I was born by the light of a kerosene lamp, just fifty miles up a dirt road from the nearest public library. During the school year, I had access to a number of books judged suitable for students, and a drug store in the next town carried paperback novels -- usually twenty five cents a copy. So I had access to Drums Along the Mohawk and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, even The Grapes of Wrath. And I had a subscription to Boys' Life (to which, at the age of twelve, I submitted my first story, handwritten in a spiral notebook). But I didn't discover Dostoevsky, Henry James, Lafcadio Hearne and Aldous Huxley until I ventured out into the wider world.
After many missteps and misadventures:
• My first attempt at higher learning was aborted after one semester at the University of Illinois;
• I held the exalted rank of pfc in the army for nearly two weeks before I got busted back down to private; and
• I spent the spring, summer and fall of 1960 as a hobo-in-training, riding dirty-face, pearl-diving and picking tomatoes, now and then singing for my supper in a sally, and sleeping in places with very little to recommend them;
I settled in the Twin Cities.
At the age of 38, I finally received a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Minnesota, which had no value whatever in a job search. So I sought solace in a number of menial and demeaning jobs, and eventually I secured a civil service position in which I grew fat and lazy.
Over the years, I beat the living hell out of several secondhand typewriters, none of which seemed capable of completing an error-free page. But it wasn't until I bought my first computer, in 1988, that I was able to concentrate on writing rather than typing. For a time, I produced a humorous newsletter for an organization called the Society of Dirty Old Men, which we hoped would make us all filthy rich selling tee-shirts and souvenirs to college students. Following the demise of that brave new venture, I turned to writing short stories, novellas and novels and I have managed to accumulate a truly impressive collection of rejection slips. In fact, I believe I have spent more on postage than I will ever receive in payment.
My stories have been published in several magazines and journals, both hard copy and digital, and I received the princely sum of $200.00 as an advance on my novel, World Enough and Time. I'm still waiting for a response from Boys' Life