Guest Post: Daniel Pinkwater on How He Exercises His Profession

I don’t know about other writers. For one thing, I’ve never been another writer. For another, although I’ve observed practically all the interviews, or as in this case requested from writers, are about how the writing is done, creative tricks, recipes and such. I can’t listen to, view, or read that stuff…not that it isn’t full of useful information, just that my attention wanders, or I fall asleep. So, the nice guy who works for the publisher and arranges this kind of thing told me it would be a good idea if I wrote something about writing. And I just told you that I really don’t know anything about how other writers do it.

I’m on a bit of a spot here, because I’m not sure I know anything about how I do it. But I do have an idea. This idea is brand-new, I just came up with it the other day. It’s based on something I observed about a dog we have. This is a pure-bred rough collie, presently about 18 months old. I digress for a moment to tell you that for two people who are pushing 80 to go out and buy for a lot of money, an energetic 13 week old puppy is completely insane, but that’s what we did. What you’re supposed to do is match the dog to your own time of life, seniors should get a senior dog, doesn’t move so fast and naps more, just like us. We did the opposite. We had the puppy for a month or so when Jill, that’s my wife, got bitten by a tick, it was bearing a tick-borne disease, Erlichiosis, which is nasty. Jill wound up in the hospital more or less out of her mind for five days, and then did 41 days in rehab. While this was going on the puppy went back to the farm with mom and dad and the sibs.

When Jill was home and well enough, the breeder brought the puppy, now around 6 months old. We didn’t expect the pup would remember us very well, probably hardly at all. But we were wrong. She came in the door. “I’m back!” she said, gave us each a fast lick, and curled up next to Jill’s chair in the spot she had napped before the interruption. Later she took me on a tour of our house, “These are the stairs to your office. Here’s where I stole the 3×5 cards and brought them to you one by one, just like I’m doing now…still funny. I’m not supposed to get onto this couch, but this ratty one is ok.”

The puppy, her name is Peach, by the way, remembered everything, and had quite a bit earlier in her short life clicked on her role as “our dog,” and she even loved us without rhyme or reason, undeterred by how uninteresting we are, it was all, everything, baked in. She had to learn a few minor things, don’t bite, don’t poop indoors, walk nicely on the leash, but all the essential stuff was in place and only awaiting whatever prompts activation.

And, believe it or not, I never gave this thought until this week. That, in the case of this one writer, not speaking for or about anyone else, is how I exercise my profession.

Daniel Pinkwater is, in brief, the author and sometimes illustrator of over 80 (and counting) wildly popular books. He is also an occasional commentator on National Public Radio’s All Thing Considered and appears regularly on Weekend Edition Saturday, where he reviews exceptional kids’ books with host Scott Simon. Said books usually go on to become best-selling classics.

If you’re an author or other fantasy and science fiction creative, and want to do a guest blog post or video interview, please check out the guest blog post guidelines. Or if you’re looking for community from other F&SF writers, sign up for the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers Critclub!

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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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