Register Saturday | September 22 | 2018

Jim Nolan, Writer of Light<sup>TM</usp>

From bright to dim, from early morning glow to faint, twinkling starlight

“I don’t believe, in time, that Picasso will be regarded as the titan he is now.”
            —Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light
A collector who with his wife purchased over 100 of Kinkade’s paintings in nine months, costing about $150,000: “I can look at one of his cottages and there’s some smoke coming out of the chimney and I’ll think, is there someone in there? Do they have hot chocolate?”
                        —from
60 Minutes   I have been describing light in all its various forms—from bright to dim, from early morning glow to faint, twinkling starlight—for many a year now, long enough, and well enough, to lay claim to the practice. It is time to ask my fellow writers to give it up or, to put it in more actionable terms, to cease and desist. I will not consider it a violation of my trademark if you use the word “light.” I could never deny you that, according to my attorney. But henceforth any scene that uses light in more than a passing way will be considered an infringement to be vigorously pursued. My trademark is small, but well described. It does not extend to other media, including painting, which has already been staked out by Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light™. While Mr. Kinkade’s trademark has had a devastating effect on painters worldwide—David Hockney is now working in the lumber industry—I do not expect my own trademark to have such far-reaching effect, as I am willing to franchise. However, lighthouse descriptions are now completely off-limits to other writers. And as for small English villages at Christmas time, lights beckoning all to snug seats by a roaring fire in a wood-beamed pub, well, even if you were Boswell describing some bon mot dropped there by Samuel Johnson, you’d soon be dipping into your 401(k) to pay legal bills. However, for a reasonable fee you can lease the following areas: THE VALLEY OF PEACE
Imagine your reader encountering descriptions of the most beautiful, restful place imaginable. No “vale of tears,” it’s a sun-streaked “vale of smiles,” if you so wish. EMERALD ISLE COTTAGE
When they’re not morose, no people are happier than the Irish. And who wouldn’t be, in this lovely vine-covered abode by the banks of the River Liffey. Is that candlelight shining through the windows at dusk? Up to you, my franchisee. LAMPLIGHT BRIDGE
There’s nothing worse than a dark bridge. It’s a hazard to one’s footing and one’s general confidence. Fortunately, this bridge is lit by lovely lamps, which you can bring to life for your audience with an almost unlimited number of adjectives. These beloved images and clichés are silent (unless read aloud) and enduring (hardback) messengers of hope, joy, and beauty, day-in and day-out. They will be well worth the dough, or “pecuniary emoluments”* you fork over to me. Already, many well-considered writers have signed up for their own “Little Piece of Light,” literary canvases upon which they can paint their readers a picture without fear of legal ramifications. A small sampling: Martin Amis, Blossom Lane.
Elmore Leonard, Candlelight Cottage.
Joan Didion, Chapels of Nature.
Don DeLillo, Beacon of Hope.
Salman Rushdie, Beauty of the Forest. Czeslaw Milosz writes, “Thanks, Jim, for so illuminating my work . . . how happy I am John Ashbery recommended you.” Thanks, Czeslaw. Your words give me encouragement, indeed. Working together as law-abiding writers and cautious, tort-wary editors, I believe it will be a rosy-fingered dawn for the entire industry, to borrow a phrase currently leased by Saul Bellow. I look forward to hearing from the rest of you. * phrase ™ W. Micawber, Inc.