I read with great interest this piece (here) in the WSJ about Enrique Ferrari an Argentine novelist and janitor. Yep . . . Janitor. Combine that tidbit with the fact that he’s an award winning novelist on his sixth thriller and really the man could become his own character in a pretty interesting work.
Mr. Ferrari, a 44-year-old janitor who works nights in the Argentine capital’s metro, has spiky black hair and a Karl Marx tattoo. He didn’t go to college or study writing but his novels have won literary prizes in Europe and Cuba. His sixth book, to be published in the spring, is “If You Are Reading This,” about a man who travels back to 1940 to preemptively kill Leon Trotsky’s assassin.
I wrote yesterday about writer’s ennui (see here) and finding inspiration to keep on writing. I remember an old post I wrote on road marches in my old blog, Publish or Perish (see here). In that post I tried to discuss writing in terms of a road march and the feelings that both inspire. This article about Ferrari inspires those same thoughts about road marching.
I remember many road marches when I was in the military where I felt like I couldn’t continue. What kept me going? Looking up at the front of the line to the people who were twenty meters, fifty meters, even 100 meters up ahead of me. If they could get to that point where they are walking up there, and we all started at the same place, then I can at least get to that point to. So I would make it to that point, look up, and repeat the process. A never-ending cycle that kept me in the march.
Here I am, an executive with a nice office, a home office, a nice computer or three that I can write on, all the comforts I could hope for and I’m not writing nor am I editing. Then there is Mr. Ferrari. He’s a janitor who composes and edits his work while he mops.
The other day I referenced a post by Eric Lahti in which he discussed Steven King’s writing habits (see here). I did not enjoy King’s On Writing as much as he seemed to (see here). I remember though that King wrote about how he was constantly reading. In the doctor’s office waiting for his appointment, he would whip out his book and read. In the car he had books on tape. He was reading reading reading, in an effort to perfect his craft. If you aren’t doing that, he argued, what are you doing being a writer? I liked that.
Perhaps I should quit and become a janitor.