Tuesday, June 29, 2004

It occured to me yesterday that it's been almost exactly 40 years since I first attempted to become a writer. (40 years! Good grief.)

In the summer of 1964 I was going to graduate school at North Texas State (now the University of North Texas) and living in an apartment with two guys named Fred Williams and Bob Tyus. One weekend Fred and I went to visit a friend in Kilgore, Texas. We were both hugely impressed by the stories of the Kilgore oil boom, by the number of millionaires in the town, and by the Frank Lloyd Wright houses we saw. So naturally we decided to write a book.

We thought the thing to do would be to write a sweeping historical novel in the manner of, say, Frank Yerby, a writer we'd both read in high school. We'd write about the discovery of oil, the crooked dealings in leases, the families (black and white) who got cheated, and the ones who got rich. It would be a best-seller for sure.

We started writing in ballpoint pen on notebook paper. I can't remember whether we wrote alternating chapters or alternating scenes. Or whether one of use would write until he stopped and the other picked up. In fact, I can't remember much about the proposed masterpiece at all.

The good news is that we soon got tired of it. I don't know how many pages we'd written, but it was certainly fewer than 100. I thought for years that I still had the pages in an old notebook, but when I looked for them one day, I couldn't find them. That was a long time ago, and I think we can safely assume that the manuscript is lost forever.

And the world is no doubt a better place because of that.

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