In 1959, Truman Capote appeared on David Susskind’s program, Open End to talk about writing. When the “Beat Generation” was mentioned, Capote famously replied, “None of these people have anything interesting to say and none of them can write not even Mr. Kerouac…it isn’t writing at all — it’s typing.”
I doubt anyone would equate speed with the quality of fiction or non-fiction. After all, it took James Joyce over 17 years to write Finnegan’s Wake.
But among my many writing heroes is Jim Murray, the Pulitzer Winning Sports Writer for the Los Angeles Times. He wrote on deadline and most of it was simply brilliant. I think that so much of extraordinary journalism from the New Yorker to the Sacramento Bee is lost in the sheer volume of competing media and time starved readers.
The death of the short story has been chronicled year after year. Like lyric poetry and the novella, it may live of the periphery.
A few years ago, I challenged myself to write a short story in under three hours. So, while on a long car trip from Texas to Virginia I stopped every morning at the ubiquitous chain of Cracker Barrels along my route. So in three breakfasts, I wrote a story right that was as much stream of consciousness than crafted fiction. My promise was not to change a word unless it contained some egregious grammatical errors.
It was written for the eye but I wanted to see how it would translate to the ear. Here it is. My thanks to narrator and friend, Ross Bagley. And Cracker Barrel for the large tables and endless supply of coffee. Just click below.