Notes from Alexis: She has decided to syndicate a column, and we are all getting involved, including poor ole dad.
Hope you had a lovely Xmas. We fixed a huge turkey. I started out saying; “Now listen I’m not going to make a big deal out of this,” and Dad agreed. Just a turkey and dressing and that’s all. He kept adding things until the only thing missing was 14 guests to eat it all. He did help a lot though, and we did it on the 24th, so we rested yesterday.
Little J. has two teeth and has discovered EATING. I swear I never saw a babe put away so much food. We tied him to the high stool and he worked his way, with his fingers, through corn, dressing, gravy, sweet potatoes, and fruit salad, but then when he came to the mashed potatoes he held up his fingers and cried. Dad and I couldn’t help laughing. He looked just like you. Later he found the bowl of fruit we had hidden and captured an apple. He brought it in for P. to start it. She had to take the first bite, because two teeth are not enough, and then he ate the whole thing plus pie.
I have discovered something interesting about P., she is a mind waiting to spark. Just about when I think there is no hope, she surprises me. J. has been talking to her about reincarnation and she has been thinking about it. Her father is very ill and every month has strokes, so she called up the Hospice group and has been going down once a week to their meetings, to cope with his death when it comes. Now isn’t that smart? We don’t want to write her off too soon, or J. either, I was almost as startled by his coming around, as about her.
Now we come to the part of the letter where I stop being the good guy and start laying down the law. First and foremost, you have to understand that I am the ‘Boss of the Syndicate.’ Boy I love that kind of talk.
For simplicity’s sake, I insist on 50/50. Otherwise, I would say 51/49 so everybody would know I am ‘The Boss,’ but I can’t figure out figures like 51/49. There is a good and solid reason for 50/50 and that is incentive. I want you guys to hustle, and believe me, with the thought of half the moola you are going to be a lot more interested in selling the column, and I am going to make moola.
Your part of the job is a constant caring for the details, and you must try to envision this before we start, because if you can’t see yourselves doing this, then it won’t work. Getting the legal set up is the least of it and I’ll get that done. You can get out of it now before we start, but once we get into it, then the thing will snowball, so you need to start planning a bookkeeping system and a filing system so you always know where you are with it. I will be lots of work, so don’t argue about the split.
Dad liked one or two of the columns, but fussed at me about the others; but I just cannot write to suit him, and I have told him not to tell me if he doesn’t like it. If a column is no good, that’s one thing, but if someone doesn’t like it that’s another. People are funny aren’t they? Here is a man who never reads but wants to tell me how to write. I’m surprised I didn’t scream and holler, and jump up and down. I just explained, patiently, through gritted teeth that it was not possible for me to write columns that he approved of, and he would just have to learn to like them or not read them, or something, but DON’T SAY ANYTHING!
I think we all have to understand that not every column will be a masterpiece. Since I am writing about books, all we can hope for is that people will read the books. I have some criteria about which books I write about, and I’ll be glad to tell you so you, can know how the system works: (l) The book has to be good i.e. well written (2) not new or particularly popular. (Those books are being read. They don’t need me now. Maybe later when they are lost in the stacks.) (3) I have to feel strongly enough about the book or the author to write the column.
I call this my three point system, and if a book doesn’t have all three, it doesn’t get written about. A good for instance, would be the book ‘Irregular People’. It has No. 2 and 3, but not No. 1, so it doesn’t make the column. There is also an unspoken, unwritten No. 4. I have to be able to write about it, which eliminates Jane Roberts because I can’t seem to know how to write about her books. So it goes.
I was so delighted with pens and typewriter ribbon that I just sat and loved on them. Dad loved the boat oar, and rowed the chair and the coffee table. Also, we both loved the candy. What is it, and where did you get it, and if I sent $5 would you get more and bring it down next time you come?
I have about 20 books stacked up because I am reading on two levels now. On the first are the books for the column, and some of these are books I have already read and am now re-reading, and some are new (to me) books. This column has been the greatest thing for me, and by re-reading the books I am learning more than I did the first time. I am looking at them differently; thinking about them not just for reading and pleasure.
At the same time I am reading for pleasure. I am also writing on my own books, and I am certainly glad this is my ‘down time,’ or otherwise I would be working. Right?
Well, got to run to town, so will close,