“What do you do all day in that shed out back” his mother asked one night while they ate dinner in front of the TV. “Write” he answered. “Write what” she asked in that way that means he’d better not say I don’t know. “I don’t know” he said.

“Goddammit Paul” his mother said. “You’re wasting your life out in that shed. You need to go out and get—” “I chop down trees too” he said. “I make furniture out of them.” His mother’s face did a Hitchcock zoom as she considered this new information. “Is it any good” she asked, eyes narrowed.

“It’s getting there” he answered. “I’m getting better every day.” “When is it going to be there” she asked. “When are you going to sell this furniture of yours?” “It’ll be a while” he answered.

“Then you’d better get a job until then” she said.