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Billy the Kid

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I donít blame you for writing of me as you have. You had to believe other stories, but then I donít know if any one would believe anything good of me anyway.
--
Billy the Kid's comment to a Las Vegas Gazette reporter (December, 1880)
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Billy the Kid

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I had gone thoroughly through some of the all-fiction magazines and I made up my mind that if people were paid for writing such rot as I read I could write stories just as rotten. Although I had never written a story, I knew absolutely that I could write stories just as entertaining and probably a lot more so than any I chanced to read in those magazines.
I knew nothing about the technique of story writing, and now, after eighteen years of writing, I still know nothing about the technique, although with the publication of my new novel, Tarzan and the Lost Empire, there are 31 books on my list. I had never met an editor, or an author or a publisher. l had no idea of how to submit a story or what I could expect in payment. Had I known anything about it at all I would never have thought of submitting half a novel; but that is what I did.
Thomas Newell Metcalf, who was then editor of The All-Story magazine, published by Munsey, wrote me that he liked the first half of a story I had sent him, and if the second half was as good he thought he might use it. Had he not given me this encouragement, I would never have finished the story, and my writing career would have been at an end, since l was not writing because of any urge to write, nor for any particular love of writing. l was writing because I had a wife and two babies, a combination which does not work well without money.

 
Edgar Rice Burroughs
 

I would keep writing even without the eventual possibility of glory. Really, with writing, the idea that I was going to be able to support myself was a long shot. Iím living off my writing now, without grants or a part time job, and it feels so tenuous. It could go downhill tomorrow, you know? I was writing before I thought it was even a real possibility to support myself with my writing, and Iíll keep writing after it becomes clear that it isnít a real possibility after all. Not because I ďmust writeĒ or because itís ďin my bloodĒ or anything poetic like that. Or maybe those are just fancy ways of describing this certainty I have that all of my worth is wrapped up in my writing. From very young it seemed to me that writing was the only thing I did that was worthwhile. That had a chance of lasting. So, my work is something I have always given priority. The rest of my life can be falling apart, and it often seems to be, and I still take the time to work on the comic, or short stories. I am always moving forward with my writing. In a way I do treat everything else as a support system for the writing, but it isnít really. And by treating it that way, I tend to neglect it.

 
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Ever since I can remember, I've always wanted to tell stories, but I never had the patience to sit down at a typewriter and write short stories or anything like that. I started writing songs as a way of communicating ideas the best way I could.

 
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[In these stories, Lafferty mostly] seems to be writing about places that are not on the map but are real just the same. Lafferty was a traveler in his youth, and he may have glimpsed some of these places on the watery horizon; whether he was sober at the time is not the issue right now. ... [Lafferty] has a reading knowledge of all the languages of the Latin, German, and Slavic families, as well as Gaelic and Greek. The army sent him to Morotai, New Guinea and the Philippines, and at one time he could speak pretty good Passar Malay and Tagalog. He turned to writing about six years ago, as a substitute for serious drinking. The tavernkeepers weep while we rejoice: Lafferty's stories are full of a warm, Bacchic glow, recollected in sobriety ó euphoria, comradeship, nostalgia, and the ever-renewed belief that something wonderful may happen.

 
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