Received a note from a woman at five of six this AM in which she said she thought she was in love with me. She was one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen. Spoke to her a bit.
I worked more this morning on one of the new stories, which is called "The Giant Seahorse." I didn't know what I had. Let me be clear. When I do what I do, I will have something matchless. I know that. In being fully present, and using my full abilities, the result is going to be something special. But I might not know what that is as I've just done it. I am in the experience, and that is everything. Some time might pass. A few days. A week. A year. More. Less. I return for what is next and necessary. Sometimes, that's nothing, save to confirm that what is there is as it should be. Often I will have an experience as though I am someone else, having come to this work for the first time. I am the reader. My eyes are my eyes, but it's as if they're also the eyes of another. As I write, and as I read what I write, I am aware of everything I've ever thought, understood, or known about writing. I'm aware of everything of any use that has ever been remarked to me. There's someone I've been friends with for a quarter of a century, who is now a university provost. I will recall a line they said to me about writing regarding something I'd written twenty years ago, that they themselves did not remember four days after. I will, if it's useful, apply that line to what I've written. I'll apply it in the sense that I hold it up as if it were an item in a list and I am doing a check-off. Which is to say, even when it's not applicable--because really I have everything pretty much covered at this point in my evolution--I am still cognizant of it. There's use that way, in the very awareness, in the conjuring of the old line, the insight, the advice, the observation. You're looking at something you now automatically check off in real time in the very making of your art.
"The Giant Seahorse" is 980 words long--another for Longer on the Inside. Or something else. Longer volume two, or volume three. There are just so many great stories under that umbrella, and they can't all go in that book--or first book. It is one of my personal favorite stories. I was overwhelmed as I read it back today, making a few changes for power and downward flow, and to create deeper pockets of meaning by what was snipped out. There are scarcely any greater forces in art than the power of implication: when the reader fills something in--and you make it so that they will, and it's not beyond them; it's what is naturally going to happen--as if they are working in tandem with a story that they become caught up in themselves, you are creating work that can always last.
This empowers the reader, too. It makes them active and important. They don't think, "Hey! I'm special!" but they feel it. They feel a kind of centrality. They're in on what is happening and they're a part of it. What is happening is significant. The meanings are true and unflinching, and the implications--for all of us--are grand, because they are our deepest, truest selves via narrative proxy, but it's more like the story is another version of our body, mind, soul. The story is our representative. It's our senator in the human drama. We are alongside, and we have say, because of that filling in. To give the reader what I'm talking about here takes something beyond genius, in terms of ability; but it also takes great affection and selflessness. In its concentrated, poetic, touching power, the story reminds me somewhat of "Jacks," which closes Cheer Pack. It doesn't read like "Jacks," but it impacts in a similar way, let us say.
It's about a young girl and an old man, and they live in what used to be a fishing shack. And that's it. That's not it it. But we learn about their routines, and we learn about what they do for each other. He tells her this story about when he was younger and working on a crabber, and something that was pulled up. He says it was like a mermaid. She's unsure about this. He clarifies. He says it was more like a giant seahorse. They go down to the beach in the mornings to see what's washed up. It's not a private beach technically, but they live some distance out from the proper town, so it's like it's their own backyard beach. One morning, there's a whale carcass, rotted open on the bottom, and they can see the eels in its stomach. And it becomes this big thing. Same as the water and coffee she brings him when they're inside, filling up the glass and the mug too high. There's a reason for it, though. And that becomes a kind of story. And it's about her understanding. Which we see. Her form of understanding. How that also factors into this unique relationship. He's not her dad, but she calls him dad. The homework he helps her with is also important. A special story. I'll work on it some more.
Here is last night's segment on Downtown, with Pratt filling in for Kimball. It's a discussion of If You [ ]: Fabula, Fantasy, F**kery, Hope, the state of the publishing industry, and what I do. [Edit: I misspoke in the segment and said that the two prefaces I wrote the other day were for one of the essay collections and There Is No Doubt, when the latter was written some time back and I meant Longer on the Inside. My bad.]
This is a pitch from just now:
Quick thought: Paul McCartney's 80th birthday is Saturday. What about a piece for the day on the coolest McCartney song that not a lot of people know, including Beatles people? Macca's ultimate hell raiser! That would be "I'm Down," which got tucked away as a B-side in 1965. It's the Beatles doing heavy metal before metal existed. Crazy performance. They closed their big Shea Stadium gig with an unhinged version of it. People always think McCartney is the love songs guy, the melody dude, but this is blistering lunacy. He channeled Little Richard like nobody else, and we can actually see a progression to this original composition via a series of early covers on BBC radio. There's a funny alternate version, too, where they're breaking stuff in the studio. This song gets no love, and it's like the most hidden away Beatles song, with the exception of maybe Harrison's "Love You To." McCartney screams his head off on it, and that inspires Harrison to play this shredder of a guitar solo. Also notable: famous coda of "Hey Jude" can be traced back directly to this song.