The Carlyle, Apt. # 14023
620 Halton Rd.
Greenville SC 29607


I am standing in front of my bathroom mirror reading my Polar Bear novel aloud to myself, pretending to be both writer and audience, and hoping the ruse will give me a fresh ear for the text, the way I've been told it does. If so, this will be the final polish, and the novel can come out in February or March, '07.

Since I am publishing it myself, all of the responsibility for the preparation of the text is mine. Consequently, I have needed most of two years just to fine-tune it. Publishing houses have said two years is not as long as it seems, but it has been long and mostly boring to me. Having an editor to temper the production has helped give me a fresh eye and eased the tedium a little.

When I was settling down to the task of writing, I though I could accomplish what I wanted to do by writing more or less naturally, and learned quickly this was not enough. I had to scale a learning curve that resulted in a gradual breakthrough.

The resulting discipline has led to an odd supression of ego while I inhabit other characters, allow my mind's eye to wander through their lives, and trust in my literary judgment to select the right words to set the scenes.

I spent ten hairy years repairing old buildings. My classmate at Furman Tommy Hays wrote a novel about a writer who tries to defeat writers-block by fixing up an old house. I'm pretty sure that it does not work, although I still don't know what does.

My sophomore literature anthology from Furman contains a poem by W. H. Auden, "In Memory of w. B. Yeats." In it, Auden tells yeats, "Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry." Maybe life hurts people into a career of writing, but I am suspicious of poets who compose dirges for another poet who is, let's face it, a competitor. In private, Auden may have remarked, "Thank God, that's one less poet!"

My world-view has changed somewhat. In John LeCarre's The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, a British secret agent falls in love with an ardent Communist who expounds her beliefs on the agent morning, noon, and night.

When she asks him what he believes, the agent replies, "I believe that the No. 11 bus will take me to Hammersmith. I do not believe that it is driven by Father Christmas."

I took his words into a new phase of my life, as a writer who does not rely on miracles, just hard work in a society blessed with a degree of predictability.