The Cure for All Human Ills

E.S. KraayIn 1916, this is what C.S. Lewis wrote to his childhood friend, Arthur Greeves.

“Whenever you are fed up with life, start writing:  ink is the cure for all human ills, as I have found out long ago.”

I think he’s right.  Although I first penned The Olympian, A Tale of Ancient Hellas in 2002 through 2004, I didn’t move into high gear until 2008 with The Hamsa, and then I worked ‘after hours’ as I was still imprisoned by corporate America until I broke the chains in 2011.  Through the years, I’ve produced nearly a million creative words.

 

  • The Olympian            82,972
  • The Hamsa               133,943
  • Tobit                             81,642
  • DWI                             111,841
  • The Sixth Day              17,175
  • Gaspar                      138,000

 

That’s a total of 565,573 creative words.

 I manage and write for three websites.

  • The Vitruvian Man, which now has 602 posts
  • ESKraay Online, 173 posts
  • Tucson Poverello House, 21 posts

If the average post is 400 words, that’s 318,000 more creative words.

I’m closing in on a million words.  Compared to Steven King and Dean Koontz, that’s not squat diddly – or is it diddly squat.

The other day, someone said to me, “But you’re retired ….”  Retired?  It is a fact that I left traditional employment several years ago.  I tried to escape corporate America initially in 2002, but got sucked back in from 2004 through 2011 when I finally escaped with no regrets.  Retired?  One million words over four years when I moved into high gear is 684 words each day, 365 days a year.  Try writing 700 creative words a day for one month.  I challenge you.  Tell me how easy that is.

I agree with C.S. Lewis.  I do receive comfort from the process it takes to transfer an idea to a piece of paper.

When all is said and done, every week some reader somewhere makes my day with a comment on something I’ve written.  That is not vanity as we’ve read all week in the Book of Ecclesiastes.  It is a reward for the countless hours that go into each page that leaves my desk.

Last week, I was walking through the Redemptorist campus on my way to the monthly book club discussion.  I converged on a path with my friend Sarah.

“I almost didn’t come today,” she remarked.

“Why’s that?” I countered.  “Don’t you enjoy these discussions?”

“Absolutely,” Sarah replied, “But I only have 60 pages left to read in your new book Gaspar.  It is one, incredible book, and it really pained me to put it down to come to this meeting.”

“Sarah, you just made my day,” I said with a broad grin on my face.

To quote C.S. Lewis a final time, “Ink is the cure for all human ills.”

Thanks, C.S. Lewis, thanks Sarah, and thanks to all of you who have read Gaspar, Another Tale of the Christ and offered me your comments.  You’ve made my day.

The Yellow Pad

backpackIf you refer to my personal schedule that we posted several months ago, you will note that on a normal weekday, I am away from my home approximately four hours.  Two of those four hours, I’m on my bike and during the other two, I engage in contemplative activity.  Thoughts and ideas come to me all of the time.  I ride with my trusty backpack and in it, I always carry a yellow pad.

When an idea strikes me, when I read something of value, when words come to me that I want to remember, I jot them down in my pad.  Similarly, I am not afraid to write and markup the books that I carry.  I will annotate them, underline phrases… whatever it takes to keep an idea alive.  When I return to my desk, I always review my notes.

As an example, one morning last year as I was writing Tobit and the Hoodoo Man, I sat in chapel reading The Quotable Lewis by JerryTobit Root.  I consider Tobit a ‘wild ride’ of sorts and decided to subtitle it A Mystical Tale from the Civil War South.  I stretched the boundaries of historical fiction with that story.  As I read C.S. Lewis that morning, I chanced upon his comments on the miraculous.  “I never regard any narrative as unhistorical simply on the ground that it includes the miraculous.”  Lewis’s statement perfectly described what I wanted to accomplish with Tobit.  You’ll note that the quote appears on the first page of the book directly under the title.

Story ideas, phrasing, reference… my yellow pad is open for everything.

Although all of my grown children, their spouses and my wife are avid Kindle users, I prefer to read physical books, which I will markup.  I do maintain Kindle PC, Adobe Digital and Mobipocket reader on my computer.  I praise these technologies for the versatility they offer users to highlight and comment on text.  I suspect most of you are more ‘hi-tech’ than I am.

markupWhether you do it electronically or with paper and pencil, I advise all aspiring writers to have writing tools within easy reach 24/7.  You must be prepared when the right idea and the right words strike you.