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Monday, July 20, 2015

Go ahead, give it a shot

I remember in grammar school the teacher asked if anyone had any hobbies. I was the only one with any hobbies and I had every hobby there was... name anything, no matter how esoteric. I could have given everyone a hobby and still had 40 or 50 to take home.
 – Cormac McCarthy

That, says McCarthy, is why he feels comfortable writing about almost anything. Because as every writer knows, if you have a lot of interests they can be transcribed into your work. 
 Born this date in 1933, one of McCarthy’s early interests was his Irish heritage and before he was too old, he had his name changed from Charles to Cormac after the legendary Irish King, which coincidentally also means “Son of Charles.”

He gravitated to writing early, making use of his knowledge of so many things.  In addition to many stories, he has written ten novels, spanning everything from the Southern Gothic to Western to Post-Apocalyptic genres.  For his efforts he’s won awards in each, including a Pulitzer Prize for his intense effort in the latter, The Road, a book that also won him the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction.

Many of his books have been made into movies including the Academy Award winning No Country for Old Men.   His All the Pretty Horses, one of my favorites, won both a National Book Award and a National Book Critics Circle Award before being made into a terrific movie.  The Road and Child of God also have been adapted for films.

 Cormac McCarthy

One of McCarthy’s writing traits – lauded by some, hated by some – is his adamant non-use of quotation marks for dialogue.  He said there is no reason to "blot the page up with weird little marks."   His other “quirk” (if it can be called that) is his non-use of computers.  He’s on his second Olivetti typewriter.  His first, bought for $50 in 1963, was auctioned for over $250,000 in 2009 after he felt it needed more maintenance than he could properly administer (his “cleaning” technique was to blow the dust out with a service station air hose).   He donated the money to charity. 

Always frugal, he got his second Olivetti for $11 and went right to work.  He said he constantly has several things underway.  “Even if what you're working on doesn't go anywhere,” he said,  “it will help you with the next thing you're doing. (As a writer) Make yourself available for something to happen. Give it a shot.”

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