining an inventory of our books (of which, as you might imagine, we have a lot) so that if Daniel needs a particular reference book for something he's working on, we can lay hands on it quickly. As far as I'm concerned, the most important thing I do is act as "first reader" for everything Daniel writes. If it doesn't make sense to me, then he goes back and rethinks and reworks it until it does.
People also ask if I write. I was making my living as a freelance writer when Daniel and I met in Chicago in the early seventies. But, unlike Daniel, I've never really loved to writeit was something I could do and make a living. It took me a long time to realize what I really wanted to do, and that's to paint. For that story, and to see some of my work, click on the link at the end of the page.
As you can see from the picturesand these don't begin to show the masks, prints, sculptures, pottery, and strange and eerie items we've collected over the years we're surrounded by all kinds of art, our own and that of other people. We've always wanted to live in a museum, and we feel we do!
The two lithographs behind my desk were done by Anne Michalov, a WPA artist during the thirties, who was the mother of our friend Goody Cable (to whom The Story Of B was dedicated and whose RimskyKorsaKoffeehouse in Portland is to us a premier example of a tribal business). These were part of a cache of work hidden away in the attic of her house and forgotten for years as she neglected her own art in favor of raising a family and helping further the career of her husband, also an artist.
The four photos behind Daniel at his desk are a few of the originals created by Greg Boyd to illustrate A Newcomer's Guide to the Afterlife, which Daniel wrote (along with Tom Whalen) as a "vacation" from more serious work. The oil painting is one of his own, done many years ago. Daniel gave up painting when he began to work seriously at writing, feeling that each art form is too demanding for simultaneous existence and realizing that he was a better writer than painter. Now he does different kinds of art projects as R&R when he's finished one book and isn't yet ready to start anotherconstructions made from found objects, altars peopled with a bizarre variety of objects, light boxes containing eerie scenes. Click on the link below to see some of his work.
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