The latest Atlantic Online has a marvelous satiric short story by Garrison Keillor about a writer of dubious talent. In the story, the writer has a meeting with Wallace Shawn, editor of the New Yorker, and gets this priceless piece of advice from ‘Mr. Shawn’ while on the golf course:

He said to me, “Writers like to think that writing is like Arctic exploration or flying the Atlantic solo, but actually it’s more like golf. You’ve got to just do it and be happy. Some writers spend twenty minutes lining up a four-foot putt. Some writers pitch a tent on the green and stay for a week and brood about friction and energy and the gender of their putter. What’s the problem? Take your shot. It’s no shame to bogey. Just do it and have a good time. Don’t base your whole life on worrying about whether you’re any good or not. If you need to know, you shouldn’t be playing this game.”

The whole story is hilarious, as the writer makes ends meet as an advice columnist and describes the failed creative process that got him there. Another excerpt:

A lot of things can make you happy. A good ball game, score tied, bases loaded, two out, bottom of the ninth, and the local hero punches a double into the right-field corner and the crowd rises, yelling, happy. Walking around New York City on a summer night. Walking around the Minnesota State Fair. The St. Matthew Passion and a big choir leaning into it like sled dogs on the tundra.

Damn, we need more writers that can make us laugh.

That’s it for today, folks. It’s my anniversary, I’m taking the day off work, and we’re outta here.

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  1. Marie Foster says:

    I have been a great Prarie Home Companion fan since nearly the beginning. I agree. Garrison Keillor is a national treasure.

  2. Rob Paterson says:

    Have a great week Dave

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