Irene Koronas, poetry editor for Wilderness House Literary Review, posed the question: what mythology do you create for yourself as a writer? your habits: the way you dress, write, where you take vacations, who you associate with, etc.?
My parents and grandparents had a thing about writers and being a writer. My grandfather wrote several dozen books and my mother was a freelance journalist. I don’t think either was particularly good at it but for me their major impact was their absolute reverence for the profession or avocation of writer. They held the title of author in total awe. As part of our religion of the author my mother dragged me to readings and lectures for years. I met Carl Sandburg, Saul Bello, Robert Frost, and a few other luminaries whose names escape me now. They didn’t mean much to me then.
On Sunday afternoons, after church, my grandfather would sit us down, my cousins, my brother and I, and read stories and poems before a formal dinner that lasted well past my bed time. He would reverently read Keets, Kipling and e e cummings as if they were the latest books of the bible. The word of God. Alleluia.
Saturdays were far less formal and not universally observed. In the summer my grandfather would hold court on his expansive porch. There were three or four wicker couches and another four or five chairs scattered casually around three glass top tables. Forty feet of fragrant unkempt roses marked the edge of the overhang. People came and went while my grandfather drank martinis from a cut crystal glass in his overstuffed chair just outside the door to his study. They would congregate in small groups, two or three at a time. The police chief and the head of the union negotiating at one table while the three selectmen played cards with my grandfather at another and the president of the garden club gossiped with my grandmother on the last. Bessie MacDermott, the aging and very scotch ‘member of the household,’ served hors d' oeuvres.
My mother would prepare for these Saturday gatherings by typing up “talking points” and carefully packaging her creations both literary and culinary before heading over to “the big house.” We lived in the coachman’s cottage at the back of the property. Once town business was over and the local luminaries had left my mother would charge over to my grandfather, sit down and start reading something she had written. He would nod thoughtfully, perhaps make a comment or two before pulling a sheaf of papers from under a table next to his chair and proceed to read his own scribbling. I mostly fell asleep on one of the sofas to the drone of someone’s voice reading a newly minted story or poem. It wasn’t hard to decide that I too wanted to be a writer.