Tom is 73 years old and has been writing for over 50 years. Early on, he concentrated on short fiction then veered off to story poems. Now he does both. He is married, no children, or pets. He worked at many jobs in his life, longest as a computer programmer.
Tom's piece appeared in Pond 47
Why do you write?
I write to make use of my life experiences, to correct, mourn, or exaggerate them, also the lives of people I’ve met along the way who have impressed, depressed, shocked, or amazed me, many from my two hitches in the service, the housing project where I grew up and college—to possibly touch other lives. It’s easier sharing and expanding my existence through writing than by boring, (merely entertaining?) the person next to my bar stool. I haven’t touched booze for a long time. I keep my own council, in writing and editing too. I like to think I succeed in changing the ordinary into extraordinary and vice versa.
Who is your favorite author and why?
My favorite author is Jack Kerouac, also F. Scott Fitzgerald. Writing with the brilliance of the latter was just a crazy dream. Kerouac made me feel like I might find a place. (Not only On the Road but short stories, “October in the Railroad Earth” and the one referenced in “Menthol.”) Jack was from a Lowell, MA, a textile city like Pawtucket, RI where I grew up. He was raised Catholic as I was and he went to sea. Jack in the Merchant Marine, U.S. Navy for me. Short story author Irwin Shaw because his work is perfect: (“Sailor Off the Bremen” ) My favorite poet is John Skoyles – I love the way he infuses autobiography into his work as well as his skill at building wonderful poems with an economy of words. I’m a fan of two Richards also, Hugo and Brautigan, add Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I must mention Robert L. Harrison who should be the Poet Laureate of at least Long Island.
Tell us about the mechanics of how you write.
For my short stories, I make lists that run sometimes three or four pages, just words, phrases and sentences. I take one at a time to the top of blank page and expound on it as much as I’m able, try for paragraphs. When I am out of “prompts,” I juggle and attempt to make sense of what I’ve accumulated. Sometimes I think I’m back writing a computer program. I use old journal entries for both fiction and poetry. I keep a pad by at bedside to jot down ideas and thoughts. Of course: Jack Kerouac’s 31 Beliefs About Writing, is important e.g. “Submissive to everything, open, listening.”
Finally, what do you think about Carp, the fish, not our website?
If I had a pest, it would be a goldfish and guppies too. The larger version of the fish I saw at Lake Mead mesmerized me. Kids were feeding them popcorn. The water was paved with them.