By Aaron Starnes
On July 19, 2012 Regan's PR Daily posted an article discussing 10 quotes from a personal hero of mine, Hunter S. Thompson.
A movie made about his book "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" earned him a new wave of recognition in the late '90s. This movie celebrated the book in one of the best book-to-film adaptations I know of. It also created a new fan base for Thompson, one attracted to the over-the-top scenarios and wild drug use portrayed in the film. Beneath all this hype there was a man who was, at the end of the day a writer, and a damn good one.
“As things stand now, I am going to be a writer. I'm not sure that I'm going to be a good one or even a self-supporting one, but until the dark thumb of fate presses me to the dust and says 'you are nothing', I will be a writer.”
I have read that to gain to become the exceptional wordsmith Thompson set out to be he would rewrite books from his favorite authors. He would sit at a typewriter with a novels by Hemingway or Fitzgerald and hammer out the stories verbatim. This put him inside the book. He familiarized himself with grammar and vocabulary this way. I think I will pick a favorite author of mine and try this exercise.
“I think the trick is that you have to use words well enough so that these nickel-and-dimers who come around bitching about being objective or the advertisers don't like it are rendered helpless by the fact that it's good. That's the way people have triumphed over conventional wisdom in journalism.”
When you think of established professional writers you think they maybe have learned tricks or developed callouses to the pain of writing. I always love reading the quotes by famous authors that discuss how the pain never really goes away, writers must simply persevere.
“The only other important thing to be said about “Fear & Loathing” at this time is that it was fun to write, and that's rare—for me, at least, because I've always considered writing the most hateful kind of work... Nothing is fun when you have to do it—over and over, again and again—or else you'll be evicted, and that gets old.”
Another favorite from this article is Thompson's attitude toward deadlines. If there is a better articulated description of the extra motivation provided by imminent doom feelings of a deadline crushing down on a writer, I haven't read it.
“Every deadline was a crisis … No doubt it has something to do with a deep-seated personality defect, or maybe a kink in whatever blood vessel leads into the pineal gland … On the other hand, it might easily be something as simple and basically perverse as whatever instinct it is that causes a jackrabbit to wait until the last possible second to dart across the road in front of a speeding car.”
When I say he's a hero I don't mean I want to drop loads of acid and stay bent on scotch, cocaine and Chartreuse. No, I only hope that I can gain the mastery over words he had, and see beyond the established way of doing things within my life and my profession. I want the foresight to break rules and break ground to communicate in a novel way as Thompson did. If things get a little weird along the way I'm prepared for that.