Short Term Personal Savior: Neal Stephenson

Every so often someone inspires me in such a way that I designate them my Short Term Personal Savior. There are many ways one can receive this special designation. It could be through a lesson I have learned from them, a way that they are living life that is inspirational or that they are just plain badass.

Today’s Short Term Personal Savior is Neal Stephenson. Here is why:

  1. He is hands down one of my favorite authors and I feel probably one of the greatest writers of the last 20 years. I mean, this guy not only writes novels, he writes epics. His last work was The Baroque Cycle which consisted of three books, each nearly 900 pages long… Which he wrote by hand… i.e. Longhand… On legal pads… With a quill pen… Badass!
  2. He discourages almost all public interaction in an effort to increase his productivity as a writer. To him, e-mail, speaking engagements, silly questions about petty details in his book that he has not only answered dozens of times but are also easy to find his answers to them on the internets, all of these keep him from doing the one thing he was put on this earth to do – write. Which he explains thusly:

“Writing novels is hard, and requires vast, unbroken slabs of time. Four quiet hours is a resource that I can put to good use. Two slabs of time, each two hours long, might add up to the same four hours, but are not nearly as productive as an unbroken four. If I know that I am going to be interrupted, I can’t concentrate, and if I suspect that I might be interrupted, I can’t do anything at all. Likewise, several consecutive days with four-hour time-slabs in them give me a stretch of time in which I can write a decent book chapter, but the same number of hours spread out across a few weeks, with interruptions in between them, are nearly useless.”

  1. His only web presence is a page on The Well the contents of which one could basically boil down to this phrase:

“All of my time and attention are spoken for–several times over. Please do not ask for them.”

He is not trying to be an ass. He is just explaining why he does not even have the time to put up a pretty web page or even hire someone to do so for him. He is caring for his inner introvert.

It is for these reasons that Neal Stephenson rocks the block and is worthy of being my Short Term Personal Savior.

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