People are always asking me, "Bloch, what kind of mail does a professional writer get? What kind of mail does a professional writer get? What kind of mail does a professional writer get? What kind of-" And so forth. It's enough to drive me cr azy.
So finally I decided to do something about it.
I went crazy.
Just to show you why, I'll give you a sample of my incoming correspondence for November 22, 1951. (If there are any smarties who protest that November 22 is Thanksgiving Day and for this reason no mail is delivered, all I can say is that they belong ov er here in the States: I'd gladly trade places with them sight unseen, if only to get away from the postman's ring. It's a rather large ring with a fake diamond in it, and it hurts my eyes.)
So without further ado, I take you to the morning of November 22nd, and drop you there with a dull thud.
I sit down at my desk with the correspondence on one side of my typewriter and the wastebasket on the other. I contemplate the stack of letters and packages, then pick up a letter-opener and run my finger along the edge. Sighing deeply as I realise it isn't quite sharp enough to cut my throat, I attack the mail.
Ah, a letter from Ireland-and not in Gaelic, either!
This I must read...I open it with breathless anticipation (also the letter-opener, which makes it easier) and what do I find?
A wretched scrawl from somebody named Willis, trying to cadge material for a fanmag. This goes in the wastebasket, just to line the bottom properly
Then the inevitable dunning letters. One, two, three, four, five-I like to get bills, because I don't have to bother opening them. Into the basket. Makes a pretty pile, too.
And then, a thunderbolt. As I take up the next piece, the horrid realisation hits me.
Galaxy has folded!
Yes, folded. The postman must have sat on it. [He must have been getting behind in his deliveries.]
I unfold it and put it aside, then pick up a fan magazine. It's from abroad. Something called Slant: one of those dry, pedantic publications-but then, these chaps have no sense of humor, you know. I riffle the pages and check some of the more g laring errors and inaccuracies-for example, a pen sketch of Lee Hoffman which shows her as a White girl.
Clunk! It hits the basket as I pick up a letter from a prominent editor, begging me to do another novel under one of my pseudonyms-Robert Heinlein or A. E. Van Vogt. I laugh heartily until the tears come to my eyes: then wipe them with a thousand dolla r bill from my fine collection of Japanese war currency. A brief pencilled notation, advising the editor that from now on I will use only one pseudonym, Ray Bradbury, and the letter is filed away until the afternoon, at which time I shall write the novel.
Now, a 'fan letter' from still another amateur editor. This requires special treatment. He had written asking for material in the past, and I begged off, telling him I was under doctor's orders not to do any more work. Whereupon he wrote back, "I don't believe you. What's supposed to be the matter?"
My answer was brief and to the point.
Again, his reply. "I don't believe you."
So I wrote, "Am sending you a specimen under separate cover."
Back came his letter. "Examined your specimen and you don't have kidney trouble at all."
To which I answered, "Are you positive?"
Answer, as of today: "No, but your specimen is!"
This bothers me, because all the time I thought I was sending him a negative answer...
Now a note from Forrest J. Ackerman, who is starting a movement to introduce a branch of naval dianetics, in an effort to make it easier to clear the decks. This is filed, with other dianetics gags, in the standard memory bank, or wastebasket.
And now, a flattering invitation from a learned scientist who has just read a lunar flight story of mine and is so impressed that he urges me to take a flying jump at the moon...
What's this? Another note from the Willis person, quote: "Hurry up with that article, I haven't got all day!"
Such persistence-always harping on something.
Clunk...into the basket.
An invitation to read one of my stories aloud at the annual banquet of the School for the Deaf...A solicitation for an international fund now being raised to scrape the guano off the white cliffs of Dover...and a whole series of requests for my autogra ph from various tradesmen who would like to see it on cheques. (We spell it 'checks' over here, but those foreigners can't learn to speak English. Can you imagine such stuff? "Necques" and "wreques" and "deques" too, I suppos e.)
The wastebasket is almost full.
I reach down and scrabble around in it to test the depth, and then breathe a sigh of relief. My correspondence is at an end, and there is room. With a stern cry of "Rockets Awaaaaaay!" I slit myself down the middle with the letter opener, pul l out my contents, read the entrails for signs, and hurl myself into the basket.
That's where I am now, along with this article.
And here I intend to stay, unless that damned Willis finds me...
Data entry and page scans provided by Judy Bemis
Updated September 26, 2003. If you have a comment about these web pages please send a note to the Fanac Webmaster. Thank you.