There are only a few exceptions to this. I have been able to cash in heavily upon my knowledge of North China because the place appealed to me as the last word in savage, romantic lore. The last exception seems to be flying stories, though after flying a ship I can’t write an aviation story for a month.

      The final proof of this assertation came in connection with my Marine Corps stories. Most of my life I have been associated with the Corps one way or another in various parts of the world and I should know something about it.

      But I have given up in dark despair.

      “He Walked to War” in Adventure was branded as technically imperfect.

      “Don’t Rush Me” in Argosy, another marine story, elicited anguished howls of protest.

     And yet if there is any story in the world I should be qualified to write, it is a marine story.

     These are my woes. The reason for them is probably very plain to everyone. But I’ll state my answer anyway.

     A man cannot write a story unless he is deeply interested in it. If he thinks he knows a subject then he instantly becomes careless with his technical details.

     The only way I have found it possible to sidetrack these woes is by delving into new fields constantly, looking everywhere for one small fact which will lead me on into a story field I think I’ll like.

     This is not very good for a writer’s reputation, they tell me. A writer, it is claimed, must specialize to become outstanding. I labored trying to build up a converse reputation, hoping to be known as a writer of infinite versatility.

     I did not know until two years ago that the specializing writer is non persona grata with an editor. Jack Byrne, for instance, rebuilt Argosy with variety as a foundation. And once I heard Bloomfield sigh that he wished some of his top-notchers would stop sending him the same background week in and week out.

     Maybe I am right, possibly I am wrong.

     But I believe that the only way I can keep improving my work and my markets is by broadening my sphere of acquaintanceship with the world and its people and professions.



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