Everyone has a Roger Ebert story today. Here’s mine.
In 2002 I decided to start a web magazine called Professor Barnhardt’s Journal. It’s more of a blog now, but when it launched 11 years ago it was more of a magazine, with guest writers and longer pieces and theme issues. I wanted the first issue to not only be a theme issue (“Why I Write”), I wanted to get some big names to draw some attention to the mag. I didn’t know if I would succeed or not – I couldn’t pay anyone and it was the first issue of the mag so there was a good chance nobody would even know who I was or what this new publication was all about – but I sent out some e-mails to some well-known writers.
Roger was the first one to respond, and he jumped into it enthusiastically. It showed he not only got what I wanted to do, he wanted to pass on some words of wisdom about the writing life that others could learn from. His words will ring true to anyone who writes for a living (and a life).
Another reason I liked him: he knew who this “Professor Barnhardt” was before I even put the picture at the top of the mag to give everyone a hint. He sent me an e-mail with the words “Sam Jaffe!” The guy knew and loved movies to his core.
Here’s the piece he wrote for the first issue of PBJ (he wrote another piece for the mag a couple of years later). Also read his last journal entry. His last words are stunning in their perfection.
Have a good weekend.