It’s a tough life being a writer.

Waiting for a Train on the way to God knows where.
Waiting for a Train on the way to God knows where.

It’s a tough life. That’s what he said as he waited for the train to come rolling into the Wichita station.

He was a surly little man with a head of full brown curly hair.

Clean shirt.

It was blue with green checks and had been both starched and pressed.

His trousers were black and had a lot of rayon mixed with the wool blend.

His blazer was brown.

From a distance it looked like leather.

He looked out of place.

Train riders were wrinkled folks.

“What’s tough about it?” I asked.

“My job.”

“What do you do?”

“I generally need to keep it a secret.”

I arched an eyebrow.

He shrugged.

“It’s my mama,” he said. “She doesn’t want anybody to know.”

“Why not?”

He leaned forward in his chair, pulled a chunk of chewing gum from the sole of his shoe, and said, “I’m a writer.”

“That’s an honorable job,” I said.

“Not for mama.”

“What do you write?”


“What’s wrong with fiction?”

“Mama’s a real religious woman,” he said.

“Most mothers are.”

“She’s a ten commandment woman,” he said.

“The ten commandments don’t say anything bad about writing,” I told him.

“Have you read them lately?”

I shook my head. “It’s been a while.”

“I break the wrong commandment,” he said

“Which one?”

“I told you I write fiction,” he said.

I nodded.

He sighed.

“I tell lies,” he said. “I tell lies, and people believe them.”

I thought he might cry.

He did, too.

“Where you headed?” I asked.

“To prison,” he said.

I must have looked surprised.

“I’m on my way to visit mama.”

“I thought we was religious, God-fearing woman,” I said.

“She is,” he said. “And when I wrote my first book, she went a little crazy,” he said.

“What happened?”

“She read it, went out, and robbed liquor store.”

“Why would she do that?”

“I’m her baby boy,” he said.


“She didn’t want me to go to hell alone.”

I write fiction, too, but my mama always told people I was still writing gardening and travel for Southern Living Magazine. It seemed like a better place to be.


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  • Sally Berneathy

    ROFL! And on the flip side, if we say we paid the rent but really bought books with that money, we’re not lying; we’re just creating fiction.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Sally, I believe there’s a thin line between truth an fiction, and it blurred a long time ago.

  • Hahahahaha Loved this.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Have you ever had that feeling, Woelf? My mother went to a hard-core fundamentalist church, and when I wrote “Little Lies,” one of her friends bought it, ripped some of the pages out and gave it to my mama. She wore sackcloth and ashes for years. She never told anyone I wrote books. She said I worked on a newspaper.

  • Darlene Jones

    LOL too funny.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Darlene, it may be autobiographical.

  • Great shaggy dog story.

    Silly fundamentalists: fiction is TRUE. Truer than daily life.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Behind each fictional story, Alicia, is a boulder, not a nugget, of truth.

  • Catherine Green

    Do people really behave that way? Seriously? I mean, my parents are proud to say I’m a writer, although I reckon my dad still thinks it is a hobby and my true profession is being housewife… 😉

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Catherine, I just woke up, needed a blog, didn’t have one, and wrote whatever came into my mind that morning. I know my own mother was extremely proud I wrote for newspapers and magazines. Then she read one of my books. From then on, she simply told people I worked for newspapers and magazines. I think I used too many four-letter words she didn’t think I knew.

  • Marco

    Haha, a goodie! Just like you said in the comments bellow, a line is thin between true and fiction.

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