Let’s think that I was 38 or 39 years old, that’s pretty old, and I was surrounded by a lot of very wonderful men. Because the system had, in those days, decided that the fine men in this society would go and conduct this war, so I had men who had had positions of great importance in Wanamaker’s Department Store, Macy’s, and a wonderful guy from Tennessee who had been a troubleshooter for The Chattanooga Times, a New York Times subsidiary, and a great oil field geologist. I was small potatoes in my group, but there I was, and I had my own assets. Not as conspicuous as theirs, but still there. And I lived with these men, and I noticed that almost all the ones that I liked decided that they did not want to go back and do what they had done before; they wanted to be something else. Quite a few of them went into religion. They had been deeply moved by this. They had a spiritual awakening. Quite a few of them went into politics. They said, “I’m as bright as that clown.” Quite a few of them shifted business. Quite a few of them at that advanced age went back to college on the GI Bill. I was one of that group who said, “Now, wait. If you are ever going to change direction, let’s do it now.”
I did not change direction consciously. I didn’t say, “I’m going to be a writer.” All I knew was, that I was able to write better than a lot of the stuff I was reading, and I was going to take a shot at it. That it turned out the way it did was accidental — purely accidental. Not a matter of design at all. I had a great start. Everything hit me favorably at the beginning. It was five years before I had the courage to become a freelance with all that start because I knew what the facts were. I had been an editor myself, and I knew that people do not make a living writing books. They get enhancement in their other professions by writing books. Not many in my day ever made a living at it. And I never dreamed that I would — never thought of it. But it worked out. I think that the axial war, and the fact that I reacted the way I did — I consciously went in, meant that I was sort of a free agent in many aspects — made it fairly easy to say I want to do something bigger.