Better Than MoneyWritten by Catherine Rankovic
"That's really great," I said.
"And whenever I got sort of stuck while I was writing it, I would look at the essays in your book and see what you had done. I used them as a sort of template."
"I'm glad," I said.
"I never thought I'd write any nonfiction. It was such a surprise!"
"Poets tend to write good nonfiction," I said. "Could you tell," I added, "in those earlier essays, whose template I was using? James Baldwin's," I said. "You can see me imitating his sentence structure. Until I got my own."
"I love James Baldwin. I've read a lot of his fiction. I love Sonny's Blues, and use it in every class I teach. But I didn't know he wrote essays."
"He wrote great, great essays. His fiction really doesn't compare at all. I hope you can get the collected-essays book called The Price of the Ticket. If I have any regrets," I said to the poet, "it's that during his lifetime I must have had the chance to hear James Baldwin read from his work, maybe on a campus, and I must have passed it up. I'd never even heard of him. I was already in my 30s when I first read his work. But his essays were my inspiration."
"Yours were mine!"
And later I thought: That's more proof that only good has come of my having the nerve to self-publish. I don't mean money; I can go work at Wal-Mart and make money. I mean true genuine good.
Writer, with 30+ years' writing and publishing experience, 20+ years' teaching experience. Last book read: Mrs. Lincoln by Catherine Clinton.
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