I have donated my collection of books on writing to my local library. Why? We will get to that.

The books were gathered over a period of 40 years or so. I didn’t publish my first novel until 2013, but I cannot recall a time I didn’t think about telling my stories on paper.

The books, more than 50, are a hodgepodge. Some are wonderful (Anne Lamont, Natalie Goldberg, John Gardner, Elizabeth George); some are nuts-and-bolts guides; some need to be recycled into pulp – immediately.

Curious about the monetary investment I had made in the books, I started a quick calculation of the retail prices. I stopped counting at $750, knowing full-well that return-on-investment of both money and time don’t come into play in the writing and publishing game. I can say that each book I purchased filled a specific need at a specific time. I have no regrets.

So, to the question of “why.”

No — at 75 years of age I’m not about to croak. At least I have no plans in that regard.

No — I’m not downsizing. One of the main reasons we bought our house was due to the abundance of bookshelves.

The reason must be, then, that I think I know all there is to know about writing. The exact opposite is the truth. I have found the best approach to writing fiction is to convince yourself that you know absolutely nothing. In my case, that seems to be easy to do.

The abandonment of rules and strictures — that sense of freedom — is necessary if one hopes to write well.

However, one can’t play tennis without a net.

When I speak at schools, I’m often asked why there are no commas or quotation marks in “Paperboy.” I give my reasons, which I maintain are solid, but I’m always careful to remind students that you have to know all the rules of grammar and punctuation before you have license to break them.

A reoccurring character in my fiction might have the best answer for why I’m donating my collection to the library. In Chapter 28 of “Copyboy,” Mr. Spiro says:

“We don’t own books. We borrow them and pass them on. What we own is what the books leave inside us.”

Thanks, Mr. Spiro.

However, the poet T.S. Eliot has the ultimate answer:

“We shall not cease from exploration.
And the end of all our exploring.
Will be to arrive where we started.
And know the place for the first time.”

Thanks, Mr. Eliot.

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