I Never Met Ruth Suffield

To the best of my knowledge there is no person I’ve ever met by the name of Ruth Suffield. I have no idea where the name came from. There was and is a person I wrote to who by no stretch of the imagination happens to be an extremely well thought of professional writer. I have chosen the name Ruth Suffield as her nom de plume; actually when she writes she does use her real name, and certainly not the pseudonym I’ve chosen for her. It’s just that Ruth is really a very private person who has a tendency to become annoyed easily when her privacy is invaded. Ruth tolerates me because I’ve known her since before she was able to get away with being an impertinent crab-ass. In other words… I knew her when she was a little crab-ass and couldn’t get away with anything resembling her current attitude. I value Ruth’s assessment of things as much as any other person in this world.


To: Ruth Suffield
From: da harv
Re: Carmen Belasco request for information regarding her creative writing pursuit.

(Ruth, please excuse the formality of this letter. Nowadays, one never knows who will come in contact with what we might pen.)

Dear Ms. Suffield,

I write to you as one professional to another. Certainly I recognize that the term professional is all in the eyes and ears of the beholder. I find it similar to the subjectivity of an art form of any kind. One person reads a book, or views a painting and can do nothing but gush accolades, while, on the other hand, the very next reader, or viewer of the same work offers that they have never come in contact with a more repressive load of shit. And so you have the tribulations of those of us who have chosen the pursuit of any creative art form as a way of life. I think you would agree, we must all acknowledge the subjectivity of the world we live in.

I have been in receipt of a request submitted to me by one of my many fans, Carmen Belasco, asking if I might take the time to answer some questions regarding her endeavors in the search for an answer to a series of questions first posed to a struggler named William Shakespeare. It appears that our Ms. Belasco finds herself in a similar state of mind that I too experienced many years ago. Her quandary, as you might expect: Who, what, why, when, where, and of course, how, are the total ingredients of her not-yet-all-consuming-conundrum.

I know you must have a few vital inquires of your own, before attempting to answer her five basic questions. Since that would be impossibility, I thought I might offer some of what I have to say to her, or any other individual seeking answers regarding the subjective world in which we exist.

1. When did you begin writing with the intent of becoming a published author?

Answer: I began at age thirty-five.

2. Had you taken writing classes at that time to get focused again, or was writing something you always did throughout your life?

Answer: I was born with an appreciation for everything and anything creative.

I have never taken a writing class.

I have written or expressed my honest emotions for the better part of the last thirty years+.

Spare time has little or nothing to do with my spare time as a writer. (I began making presentations to other students in the second grade. Most of the material that I used in those formal presentments were written by me.)

3. Why did you think your writing was good enough to be published? Did you just start writing about things that interested you and then asked members of your family to give you their feedback?

Answer: Stories that I would relate to friends about my past experiences would often draw laughter and tears, and surprisingly to me, complete attention from those listening to what I had to say.

I began having an idea or two for a TV show. I joined forces with another young guy and between the two of us began knocking out a few treatments for television shows. At the time I was already in the industry as a Stage Manager in a variety of shows around town.

The only relative that had anything to say about my work was my then wife, who also functioned as a rewrite person for me.

I really never gave much thought to how good my writing actually was.

4. How do you know if it’s just the “idea” of writing that makes you think you can write, or if you really can write?

Answer: I write for myself. I don’t expect people to either like or understand where da harv is coming from. In my opinion, the only reason a person may determine if what they write will ever be able to support their lifestyle, is if they are content with their own work.

Each and every day some of my lines are put to paper, and stored away in the deep dark environs of a hard drive, that may some day be either celebrated or serve to corroborate my off-balanced disdain for the average person. I might point out that the average person has served as a welcome target for the spewing of ridicule that so richly enhances my life.

5. (And what follows is Ms. Belasco’s most ardent series of run-on questions, each requiring a degree of supposition, making an answer or even an educated opinion, more arduous a task than my personal sagacity could do justice.) If you get to the point that you want to dedicate time to writing, how do you know if you would be a good freelance writer for a magazine/local newspaper, or a three liner sentimental greeting card writer, an author of a children’s book? (I know I can clearly define things things that I am not interested in writing; like a novel for example, but what are the tools that you use to define yourself, or is that not even something you worry about in the early stages of writing?)

Answer: (At first I prayed for guidance. Then a calm came over me as I realized that I wasn’t God, and that my answers to her questions weren’t required to be God-like. All I could do was honestly recall and forward some of my experiences, in hope that Ms. Belasco might find solace and meaning within da harv’s literary trials.)

Magazines/local newspapers/three line sentimental greeting cards, or the author of a children’s book. How do you know?

You know your work is acceptable (good) after you continuously submit your work to these venues, seeking acceptance.

I could fill drawers with turndowns from all of the above. I would write an unsolicited piece, send it out and continue to write not waiting for any one company to send back anything resembling their appreciation. All I did was write and send; over and over, write and send. I became accustomed to opening the mail being well prepared for the rejection notice that I knew would be there. One day, to my surprise, the full size envelope containing my writing also contained an offer. I had written a celebrity interview with an actor named Mike Connors. They (the editor of the newspaper) required that I rewrite the article with a third party removed format as opposed to first person singular. That same afternoon I completed the rewrite and hand-carried my work to the newspaper office (I really wanted to frame the papers $125 check, but we needed it to eat).

The lines that I wrote for a local greeting card company were as risqué as my mind could create; still a payday.

At this stage of the game my writing has included radio copy as well as a few eulogies. I have written lines for stand-up comics and have registered the lyrics for six songs. I have written letters of complaint, letters of congratulations, and letters of sympathy. And after all this, I have only single certainty to offer Ms. Belasco. This time it isn’t da harv as the scribe. “To thine own self be true,” must be credited to another author of substance. But that phrase all by itself is the most important verbiage I’ve ever become a believer in.

What I have to share with people, succinctly stated is the most important commodity in my possession: It is my truth. Each and every line I write, or say, or give in the way of my direction to people represents da harv’s truth. While some may not appreciate my truth, and may even vehemently disagree with what I’ve brought forward, they nevertheless, in the long run, find something within my attempt at communication.

Place honest words on paper, and then send the paper away from you. Your honest words will ultimately stimulate love in the form of approval. Never put a price on your work as the criteria for determining your skills as a writer. Never, ever, value the input of any person who tells you that you have little or no writing skills. Be a journeyman writer. That is to say… write with your mind and heart simultaneously without thinking which of these two beautiful God-given reservoirs you’re drawing your creativity from. If it’s your thought, then at that moment in time you have equaled and achieved the single most important substantive purpose that any of us have in this lifetime. Bequeath that thought, send it out there in whatever form you so desire. This truthfully will be the determining factor as a guide to what you will continue to write.


And in closing, I’d like to thank you, Ms. Suffield, for taking your time. I look forward to your response. I value the thoughts of any successful person, especially a person who has been a participant in so many of our wonderful life experiences.

Cordially, and with a degree of growing respect, I remain yours truly,

Harvey Kalmenson
AKA: da harv


Letter from Ruth:

Dear da harv,

Please offer these words to Ms. Belasco:

Stop asking so many questions. What was right for me or for Mr. Misplaced is not necessarily the correct thing or method she should pursue. Tell her to do what I did; take up drinking. Single malt scotch, if she can afford it would be the best advice I might offer. Make sure she doesn’t do something stupid like getting married. No matter how stupid the topic might appear to be, write about it. Save everything you write. Never throw anything away. Just store the shit in a box and every so often come back to it. If and when you come back to the shit you’ve written and you find it to be still a good read; take it from me, you haven’t grown one bit. If you fall in love with your own work, you’re not taking enough chances with the subject matter. When I stopped getting people all riled up, I simultaneously lost favor with the same people who were in love with my work to begin with.

If my words of advice are help, then fine and so be it. If my words don’t mean anything to Belasco, I really don’t care that much anyway.

Stay well,

You know who

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