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Martin Eden 88







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Books:

Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf




it was tacitly understood that it was to be a long engagement. They did not ask Martin to go to work, nor to cease writing. They did not intend to encourage him to mend himself. And he aided and abetted them in their unfriendly designs, for going to work was farthest from his thoughts. "I wonder if youll like what I have done!" he said to Ruth several days later. "Ive decided that boarding with my sister is too expensive, and I am going to board myself. Ive rented a little room out in North Oakland, retired neighborhood and all the rest, you know, and Ive bought an oil-burner on which to cook." Ruth was overjoyed. The oil-burner especially pleased her. "That was the way Mr. Butler began his start," she said. Martin frowned inwardly at the citation of that worthy gentleman, and went on: "I put stamps on all my manuscripts and started them off to the editors again. Then to-day I moved in, and to-morrow I start to work." "A position!" she cried, betraying the gladness of her surprise in all her body, nestling closer to him, pressing his hand, smiling. "And you never told me! What is it?" He shook his head. "I meant that I was going to work at my writing." Her face fell, and he went on hastily. "Dont misjudge me. I am not going in this time with any iridescent ideas. It is to be a cold, prosaic, matter-of-fact business proposition. It is better than going to sea again, and I shall earn more money than any position in Oakland can bring an unskilled man." "You see, this vacation I have taken has given me perspective. I havent been working the life out of my body, and I havent been writing, at least not for publication. All Ive done has been to love you and to think. Ive read some, too, but it has been part of my thinking, and I have read principally magazines. I have generalized about myself, and the world, my place in it, and my chance to win to a place that will be fit for you. Also, Ive been reading Spencers Philosophy of Style, and found out a lot of what was the matter with me--or my writing, rather; and for that matter with most of the writing that is published every month in the magazines." "But the upshot of it all--of my thinking and reading and loving--is that I am going to move to Grub Street. I shall leave masterpieces alone and do hack-work--jokes, paragraphs, feature articles, humorous verse, and society verse--all the rot for which there seems so much demand. Then there are the newspaper syndicates, and the newspaper short-story syndicates, and the syndicates for the Sunday supplements. I can go ahead and hammer out the stuff they want, and earn the equivalent of a good salary by it. There are free-lances, you know, who earn as much as four or five hundred a month. I dont care to become as they; but Ill earn a good living, and have plenty of time to myself, which I wouldnt have in any position." "Then, Ill have my spare time for study and for real work. In between the grind Ill try my hand at masterpieces, and Ill study and prepare myself for the writing of masterpieces. Why, I am amazed at the distance I have come already. When I first tried to write, I had nothing to write about except a few paltry experiences which I neither understood nor appreciated. But I had no thoughts. I really didnt. I didnt even have the words with which to think. My experiences were so many meaningless pictures. But as I began to add to my knowledge, and to my vocabulary, I saw something more in my experiences than mere pictures. I retained the pictures and I found their interpretation. That was when I began to do good work, when I wrote Adventure, Joy, The Pot, The Wine of Life, The Jostling Street, the Love-cycle, and the Sea Lyrics. I shall write more like them, and better; but I shall do it in my spare time. My feet are on the solid earth, now. Hack-work and income first, masterpieces afterward. Just to show you, I wrote half a dozen jokes last

Martin Eden page 87        Martin Eden page 89