The coffee house door banged open and in came Paddy Chayefsky. “Armenian coffee in honor of William Saroyan.”
While I was making that small cup, Chayefsky said, “I loved Saroyan’s fearlessness and his willingness to put in his work what no one else dared to write. For instance, he said what we all want to believe. ‘Everybody has got to die, but I have always believed an exception would be made in my case.’ He wrote that when he was young. In the story The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze, if I remember correctly. But age did not tame that wonder from Fresno!
“He always stood up to write. Standing made him write harder and faster so he could have time to enjoy the pleasures of life and to make the money to pay his divorce debts and his gambling debts and all the other matters. I also think that standing helped Saroyan roar in a way that would not have happened if he sat at a desk.”
“Good to see you.” I served the coffee. “You haven’t been here in a long time. You should stick around. Later this morning we have a group of young writers who come in every two weeks to discuss their progress. You could give them some advice.”
After a sip from the coffee, Chayefsky said, “I’ve said it before. I’ll repeat myself. If I have anything to say to young writers, it’s to stop thinking of writing as art. Think of it as work. If you’re an artist, whatever you do is going to be art. If you’re not an artist, at least you can do a good day’s work.
“You still make a good cup of coffee, but you’ve been distracted by many other things. Go back to your writing and do that work.”