“When are you going to do some real writing instead of all this internet stuff?” A good question. I get it a lot from my writer friends. I can’t say I blame them. I sometimes ask myself the same question. Then I wonder: What is “real” writing?
Presumably real writing means something like having your words published in the form of a good old-fashioned book. I like books. I’ve written several myself, a couple of which have been published. They’re even in print still, one of them for more than twenty years. I can’t vouch for how “real” they are, for I seldom go back to them—only when somebody asks me to read aloud from one or the other. I enjoy that, reading to people. It seems real.
Another real thing about my writing happens when I hear from an appreciative reader. The first piece of writing I ever placed with a magazine of respectable circulation had something to do with ghosts. A woman from Tennessee came across it and took the time to write me a letter. This was back in the day when people still wrote real letters. She thanked me for writing something that gave her pleasure. She praised the style of the piece. Then she asked: “Would you like me to introduce you to some of my ghosts?” It struck me as an extraordinary act of generosity. Had I been living anywhere near Tennessee, I might have taken her up on the offer. Instead I wrote her a quick postcard thanking her for her kind words about my own. Some might say that that’s about as real as my writing has ever gotten. I would not dispute it.
That brings me to these words, the ones you’re reading right now. Do they constitute “real writing”? Probably not. You’re likely reading them on a computer monitor, which as we all know is just a fancy electronic phantasmagoria. You, dear reader, are staring into the window of the only haunted house still standing. And I really appreciate the time you have taken to meet some of my ghosts.