By Gerald Hausman
Bokeelia, FL, USA
The pizza deliveryman came to the door and while I hunted for the right change, he said, "May I ask you what you do for a living?"
"Sure. I'm a writer."
I laughed. But he wasn't joking. "How does a man make a living at writing without being published?" I asked.
"Well," he said, shrugging, "I make my living as a pizza delivery person, but I'm really a writer."
"Published?" This time he laughed. "I expect to be very soon. I have my novel in the van. Would you like to see it?"
"Maybe next time. But you still haven't answered my question. How do you make a living as a writer while delivering pizza? Are the two jobs related?"
"Not at all. I just see time a little differently than some people. You see, in my mind, I'm you, a published writer, and you're me, a pizza guy. Get it?"
I nodded. "OK, I get it. But, you know, I just thought of a way you can be unpublished and still make money off your writing. So maybe you're on to something here."
"What is it?"
"Well, a friend of mine wrote a film script. The script was optioned more than ten years ago. Each year the movie isn't made and he earns about 20 thousand dollars in option money. That is, the film company pays for the right to make the film, year-after-year, with a final payout when they start filming."
The pizza man laughed. "And they're still not ready to shoot?"
"My friend hopes they won't be ready for 20 more years."
"And that's how he makes his living?"
"It puts food on the table."
"I already got that covered...pizza! Hey, what's the most money you ever made at writing?"
"Well, I once sold a ten line poem to a shirt company. They made custom clothing with leather and denim and they put poetry on the front of the shirt."
"How much did you make for your poem?"
"About fifty dollars a word for about twenty lines."
"I'd like to see that shirt sometime."
"You're looking at it."
"Is that an ink stain on the front?"
"No, that's my poem. It's been washed hundreds of times, so the words are getting blurry."
"So . . . what's the best thing about being a writer?"
"Hey. We're friends, you can have this one for nothing - if you read my novel."
So I sampled his novel while he studied the poem on my shirt. He was a pretty good writer. But the pizza...well, that was Pulitzer Prize-winning, and I told him so.
His jacket said, Perky's Island Pizza, A Novel Choice!