Another day of largely sitting at the desk--the third such day in a row. I did get out for a quick three mile walk, but I worked in my head the entire time. Good work today on "Green Glass Door." Picked up work for a feature due on Monday. There's actually quite a lot due on Monday. This weekend is going to be all about doing various nonfiction pieces, walking, running stairs, screening films, proofing a book, reading, and hopefully tending to these short stories.
I came up with a new story today, which I am still figuring out in my head. I think this could be one of those works I refer to as the major ones--not a distinction in quality, but I went through all of that before, so far as definitions and what not. Here is a piece that came out today in JazzTimes on Ella Fitzgerald. Good. Not very long. Tight. Multiple op-ed pitches went out. Haven't heard back on two of them, though I expect I will. I think I'm going to be writing one on "The Star-Spangled Banner" and Hendrix, but that's not until mid-September. Really need to do a bunch before then, for the coffers. Also, for book sales. Other op-ed was responded to, guy couldn't do it right now, said to hit him with the next one. These are regular venues for me, not new ones. Tuesday on Downtown I'll be talking about the 200 short stories I wrote in the last two years, and these nearly 700 blog entries, and what, when you add in the formal nonfiction work, constitutes about thirty books' worth of material. Obviously we're not talking about every piece, but I would imagine some of the new stories will come up.
Letter of support, by the by:
"She is an idiot but as you know better than I do such douche bags have been privileged. Virtually no one my age, unless already having major commercial successes, has any hope in this publishing climate, but what we face pales before the walls that are erected in front of you. I cannot begin to approach the daunting challenges you battle everyday. No one I am aware of is writing better short fiction than you and no one at such an astonishing pace. I can only hope that this will change soon—and if you need 'editing' she needs a lobotomy."
What I hope such a person believes is that I can knock down those walls--and before too long. I don't want to be the only one who believes in me. Or believes in my outcome.
Hockey Hall of Fame announcement was the other day. I am always happy for people who get into sports Hall of Fames. I never get angry. People get weirdly angry about this. Like when Harold Baines made the baseball Hall of Fame. I look at it this way--everyone knows who was better. Sports are not some huge, super serious deal. If a player goes into the Hall of Fame, it makes it more fun, maybe, to peruse their stats later, watch them in some old game on DVD or YouTube. Having said that, in no way is Kevin Lowe a Hall of Fame hockey player, but he made it anyway. Doug Wilson deserved to get in. Lowe was better than average, but even Ryan Suter is a much better player than Lowe. Does he make it? I don't know. Maybe. The big omissions were Vladimir Krutov and Tom Barrasso. I wrote a piece for Sports Illustrated a few years back about why Barrasso should be in, and Krutov was probably one of the top half dozen players in the world in the 1980s.
Anyway. That's not what is important right now. What is is my focus. I'm alone, I don't have people I can talk to, it's hard not knowing if anyone believes in my outcome--the outcome I seek--and that is frightening. One can't underestimate what a factor that is. I need this to change soon. I don't have twenty more years of this in me. I don't have ten. I don't think I have five. Or three. The walls erected in front of me comment didn't feel great. I want to know that some people expect me to get this done, even if no one else could, and get it done in the near future. And then build and build and build, after the walls are down.
Here's the mock-up, incidentally, for the cover of the Dzanc story collection, If You [ ]: Fantasy, Fabula, Fuckery, Hope. There might be some changes. I have one question to ask. The idea was mine. I described it in detail, but I did not expect the artist to nail the design off of my description, and on a first pass no less. The technical term is trompe-l'œil. I don't want to be didactic. But I think probably most people don't know that term. Essentially, it's art that looks almost identical to what is usually a still life scene. You see it in a lot of Dutch painting in the seventeenth century, with a table scene. No people. But a bowl of fruits, a pheasant, some fish on a plate. Fish are quite hard to paint. It's the light off the scales. So the book starts with a story called "If You [ ]", which is a story that takes the form of a grocery list, with some notes-to-self written in, and scraps of a lines for a letter that one may or may not send. As Picasso would say, the cover rhymes with the first story. I think the artist did a hell of a job. I was pretty specific in the comments, but for instance, I suggested a mug with an anchor on it, and I like this better--the anchor doodle. You don't have to know any of this--pick up on it, I mean--but the little doodles rhyme with the subtitle. You see the little stick figure with the dynamite--fuckery. The anchor is the symbol of hope. Now, no one needs to know that, it's just a doodle. People doodle what they doodle. But the meaning goes pretty deep through everything, through many levels. Meatheads needs to come out, and soon. I'm not hearing back from the publisher, for some reason. I have an op-ed I think I can about humor and fiction and why we see so little humor in fiction right now and what it can do, but I don't want to pitch it until I have a better idea, availability-wise. I think this guy did a great job. I need to find out who he is exactly and thank him.
Keep it together. You can get there. No one else could, no one could bring off what you are trying to bring off, but you can get there. The world, as the Roses said, may not be waiting for it, but the world needs it. And I think a sizable quantity of it would embrace it. The numbers would be there, in terms of the requisite embrace--others can hate, or debate, and that's fine, because I think you'd have what you need in the passionate embrace camp.
Sometimes I feel I have barely started. Not in terms of getting to where I am going--Jesus, I hope those walls are far along in the process of toppling--but insofar as my life, and my work, what I can do, the tally of the body of work.
Also, fuck me, I want to do Musings with Franklin.