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GETTING INTO SIX FIGURES
By Arnold Patrick
IV: PETER B. KYNE
MONG many other books, Peter ner. He loves to tell or to write a
B. Kyne is the author of “The story, and he dramatizes life, his friends, Go-Getter", a short story which has himself, in a manner authentically and been used by organizations both charmingly Celtic. business and social across the country “When an editor buys a story from as a gospel of salesmanship and success. me for a good price, he expects it to If Mr. Kyne occasionally becomes help his circulation. If I give him a bored or amused by being considered product which is some abstruse expresthe fountainhead of wisdom in matters sion of myself, and not a good story or a of personal efficiency, if he is staggered serial with as much pull as I can give it, when he finds himself the patron saint I'm not an honest business man. If a of “Go-Getter" Clubs and aspiring stocking manufacturer sells an inferior young clerks, he has only his personal- product, he is soon called to account. ity to blame. He is that individual, Why should it be different with writnot so rare in the United States, a suc- ers? The construction of a serial is cessful Irish-American. He takes his definitely a technical job. It must be own abilities and those of his country- planned so as to give the editor a long men seriously up to a certain point, first instalment, several shorter ones for then he is saved from Dr. Frank the middle part, and a fairly lengthy Cranism by his ready and virile humor. final section. Each of these must have These two qualities - a worship of suc- its punch, and its holdover quality, or it cess and an ability to laugh — brought will not bring circulation to a magazine. to bear upon American life, backed up I'd rather destroy twenty five thousand by experience as soldier, lumber sales- words of a story than fail an editor on a man, storekeeper, traveler, make his first instalment. That faith to him, stories important to the masses. Nor and through him to the public, seems does he overlook the importance of the more important to me than all this talk masses to him. The creator of Cappy about art. What's a definition of art, Ricks, the author of “The Enchanted anyway? Here's one definition Hill", "The Pride of Palomar", And Mr. Kyne settled back to tell a “Never the Twain Shall Meet”, be- story. It seems that a friend of his lieves in his public and the debt he owes youth, a small-town tradesman who it. He is self educated for the most had allowed himself to take on the part, and he believes in self education. marks of success at the waistband, one He has given this public of his what it day encountered the author on the desires and he intends to go on doing so. street. He had just come from seeing I have seldom encountered a writer so a film version of one of the Kyne roarticulate in analyzing his own methods mances. His eyes were brimming with as this grey eyed, romantic yarn spin- tears. “It's great, Peter, great! I
congratulate you. It's art, Peter, fully; and the worthy gentleman, conart!” (“Well, it wasn't, you know", tent after a comforting meal, listened to Mr. Kyne confided. “They had made a score of childish flights. When Peter the most awful sentimental bunk out of had finished reading he called him forit, all sob stuff.")
ward solemnly. "Peter," he said, “Come now", said Mr. Kyne to the “whatever else you may do in life, if melted but content representative of you become a writer, you'll be successthe bourgeoisie. “What do you know ful!” about art?”
“Strange”, said Mr. Kyne, "what a “I know all about art, Peter”, was small thing will turn a boy's head in a the reply, as with a stout finger the gen- given direction. The man was probatleman indicated the central portion of bly no prophet; but he was the fire that his abdomen. “When a thing gets me lit the tinder.' here, Peter, it's art."
Farm life was dull for a young man “If he'd been a little more highbrow who had visions of adventure and literhe'd have gestured to his heart - but ary prowess. Peter Kyne turned his he wasn't far from right”, said Peter B. efforts to business, and finally became Kyne.
clerk in the modest country store, Like most other members of the “six where he worked for twenty dollars a figure" group of writers, Mr. Kyne did month from 6 A. M. to 8 P. M. Here not spring full armored into fiction, but came the ladies to buy and their hushad stirrings of imaginative impulses as bands to buy, and both to chat. Hera lad. He was born in California in were whispered or shouted all the scane 1880, of farmer stock, with the chores dals of the community, and to Peter and the delights of a farmer's boy. In came the wily proprietor of the local the small country school taught by his newspaper with a request for news. cousin, now principal of a large school This was the aspiring writer's golden on the west coast, spelling was more im- opportunity. He seized it, and for no portant than in these days of advanced remuneration sent in notes which soon education; spelling bees were still in grew into a column. However, the afvogue. But the exercise which ap- fairs of a small community rapidly lost pealed most to young Peter was the us- novelty for a vivid Celtic imagination. ing of all the spelling words of the week War was declared on Spain, and Peter, to form a "composition" on Fridays. lying about his age, entered the army at Peter, one week, had asked if he might seventeen. write his in the form of a story, and had “It wasn't a question of patriotism”, received an affirmative reply. He Mr. Kyne explained. “I wasn't foolgave his imagination full sweep. It ish enough to think that we couldn't chanced that the visiting member of lick Spain without my personal assistthe county school board arrived. ance. It was simply an escape. Would he stay to hear the compositions However, he admits that his soldierread? He would. Small Peter was ing as a captain of artillery during the filled with anticipatory thrills. He late war had nobler motivation. was sent home on horseback for that “The proprietor of the paper had was how the farmer boys went to school asked me to write him, so I did. He in those days — to fetch a hot dinner published it with the line, ‘From our for the educational dignitary. This he Special Correspondent'. He also went carried back precariously but success- to my family and secured from them