The Three Hats

On a shelf in the little room where I write, there are three hats.


The first one is a black beret. If you could see me walking through the neighborhood wearing my beret and carrying my sketchbook, with my beard and my sunglasses and my sandals, you would say to yourself, “Now, there goes an artist if ever there was one.” “And a right stylish artist at that,” some might say. I hope someone might say that.


The second hat is a sun-faded, well-loved, and well-worn New York Yankees baseball cap, my gamer from the last year the Yankees won the World Series. Gamer is the proper name for the new hat you buy at the beginning of the season. You wear it the first time you watch your team play in the new season, or the first time you listen to the team’s game on the radio, and always when you are going to bump into a Red Sox fan and you want to make a point.


The third hat is a brown fedora. When worn at the correct rakish, Indiana Jones angle, it makes a writer feel like a million bucks. The fedora suggests that I, the man underneath, am a man to be reckoned with, a man of action and decisiveness and clarity. [I revised the previous sentence, because the proofreader pointed out a grammatical problem with the original. Ok?] A man who can make the tough calls and will do so gladly.


One of the tricks to making a book is to know which hat you are wearing while you are working on the different tasks required to make your book come to life.


– Robert Benson “Dancing on the Head of a Pen”