Writers looking for inspiration should read Roger Angell's memoir, Let Me Finish. Or if you're not vacationing in Mexico, just this single paragraph will do. It's the opening of "King of the Forest," an essay about Angell's father Ernest:
Every night when I was a boy, I sat and read in our living room, listening to my father writing letters. He wrote on his lap longhand, with the letter paper backed by one of his long yellow pads, and the scratch and swirl of his black Waterman pen across the page sounded like the scrabblings of a creature in the underbrush. There were no pauses or crossings out, and in time I realized that I could even identify the swash of the below-the-line "g" leaping diagonally upward into an "h" and the crossing double zag of an ensuing "t," and, soon after, the blip of a period. When he reached the bottom of the page, the sheet was turned over and smoothed down in a single, back-of-the-hand gesture, and the rush of writing and pages went on, while I waited for the final declarative "E" or "Ernest"—the loudest sound of all—that told me the letter was done. When the envelope had been addressed, licked, and sealed with a postmasterish thump of his fist, he would pluck a Lucky Strike out of its green pack and whack it violently four times against his thumbnail, like a man hammering a spike, then damply tongue the other end before lighting up. By the time the first deep drag appeared as a pale upward jet of smoke, another letter was in progress. I went back to my book. Sooner or later, the letters would be over, and he would be ready to read aloud to me. "Finished," he would announce, picking up Oliver Twist. "Now, where were we?"
Now, who's got another steroid shot to share?
Ron Shewchuk says
Very nice, David. I’ll bet you were tempted to go buy a pack of Luckies after reading that.
Jean Gogolin says
Wow. Now you’ve gone and made me want to read everything he’s written. I didn’t know about the connection to E.B.White.