Because there are some of you who just can’t get enough of me.
Last summer, I went to my local library and picked up a copy of Jane Erye. It was navy blue, full cloth, published by Modern Library in 1951. The title and author were printed in faded gold leaf and the endpaper was patterned with handsome light grey, that famous insignia of the dancer flitting by with a torch in hand. I loved looking at that lithe figure, animated by the light of inspiration.
Every time I sat down to read it in my favorite chair, I smelled it first: dusty ink, that mineral acid and wood fragrance. And Jane would reappear, her sharp cuffs and imperious chin. I just don’t know if Jane Eyre would have been the same without the birchy, nutty heaviness of that excellent old library copy.
Everyone laughs at emojis. They are a frivolity, a collection of accents that soften and simplify our sentiments. I sometimes look at them and think: in a few years, this could be how we write. We have stopped teaching our kids cursive. We don’t even teach them to type. There is speculation that our children will voice command, tap and swipe their way through all their communication. Studies indicate that their brains won’t develop the same way, that writing with our hands and spelling things out expands the thoughts themselves, expands the brain’s ability to conceive.
As someone who writes for a living, I wonder if I should just get Dragon and teach myself how to “write” with speech, just getting the jump on where the whole thing is obviously headed. And as someone who worked in bookstores for a good part of my life, I cannot help but mourn the fading industry that saw each individual book as a crafted thing, a signifier of civilization, a torch.
There is tremendous waste in traditional publishing that trumps sentimentality. More pragmatic minds have pointed out the insanity of cutting down a producer of oxygen in order to grind it down and make a book out of it, and they would be right. The sands of storytelling are shifting. Putting a story on paper seems almost indulgent now. Quixotic.
Storytelling will always live as long as humans do; it’s how we make sense of the world and organize the chaos in a way that hopefully keeps us sane. But there is a sense too, that the medium is evaporating, becoming “paperless”. It is a story in and of itself, and not without its own little tragedy. I always sign my name with the tilde because I think of that gesture, the dancer, like language, in motion, already becoming something else.
#literature #selfpublishing #writing #printedbooks
Yes, its happening. The shorts I have been toiling at for years are finally done and up on Kindle. Please fork over the 3 dollars (of which I get 70%) and engross yourself in my slightly creepy, scary, hopefully funny imagination. If you are a reader of fiction or maybe you are just my friend, download this collection of short stories onto your device and tell me what you think. And you can even “lend” it for free to one person, so if you like it, let your literary friends know.
I titled these stories the Brunt because they all thematically collect around the wonderful or awful moment when the rubber meets the road, the point of no-control that life regularly hands us. I am interested in how this moment brings out the best and the worst in us, how it changes us.
While I’m here, I’d like to give props to Jeremy Gilmer for coaxing my erratic ego through this process, Beth Wenbourne Katz for her ninja marketing and editing skills, my Mom, Lynne Culp for being a stringent reader and asker of questions, as well as Mona Nahm, Josh Noble, Dean Ellis, Bridget Kolakosky, Stacy Greengard Luget, and Julia Beckner for the fabulously eerie cover. You all rock.
Here is where you go to buy the Brunt:
Thanks for reading. And make more art!
Paul Valery said, “Poetry is never finished, only abandoned.” And I think I can say the same for my short stories. I am about to self-publish my first work of fiction. Some of these shorts have been in the can for years, others of them fell out of me recently.
Despite my many years of art-making (music, acting, photography) the process is still incredibly chaotic; it means regular visits to the existential equivalent of the sub-abyssal zone and the Himalayan summit of Meaning, sometimes in a single day.
Publishing a collection of stories is not unlike sitting around a table with your family during the holidays. You like some of them more than others but you are supposed to act like you adore them all equally. The ones you get along with the least demand the most attention from you. They all talk at once. And some of them, the more you visit, the more you like them and the deeper your relationship grows.
i am thrilled, exhausted, grateful, relieved and a little sad to be finished. I am genuinely surprised with how my process has developed, regardless of the final product. I am also so, so grateful to my friends and fellow writers who have generously taken the time to give me feedback.
A friend of mine, Mr Bennett Ralston, said to me, “what you are doing is difficult and lonely, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.” Well, I’m doing it. Here you go, world.