It Could Get Deep (tf)

I sit here immensely proud of myself. For years one of my favorite writers has been Mike Stevens. I liked Mike before I met him and even more so afterwards (a rare thing that eh?). He has the gift of making the written word sound like the eloquence of the well-spoken word. So what comes from his pen and 2 inch pencil (or rather his assortment of electronic keypads) are the deceptively simple observations of the born story-teller. In other words, he’s pretty darn good.

He’s also pretty darn busy. He tells me he’s retired,  yet he spends 40 hours a week at WNEP-TV, where he claims he retired from. This is strange behavior for a retiree, but I both respect my elders and don’t understand a thing about them, so I let it pass without saying anything snarky. I suppose it’s possible Stevens loves his work, but that thought is so foreign to someone young enough to be Mike’s son that it gives me the shakes. I don’t love work. I endure it so the bank doesn’t take away my house. And when the working day is over I do what I love. I write. I long to write as well (or is it “as good?”) as Mike Stevens.

So I went to Mike and said “let’s write together”. He always agrees initially because he hates to douse me with water when he sees I’m in a manic phase. (He was brought up that way. Very courtly.  The other day we met at Borders bookstore and while saying our goodbye’s outside on a crowded sidewalk a woman with a baby carriage approached the doors to enter. Mike was the only person who came to her aid)  So we start along on a bumpy course and then Mike comes to his senses and lets me down gently. “Sorry lad. I just don’t have the time.”

But then. With a single late-night text message. Everything changed.

Stevens sent the following note to me. Un-prompted.

“Hemingway wrote 500 words a day”

Right then I knew I had him. I’m still not sure if he meant that 500 words a day was somehow slothful, or if it represented the discipline of a well-oiled machine. But my response was thus…

“Mike Royko wrote a 900 word column 5 days a week for 47 years.”

His response was something along the lines of wanting to take a shovel and bury himself. But the meaning was clear enough. Mike Stevens longed to write. And he didn’t want to be too busy to write anymore. He certainly didn’t need me to help him, but realized that I would bombard his phone with text messages if his dedication to the cause wavered. And perhaps that our styles were so different that working together might actually be fun.

And so here we are. Mike will choose the subject matter. And I shall follow his lead. We are both committed to 1000 words a week under penalty of being fined (no really) and verbally flogged by the other.

Mike Stevens is writing. Weekly. Again. I’d write a Roykoesque amount of words to keep that going.

–Tom Flannery

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~ by admin on December 6, 2010.

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