There are three writers I look up to more then any others. Three writers who I believe straddle the “penny a word” pulp fiction writers of the past with the writers of today. Writers who not only wrote seriously but seriously wrote. They were and are men that wrote anything and everything. Short stories, novellas, novels, screenplays, crime fiction, westerns, sci-fi, horror. men that it was and is hard to pigeon hole their genre but are discernible by their style.
Each of these men are radically different. Harlan is known for his nuclear temper, Matheson by his even handedness and Leonard somewhere in between.
Sadly, we have lost Matheson this week.
Richard Matheson wrote everything; screenplays, westerns, crime dramas. He was one of the original writers on The Twilight Zone, writing one of it’s best known episodes “Nightmare at 20,000 feet”. he wrote the 25 novels and nearly 100 short stories. Works of his that were adapted to the big screen include multiple versions of “I Am Legend”, “Steel”, and “The Incredible Shrinking Man”. He was the creative force behind the classic Star Trek episode “The Enemy Within”. As I said above, he was part of a group of writers who seriously wrote and wrote seriously, something that I feel is missing today.
When I talk to writers today, many of them are waiting for that JK Rowling/Stephanie Myers/EL James deal to come along. Write a handful of books and make millions. (This isn’t a dig at those writers, but rather at our perception). Matheson, like other writers of his era did and those remaining do, looked at writing as a full-time job, because it was. They had to write something every day and something sellable every day because if they didn’t they wouldn’t be able to support their family.
It’s a lesson I know I could learn from, to look at my craft not as a hobby, but as a way of life. The bills don’t take a day off just because the muse has.
This blog has taken a much different turn then I intended, so I’m going to just finish by saying, “Thank you Richard Matheson.” thank you for the stories, thank you for the words, thank you for being an inspiration.