Having written for money at least 55 years, I was pleased to get some sharp criticism from an old McAllen High School classmate nearly five years ago.
We older, smaller, not famous hacks, as part-time writers are sometimes called, appreciate any crumbs of readers’ notice, good or terrible.
“Greetings, Jim,” began Eldon Reynolds. “I enjoy some of your articles. However, I tire of constantly hearing of your extreme over-work and fatigue from it.
“You asked for it by accepting a full-time job and then working time-and-a-half and every chance you get.
“If the museum needs a body-and-a-half, tell them to go find another half, that yours is busy with your own life.
“We are all old enough to sit back a little and smell the roses, read a few more books, and dance a little, and go see your dad more often, and enjoy the realization that you have accomplished a lot in your 70+ years.
“Jim, I guess you get the drift of what I am saying but the other way to cure my problem is for you to just not write about your over-work in every letter. You have a remarkable career and I know now it is hard now to begin to slow down a little.”
“I find it hard myself to be slowly adjusting, but am slowly adjusting by doing a little volunteer work, exercising a little and reading more. Life is good.
“I hope you have this Labor Day off and are enjoying the day!
“Your classmate, Eldon
Then I replied, “Dear Eldon,
“Perhaps it takes a former classmate, and a long-time, long-distance friend, to point out how a writer can wallow in self-pity. Writers are notorious for that.
“I do appreciate your letter, because, being an egotist as well as a work-aholic, I tend to whine a lot.
“Really, I’m not kidding about this. I do appreciate your comments and realize my wife, Jerry, has gone through 50 years of being married to an egomaniac.
“I hope to see you at our next McAllen High reunion. Remember, Class of 1951, McAllen High Bulldogs, may be having another reunion before long.
“And if you come back to the Valley before then, I hope to see you again and I promise not to cry on your shoulder. Actually, I have been luckier than most and have less to complain about than most people, I would imagine. I pass this along to my friends around the world, because they might be amused to learn the facts you expressed, and further amused to know that I rarely notice any faults in myself, an old habit.”
The above has been the last heard from Eldon since his good advice reached me four years ago. I hope he is well because he was so right about the advice he gave me. If anyone who reads this knows where Eldon Reynolds is now, please let me know. His advice probably helped me live now to 77 by slowing down a bit, as he put it. Anybody could be helped by that good advice he gave me.
If anyone knows where he is now, call me at 682-5319.