Good Luck

I don’t come here often. Hardly ever. Writing here pays zilch, and I’m averse to spelunking my own butthole for free. But it seems like the right place to say a few words about leaving Esquire magazine.

I’m leaving Esquire magazine. I’m old, and I’m working on a sequel to The Whore of Akron, and there’s other stuff I want to do, too. If you get to a certain age — I’ll be 64 if I make it to August —  the math starts doing itself. (I think I’ve written that exact phrase before, in Esquire — strong evidence that the magazine could use a break from me.) It was time to go, and so the May issue, a split run with either Bill Murray or George Clooney on the cover, is my last as a Writer at Large.

For those playing inside baseball, the May issue is also David Granger’s last as Esquire‘s editor in chief.  I started writing for Granger in 1992, at GQ, and joined him at Esquire in 1997, when he was hired to run it. I’ve had a dream job for almost 25 years. A ridiculously great job. I mean, seriously: My last Esquire Q&A was a four-hour lunch with Granger and Bill Murray at an Albanian steakhouse in the city. I got paid for that.

A word about Bill Murray: I can’t help connect you with Bill Murray. I don’t have his secret number. I don’t think he e-mails. I’ve known Bill since 1998, and he’s something like what I’d imagine an angel to be. He…appears. I bring this up because whenever Esquire does anything with him, I get sincere, impassioned,  detailed asks from folks who need to get in touch with him. I’ve gotten a few already this time around, and I can’t help. If it’s any consolation, Jon Favreau wanted to put him in the first Iron Man, and he couldn’t reach Bill, either, and had to settle for Jeff Bridges.

A word about luck: Timing is god. I was almost 40 years old when I met Granger. I was selling columns to an alternative weekly in Philly for $40 each, I was selling my sperm and white blood cells, too. And working on a novel, of course. I’m a firm believer in hard work, facing fear and failure, and enduring apparently endless self-doubt and -loathing — all of that stuff seems inseparable from writing as a process. But I’m not stupid or silly enough to think that my magazine-writing career is a tribute to any of that, much less to any innate gifts and talents. The longer I stuck around, and the tougher the print business got for thousands and thousands of talented, hard-working writers, the more plainly I saw how fucking lucky I have been.

That’s the trick. That’s the secret. Keep swinging hard. You might get lucky and hit something.