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Scarlet were the clothes she wore

Thursday 7/18/19

I am exhausted. I don't know non-exhaustion anymore. The apartment situation is exhausting, too. Living like this, seeing that this is the space in which one lives. Working harder each day to get out of the situation. Falling further back.

A quick entry. On the theme of red.

At night, I cannot sleep in silence. My brain needs to be moored to something, or else it will race too much. Even as it is, I will compose stories while I sleep. I go through cycles of what I will listen to, for this mooring. At times it has been episodes of The Inbetweeners, Cheers, Newhart. Lately it has been radio adaptations of Sherlock Holmes with Clive Merrison as Holmes. This series represents the only time that every episode has been adapted. I have them all on CD, though I have no idea where, scattered in various places, including under the earth in storage in Jamaica Plain. I will never see the things in that unit again unless I get my house back.

There are four Holmes novels and fifty-six stories. The fifty-six stories are an average each of 8000 words long. No short fiction is that long now. The journals that publish it want work to be especially short so the people in charge can jam in more of their cronies. And few writers now can hold your interest for twenty words, let alone 8000. Plus, page counts are getting shorter because even fewer people than ever are buying these journals. A copy of a "top" literary journal might sell thirty copies. Somebody needs to save reading and get people reading again. I believe I am that person. But I am not going into that now.

A Study in Scarlet was the first Holmes work. It came out in 1887. Conan Doyle wrote it in three weeks. I wrote Meatheads in one week. Writers who know what they are doing can go fast. The book did not fare well upon its release. It didn't have a lot of support. When it got support, Doyle's career exploded. That is how it always is. At the start of the novel, Holmes and Watson meet for the first time. Watson is in his early thirties. He has returned, as Holmes deduces, from the war in Afghanistan. Watson is suffering from depression. He is physically debilitated, with crippling bullet wounds in one of his legs and a shoulder.

When he is introduced to Holmes, he does not like him at all. He tries to figure out what Holmes does for work, but can't come up with an answer. Finally, he asks him. Holmes tells him, honestly. Holmes is only dishonest insofar as he leaves out much. But his honest answer causes Watson to think that he is arrogant. Watson is completely put off by his new roommate.

I think about things like this. What is Holmes supposed to do? Lie? He can't win either way. I experience this a lot. It's one reason I hate to talk about my work with people who don't know me or people I have just met. But, Watson soon sees Holmes' skills on display, and he becomes this mad fan. He's not depressed anymore. His physical pain goes from being a central concern to one he hardly notices. He is transformed. Because of this other man. And because of their friendship.

In another story, the two are sitting in their parlor, late at night, when there is a knock at the door. Watson asks Holmes if that is a friend of his, and Holmes says, again, honestly, that he has no friends, save Watson. John Watson really is Sherlock Holmes' only friend. When they first meet, in A Study in Scarlet, no one knows who Holmes is, and this bothers him. He has skills no one else has, but he is unknown. He is unknown until Watson becomes essentially his agent and publicist. Watson writes stories--averaging 8000 words in length--all about Holmes. He places those stories in a popular magazine. That is the only reason--because Watson wrote about him--that Holmes was known by anyone at all besides people like Inspector Lestrade. I think about this, too.

This is one of my favorite Beatles outtakes. It features the word scarlet. Lennon sings this rough rehearsal as I imagine he probably sang "Good Night," though no version of that song with Lennon's vocal exists. This performance is from 1965. The photo for this YouTube video is from 1962.

I was thinking about going to the Red Sox game today. It was a day game. On the same day of these getaway day games you can often find a cheap ticket for $10. But I wanted to finish my short story, "Fitty" (4700 words). I don't have fun going to anything. I don't have fun watching anything, listening to anything. I don't know fun anymore. I know fires burning me and knives going through me and fighting to make that go away and get somewhere better, get to something better. It's total. There's nothing else. But I still was thinking of going. I am not sure why. I guess it doesn't make sense. Maybe for my mental health? To not give in. I saw that Chris Sale got his first win at Fenway in something like 375 days, something I addressed on Downtown the other day.

Good night.


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