The Helpful WEbooker10:04
of the WEek, Levimont, first
caught my attention with an offer of assistance. He approached Melissa (as much as one can
approach someone via email) and offered both his editorial and writing skills for
help around the site. She shared this
with us WEbook interns,
and I immediately messaged him. I have
to admit, I was curious as to how useful he could be. He impressed me when he kindly corrected two
mistakes I had made in my communications with him, proving his worth with the
ease of an unpretentious understanding of what works in writing.
I was further impressed after reading his
Dinosaur and the Dragon Lady and his submission The
First Rule of Drafting in his project Seeking Excellence. It is a unique, blunt expression of a man’s life from the ultimately
mundane to the unexpectedly important—all told beautifully with a craft that’s
difficult to match. I’m torn between
wanting to rave on about it and letting you read for yourself. Ultimately, I think there is greater value
in letting you, dear reader, decide what you do and do not like.
When I asked him to provide a short bio,
this was his response:
“There's something missing when you write
on a computer. There's no sensory input except from your eyes. Your nose can't
tell you about the smell of the ribbon. The wonderful clack clack clack clack
clack ding chnk ggggggg clack clack clack, interspersed with the occasional
chff-clack of a capital letter is replaced with a whispered
tickytackytickytacky. That long droning room full of typewriters is one of the
best places I ever went. Words on paper.
My words, down there on the paper for everyone to see. Arthur C. Clarke, Ngiao
Marsh, Robert Heinlein, Agatha Christie, that's all they did, is put words on
paper, and look at the worlds they built that way! If they could do that, so
could I. To this day, the smell of ink, the sound of an old Underwood, a tall,
lean woman with a grey, chalky voice, can take me back there to the place where
I discovered I, too, could put words on paper.
Many years and many miles have gone under
the bridge since then. I've had sixty-six jobs. I have way too many children
and just the right wife. I've loved and hated and fought and surrendered and
lived, since then. And I've written two novels, six short novels, and a host of
short stories. But to build worlds for myself, all I had to do was lie in bed
at night, all those long years ago, and think them up. Words on paper, worlds
on paper, are words and worlds for other people. In search of readers, I turned
to the internet.”
Ever the one to push things a bit further,
I had to ask him some questions.
is one kitchen utensil or appliance that you cannot see yourself living
A) My Melitta coffee cone. If you took this away, first my writing
would dry up and wither away, and then I'd begin to whine and whimper and
plead, and then I'd just tip over dead.
brought you to WEbook? What do you think about your time as a WEbooker so far?
A) Actually, it was a pay-per-click ad that first pointed me to WEbook,
but I'm not going to admit it, because I don't want to encourage the creatures!
I had been on and off of a dozen or so other "online writer's
communities," and I'd found that they all seemed to drift away from the
goal of perfecting one's craft, and slide down toward some breed of feudalism
or anarchy. I thought, and I still believe, that WEbook is a place that's all
about writers writing. I've found some new friends, and I've read some good
writing, and I've learned things. What's not to like?
you were a natural disaster, what would you be and where would you strike?
A) I'd be the most perfect wordstorm of angry criticism that ever
touched down, and I'd strike deep in the heart of the educational systems that
are failing so miserably at releasing the beauty and the power and the strength
that lies within each of us.
your childhood in a single, brief memory.
A) Everything you need to know about me is wrapped up in one
image. Look over there - that's me, that
scrawny boy stepping from the cool, air-conditioned library into the oven blast
of the sidewalk, walking slowly the three blocks home with the five-book limit
stacked against my chest, book one opened on the top. My feet slide slowly on
the gritty walk so that I can feel the curbs. My eyes are squinted down hard
against the sun bouncing back so loudly from the pages. The cars hum by like
big insects, like something not really connected to me at all, living their own
bookless lives. Kip and Peewee and Wormface are much more real to me than the
cars are. Reaching home, I don't even go in. I sit down on the front steps, and
in the dusty shade of the garage, I read until I've finished the fourth book.
Then I walk back to the library, book five balanced on the wobbly stack.