The world needs you: Remembering Tom Wolfe, and remembering to show up

I was talking to my friend Seth Horan about, among other things, the death this week of Tom Wolfe, the great journalist and author. [Aside: There will be a podcast with Mr. Horan; I just have some work to do on it. Patience, please.]

I asked if we, as creators, have a responsibility to live up to our heroes.

His short answer: no. Plenty of people are.

Which I guess leaves me to look in the mirror and wonder if maybe I'm not doing enough. It's possible, maybe probable. I could definitely do a lot more showing up, as Stephen King puts it:

Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.

Or, perhaps more aptly, as Wolfe's contemporary Gay Talese — who, along with Joan Didion, as among the last of the founders of "New Journalism — says, I might need to get off my ass a little more.

I'm not going to do much reminiscing on Wolfe. I'm a big fan. He made a huge difference in print journalism. But his death is more a wake-up call for me to do some work than, say, Jimmy Breslin's. He felt like one of the last of a dying breed of OGs.

Michael Lewis: How Tom Wolfe Became Tom Wolfe »

One of the things I think we miss when we remember Wolfe and Breslin and Hunter S. Thompson and we think of Talese and Didion is that they made something new when they were young. Their brand of "new journalism" is said to have started in the early 1960s and became mainstream by the early 1980s.

If my work was in a pile of others' work on their desks, would my heroes notice my work?

I think I'm getting better. I'm not sure. I do know I'm going to keep at it.

So, fortunately, are others.

Seth mentioned Matt Taibbi as a strong newer voice. He has a wonderful new serialized novel out. I mentioned Chuck Klosterman. I forget sometimes about Douglas Rushkoff and Chuck Palahniuk.

And of course Cal Fussman, who wrote for Esquire for 25 years and recently started a truly excellent podcast.

Be it resolved. Get off my ass. Show up every day. Don't ship every day, necessarily, but show up and get something done. Grow. You, too. The world needs us.


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