If you have missed the Thompson essay so far, go back to the front page and check out the bottom. That is writing. That is why I do this.
That, ladies, gentlemen, and various assorted other royalwatchers, is Hunter S. Thompson.
Now that you have been properly introduced.....
It was during the Watergate hearings. (Yes, I remember those. Live. Pre-empting all the soaps and dragging Dad home from work early.) I have this father who is a total pseudointellectual jerk. He decided he was going to get "into" Watergate (like he got "into" everything else). As usual, he left something behind in the mania. We had a whole damn shelf of the stuff...transcripts of the hearings, political books, and stuff. And the one prize gem, that I do believe I snatched out of his hands (I have this habit of doing that, or at least did), Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72. Awesome book.
Taught me to write. The man does not miss a word. The man does not miss a moment.
I swore then I'd do what he did: Document the truth. Every word. Sometimes the truth is just a little too unbelievable, but that's okay. Just keep documenting.
At some point somebody will believe you.
Hunter taught me that, yes, there are other smart people in the Appalachian region (he hails from Louisville, Kentucky). (And for a while there you had to look real hard to find specimens of the genre....) He has taught me it is okay to be yourself. And he has taught me that sometimes you just have to defy the rules and do it your own way. I do not abide by the heavy substance use code that he does. That's not my way. But it is apparently his. And we are blessed that he is still around to hassle us.
Every word is polished. I got that habit from Hunter. Ain't no other way he could have done that. Even in the middle of some of those drug-clouded fogs...my God, that is an accomplishment!
Every sentence is thought out. You can't get to the other idea unless you clear up this one. Got that one from Hunter too. Even in the middle of the most wild, bohemian ramblings about nothing in particular, he makes sense. He really does.
And ties it all into a larger thought. Y'all fake-ass English teachers in high school could have spared the paragraph lectures and made us read Hunter. As I recall, I suggested this. I was laughed out.
Oh well....I bet I'm the only one in that class who can write now. Instead of using verbal crutches to impress people on paper.
'Taint the same thing, boys. 'Taint the same thing.
I tried to tell you that.
Oh well.....A writer has something to communicate and does it. Does the writer get his point across? Does the reader understand what he is saying?
I have had much and multifarious writing clarity training. It is details on Hunter. He makes you live it. Every walk to a hotel room...every drive through the midnight wilderness...every sitting on the barstool beside some strange creature or other....he makes you live it. And feel it.
And he got me a damn good grade on my report once from Ms. Edington. I maintained a subscription to Rolling Stone in those days, mostly because Hunter was publishing there. Teacher wants us to do a report on the Carter/Dole (or whoever it was) election. 1976. I'm ready. Political background. (Even used a couple of those damn Watergate transcript books -- do you know how thick those things were? -- for help). Pulled a couple of wonderful, wonderful Annie Leibowitz shots of the candidates out of the Stone. Plus a few Ralph Steadman drawings....she raved for days.
Nyah, nyah, nyah to the smartass boy who thought the Stereo Review subscription and piles of clippings was going to get an A. Nyah, nyah, nyah. I have wanted to do that for years.... (Solved that lunchroom battle, it did! Thanks, Hunter! Some people just don't understand it until they see it on the report card....)
I am working on a novel series in which I use a lot of quotes. I keep a running book of them. Plus book references. I learned one thing real quick. Other authors give out on you. Thompson never does. There's always another wonderful line in there you can snag. Him and James Joyce. Even Shakespeare wears a bit thin these days. Now I know that's going to get me stoned in some quarters, but oh well. It does. But gimme the Hunter and I can go on for days. Douglas Adams wears out. Even Tom Wolfe, so help me (him of The Right Stuff fame) wears out. Hunter? Nah. It's disgusting.