First of all, a moment of silence for the departed master, Mr. Elmore Leonard.
Thank you. He will be sorely missed. But his words will live on forever.
This past week, I started back to school, and one of my fellow students, who loves fantasy, treated me to pictures he
took while visiting the home of Robert E. Howard in Cross Plains, Texas.
For those of you who don’t know, Mr. Howard was the creator of Conan the Barbarian, as well as Solomon Kane. He also wrote boxing stories and was wanting to write Westerns of the tall tale variety when he died at the age of 30. It was suicide brought on by the impending death of his mother from tuberculosis.
Mr. Howard was prolific writer. When he lived in Cross Plains, it was a booming oil town, and he was somewhat controversial because he didn’t work in the oil fields or hold down a regular job. Instead, he wrote tales for such magazines as Weird Tales. There were others, but Weird Tales was the most famous. It was in this magazine that all his Conan stories appeared, as well as some about King Kull (a character who lived before Conan in Atlantis) and Solomon Kane.
I’ve read an interesting biography of Mr. Howard called Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard by Mark Finn. It tells, among other things, of his life in Cross Plains, his correspondence with H.P. Lovecraft, and his relationship with Weird Tales. It also tells Mr. Howard’s account of how Conan was created. (I won’t spoil it for you.)
There are several good pictures in this book, but for me, none of them are quite equal to what my friend brought back from his visit. The one you see here is probably my favorite, for it shows where Mr. Howard wrote all these stories. You will note that it’s not exactly a suite. In fact, it looks like a closed-in porch to me. As best I remember, Mr. Howard lived with his parents all his life, especially after his father died and he had to take care of his mother.
And yet, with all that, in his short life, Mr. Howard managed to produce an amazing amount of writing. And all in this little room, on that chair that looks uncomfortable, with that Underwood typewriter. What might he have done with a computer and comfortable office?
Of course, we’ll never know. He lived and died long before the time of computers, word processors, and the other comforts we know today. So the next time you go to your writer’s nook—no matter what it may be—and you’re feeling like maybe it’s not classy or comfortable enough for you, think of this picture. I intend to stick a copy of it on the wall over my desk, just to remind me of how much easier I have it.
Just some food for thought.