THE ECCENTRIC ON KAUAI

I think most writers are eccentric. We tend to be loners. Articles, columns, letters, novels are not usually written by a bunch of folks. There are writer’s clubs and courses in colleges and universities but I think most of the best writers go along with the idea: if you want to write write. Study other writers. Read. I also think many of us find  our creative process dwindles the more social contact we have.

I also think writing is more a calling than a profession.

Filled with words and ideas we have to get them on paper. If we spoke them all the world would go deaf. I blame my addiction to words on my Irish roots, we’re filled with them. I think too many of my ancestors hung upside down and kissed the Blarney Stone.

As many writers in my generation did, I started with long yellow legal and a pencil. Then got lucky and married a man who had a small portable typewriter he’d taken with him to Berkley. He wanted to be the writer but it turned out I was. He was never jealous, but egged me on and even bragged. Bill,  delusional, was content to know that if he couldn’t write, he was smart enough to marry a budding Dorothy Parker. That helped my ego.  As a young writer I hated rejection slips. Printed rejection slips. Nothing could be more demoralizing.

I’d learned to type, not a very good typist-I wasn’t born to be a secretary-and am a terrible speller. Once I had an editor say, “Bettejo, never write a word without a dictionary.” I also have a habit of making up words which is fun, entertaining, and creative, only nobody knows what you’re talking about. Dictionaries do come in handy. Especially if you can remember the first three letters.

But eccentricity? Well, I have an over abundant supply. I am a devout non conformist. If everybody else is going north, I’m quite content to go south. In high school I went through the bobby sock and loafer shoe trip but as soon as I grew up I developed my own distinctive style. It went over. Heck, guys, in Manila I was named one of Manila’s best dressed women. Often the clothes I wore I designed. Don’t know if the fits the eccentric bin, but I remember the times fondly.

On Kauai, that bit of eccentricity went over like a great white shark in a wading pool. So I played it to the hilt.

To talk about eccentricity on Kauai is pretty much like talking about eccentricity in America-we’re a perfect macrocosm-and I think it does not usually play well. Most Americans seem to think they’re eccentric when they’re dressed just like everyone else and their garb has a designer label on it.  Think many of my generation did not outgrow the bobby sock stage.

You know what I love to wear most? Raggedy ass sweaty sweats, pants and sweaters with holes, and cheap white canvas tennis shoes made in China and bought and paid for at Payless.

I’m a practicing eccentric. Some one I love very much asked me, “Are you happy being you?” My answer? A resounding ‘yes’. Your?

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