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The 400

John W. Pinkerton


This month's issue of Old Art Guy contains nine new essays.  The nine brings the total of my essays written for and published on this site to 400.  I'm sure “400” means zilch to you, but for me it's a bunch...let's face it, there ain't much to me, and a little accomplishment goes a long way.

I've told you before that I started writing essays to place in a book to give to my pallbearers so that I'd have the final word, but when I got a website, well, I decided to publish them there.  Oh yeah, I've also published three books so far---the pallbearers can buy their own books.

The first essay I wrote was “Television” in which I recounted my early experiences with television and baseball.  In my mind, television and baseball will always be linked.  Television came to my hometown  in 1955 with the Yankees and Dodgers in the World Series.  It's a good read for baseball fans and anyone who might be interested in or watched TV in its early days.

I've noticed that my style of writing has changed along the way.  Most of my essays began as rather formal affairs.  There's always been humor in my essays---that's my nature---but my style has also become less formal and more like conversations over cups of coffee.  I've realized that I was trying to prove how smart I was in the early essays.  Once I realized it was more important to be engaging than appearing to be smart, my essays became less formal.

I think my favorite essay is “My Friend Jim” which is about a friend from high school and college who passed away a few years ago.  He always had a little different angle on the world to offer.

Of course you must have memories or ideas to write about.  Fortunately I've always had a good memory particularly for interactions with folks.  Other than my memories, my favorite source is conversations with folks who trigger thoughts for essays.   Sometimes they come from strangers that I manage to cause to speak instead of staring at their phones.  Sometimes they come from friends.  By the way, most of my friends are smart and say “the darndest things.”

Although I started writing essays as a funeral joke for my friends, I soon realized that they---my essays, not my friends---were therapeutic---they helped me recall things from my memory that I'm pretty sure no one would ever ask me to recount.  When was the last time someone asked you to talk about your childhood games or your old automobiles?  I'll bet never.

It is truly amazing what one can remember about events from long ago if one is motivated to do so.  For me the motivation is my essays and the folks who read them and give me feedback.

On average I've managed about four per month for several years.  Let's see: 400 divided by 4 divided by 12 equals 8.333333. That means I've been writing these between eight and nine years. 

Somewhere along the way, I realized that the essays taken together amount to my autobiography…never my intention but there it is.

Also somewhere along the way when I thought my death was imminent (more than once), I cobbled together a few of my essays into a book published by Amazon, Old Guy Has Final Word

My death was not as imminent as I thought, so I published a couple more books: Old Guy: I'm Still Here and Old Guy: Folks I Like.

I've never sold many books, but I never really expected to; however, they make wonderful---and cheap---gifts.

Once I realized that essay writing came pretty naturally to me, I tried my hand at fictional short story writing.  That's an entirely different bird which I find really, REALLY difficult, but I've produced a few  which I find satisfactory.

Also I tried my hand at poetry, traditional poetry, you know the kind with a regular meter and rhyme.  I've written a bunch of these, and I'm satisfied that I'm no Longfellow, but they're good enough to pass on to folks who have a tolerance for poetry.

I feel that my greatest “writing” accomplishment is that I've managed to  encourage other folks to write their own essays and short stories and poems.  Some have even turned their pieces for my website into books.  I'm proud of that.

Or as Matthew McConaughey might say, “Write on, write on, write on.”  I apologize for that, but I'm not sorry.