Daily Wisdom-isms: Robert E. Howard

I’m fairly sure some of you have heard of Robert E. Howard. I’m sure all of you have heard of Conan the Barbarian. Conan was Howard’s most popular character though he birthed many others. He’s also credited with single-handedly creating the genre of “sword and sorcery”. Where did this pioneering writer see most of his works printed? Strictly in pulp magazines. The junk mags of the depression era. He, sadly, never published an actual book during his life. Today’s anecdote comes from a conversation he had with Novalyne  Price Ellis, the local English teacher.

Ms. Price commented that she wanted a side job writing for the pulps like Robert did.

He looked her square in the eye and said, “It’s one or the other. You can’t do both.”

—taken from “One Who Walked Alone.”

And isn’t it true? There’s this line. This unspoken step in the proper social progression. See, when we’re young, we have all these grand ideas for the legends we’re going to make for ourselves. We’re told over and over that we can be ANYTHING we want to be. So we want to be things like painters, actors, astronauts, writers and pro athletes. These desires ultimately shape who we become. But here’s the kicker: Somewhere along the way these dreams get abandoned.

Artists end up architects. Actors become politicians. Writers become English Teachers. And pro athletes sell cars. This happens in almost every instance because at some point most people abandon the search for their dreams and become comfortable in a “practical lifestyle”. But why?

“It’s one or the other. You can’t do both.”

So what about the intrepid fools who don’t give up? Some people never lose sight of their dreams. Some people can’t. No matter how hard they try to fit in, to become comfortable and complacent.  Sure, these passionate fools cross the line from time to time. Even starving artists have to eat. But they never stay. The pull of their dream is too strong, their passion too great. For these daring individuals, life isn’t about seeing how high you can “level up” your material junk. It’s about creating. It’s about leaving behind a legacy that will live on and inspire lives long after they’ve passed.

Novalyne Price never wrote for the pulps. She was an English Teacher for most of her life and her only published work was a memoir about her experience with Howard that was written after she retired. And Robert E. Howard? He never crossed the line into proper social progression. He committed suicide at age 32 and his legacy survives to this day.

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About Universal Shift

I am the Sonata Unusual. I coat myself with some obtuse angle too far below zero to become any warmer. I create motivation, activate schemas, moisten gardens with scents of natural honeydew. Construct this meaning, you sleepy flock. Silence your singing—despairing contortions out of tune. Shatter the brittle butterfly glass with your hideous wailing. I am born of my god’s imagination. When I die I shall meet him. For there are many things to discuss over tea…or scotch.

Posted on May 17, 2013, in Author, Fiction, Philosophy, Religion and Spirituality, Spirituality, Uncategorized, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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