My grandmother, gently chiding her three young grandsons for failing to write to her very often, would tell us, “If you're too busy to write, then you're too busy.” Of course, we weren’t too busy to write; we were too lazy. Which, of course, she most certainly knew. But Grandma was nice—far nicer than we deserved—and would not have uttered such a harsh truth to us.
I begin with this because, earlier today, I was Too Busy to Blog. On MWF I've been serializing my memoir Frankenstein Sundae, a book about my 10-year pursuit of Mary Shelley. Pursuit is a softer word than obsession, which, in this case, is a more accurate word.
But another, more recent … pursuit … latched onto me this morning. A couple of years ago—as regular visitors to this site know—I was reading my way through the complete works of John O’Hara (1905-1970), was reading all his biographies, visiting his hometown of Pottsville, Pa., visiting his final home—and grave—in Princeton, N.J., etc. I'd given a couple of talks about him at a couple of local venues.
But then—like all of my other pursuits—this one cooled, and I was moving on. But what about all that work? Shouldn't I try to publish something?
Well, sure, but as regular visitors to this site also know, I resolved a couple of years ago to bid buh-bye to traditional publishers (well, most of them; I still write regularly for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and for Kirkus Reviews). As I've aged—and as my health has begun to fail me--I've started publishing directly to Kindle—by-passing agents and editors and the like. On my Amazon.com author page you can see my entire list of publications—Kindle and traditional. And, of course, I'm blogging regularly.
Anyway, time’s winged chariot is hurrying near (thank you for that image, Andrew Marvell), and I do not have the time to do a biography of O’Hara. But I have adapted the speeches about him I'd delivered and will soon upload the document to Kindle as a longish essay I'm calling a “biographical memoir.”
And this morning I was furiously entering endnotes in the document, checking and double-checking sources. Hours flew. I looked at the clock. Lunchtime. The entire morning had swirled by without my noticing.
Oops. No Shelley post today. “I was too busy, Grandma …”
And I can hear the skepticism add an edge to her reply: “Then you're too busy.”