Morning Pages Done! Now Comes Marketing

Super successful morning pages. The rest of the day will go very well indeed.

Today I will begin the task I have been avoiding the most: soliciting venues for readings for my book, which comes out November 1. I suppose I am avoiding the possibility (the likelihood?) of hearing No for an answer. I need to deal with it. Besides, even a No can begin a relationship (eg, No, we can’t host a reading, but yes we will stock the book).

One of my absolute faves, the stories of Paul Bowles. Maybe I don’t get around much, but in my fifty years I have only met three other people, ever, who had any familiarity with them (Martha Geis in 2004, Tony Doerr in 2008, and a woman I met through a personal ad circa 1995, not that I was trolling for a fan, it just came up). This collection is from the now defunct Black Sparrow Press, in a letterpress volume, where the very feel of the type on the thick paper, even the odor, was integral to experiencing the stories (take that, Kindle!). I also have an auditory association; one night, in 1990, I left my radio on as I fell asleep, and I was awakened in the middle of the night by a BBC broadcast of Paul Bowles reading his stories aloud in his ancient crackle. It felt like a kind of call, and from that moment on, whenever I read these stories, I hear that voice.
It is not a spoiler alert to tell you that every story involves a journey. Go with it.

One of my absolute faves, the stories of Paul Bowles. Maybe I don’t get around much, but in my fifty years I have only met three other people, ever, who had any familiarity with them (Martha Geis in 2004, Tony Doerr in 2008, and a woman I met through a personal ad circa 1995, not that I was trolling for a fan, it just came up). This collection is from the now defunct Black Sparrow Press, in a letterpress volume, where the very feel of the type on the thick paper, even the odor, was integral to experiencing the stories (take that, Kindle!). I also have an auditory association; one night, in 1990, I left my radio on as I fell asleep, and I was awakened in the middle of the night by a BBC broadcast of Paul Bowles reading his stories aloud in his ancient crackle. It felt like a kind of call, and from that moment on, whenever I read these stories, I hear that voice.

It is not a spoiler alert to tell you that every story involves a journey. Go with it.

nprbooks:

Beach libraries. (Enough said.)

Brilliant! But why is the old lady scowling at those girls? Because they have better hair than she? Because they’re reading manga (the covers being backward) and she disapproves? Someone give her a book! I clearly see Memoirs of a Geisha up on the top shelf. It’s next to King of Torts.

Paper Rejection Slips (Remember Those?)

2014 has been a dry year. In 2013, I had eight stories placed in magazines, but this year, nothing. Weeding an old file, I found the following rejection slips, which I share with you now before recycling them. They are from another era, and maybe it was a better era, but I’ll take encouragement where I can find it. Onward.

"Thank you for showing your manuscript to the Paris Review. We are interested in your work and would like to see more of it." -The Editors

"What an interesting story. I really enjoyed reading it, and I would love to read more from you in the future. Keep writing!" -EC (The Missouri Review)

"seriously considered … keep them coming" -Robert Clark (Alaska Quarterly Review)

"Great story; it came close. Please send us more of your work." -Beth (Hayden’s Ferry Review)

[in the neatest, tiniest handwriting ever] “We enjoyed your story and hope to see more of your work.” -unsigned (Zoetrope)

Found at a used bookstore: a 1963 translation of selected Babel stories, including Red Cavalry ones and Odessa ones. In a prior post (http://evan-morgan-williams.tumblr.com/post/87595349428/two-years-ago-this-christmas-present-the-isaac) I expressed my frustration with the Constantine translation of Babel, but this obscure old pulpy volume just might do the trick. Babel was never meant to be read pretty.

The translator is Andrew McAndrew.

Did you know that Denis Johnson was trying to channel Babel when writing Jesus’ Son? 

Now I just need to find time to read it. Maybe if I stop posting on Tumblr!

Found at a used bookstore: a 1963 translation of selected Babel stories, including Red Cavalry ones and Odessa ones. In a prior post (http://evan-morgan-williams.tumblr.com/post/87595349428/two-years-ago-this-christmas-present-the-isaac) I expressed my frustration with the Constantine translation of Babel, but this obscure old pulpy volume just might do the trick. Babel was never meant to be read pretty.

The translator is Andrew McAndrew.

Did you know that Denis Johnson was trying to channel Babel when writing Jesus’ Son?

Now I just need to find time to read it. Maybe if I stop posting on Tumblr!

I’m in Palio Cafe in Portland’s elder-turned-hipster neighborhood of Ladd’s Addition. Mission-style library tables. Straight-backed chairs. No talking. Everyone is writing except the woman doing integral calculus, and I say that takes as much of an imaginative leap as poetry or story. Most importantly, this cafe is a church of pie.

I’m in Palio Cafe in Portland’s elder-turned-hipster neighborhood of Ladd’s Addition. Mission-style library tables. Straight-backed chairs. No talking. Everyone is writing except the woman doing integral calculus, and I say that takes as much of an imaginative leap as poetry or story. Most importantly, this cafe is a church of pie.

Cut-Up Project

As stated in prior posts, I am working on a cut-up or collage of my great-grandmother’s novel, Dandelion Cottage. I have it broken down into individual sentences, about three thousand of them. Soon the re-assemblage can begin. But this allegedly experimental technique has in fact become a study in formalism, as I have extensively annotated the work, granularizing the author’s style. Example: an obsession with hygiene. Another: the liberal use of Homeric epithet. One could become so thorough in this formal analysis that one re-assembles the novel exactly as it had been written the first time. Borges wrote a story about that: Pierre Menard, author of the Quixote.

From Wikipedia (an Occasional Series)

This is from the entry about Darryl Dawkins, a legendary NBA player of the late 1970’s:

In a game against the Kansas City Kings in November 1979, Dawkins threw down such a massive dunk that the backboard shattered, sending the Kings’ Bill Robinzine ducking. Three weeks later he did it again…

Dawkins named the first backboard-breaking dunk “The Chocolate-Thunder-Flying, Robinzine-Crying, Teeth-Shaking, Glass-Breaking, Rump-Roasting, Bun-Toasting, Wham-Bam, Glass-Breaker-I-Am-Jam.”[3]

He named other dunks as well: the Rim Wrecker, the Go-Rilla, the Look Out Below, the In-Your-Face Disgrace, the Cover Your Head, the Yo-Mama, and the Spine-Chiller Supreme. The 76ers also kept a separate column on the stat sheet for Dawkins’s self-created nicknames: “Sir Slam”, “Dr. Dunkenstein”, and “Chocolate Thunder.”

Also, he claimed to be an alien from the planet Lovetron where he spent the off-season practicing “interplanetary funkmanship” and where his girlfriend Juicy Lucy lived.[4]

Portland Zine Symposium

I just attended the Portland Zine Zymposium. About 200 vendors proffered their wares. Being a Steppenwolf aficionado (it’s on my desert island list), I am drawn to this sort of event. Here is the connection: Steppenwolf has several zine-like aspects, and they’re core to the very structure and meaning of the book. First, there is the opening narrator, who is dabbling in a little indie-publishing; by his own admission, what respectable house would take this stuff? Even he is incredulous. Then there is the moment when the plot deviates into Harry Haller’s Records, essentially a found text. Then, and most important, there is the Treatise on the Steppenwolf, a pulpy tract handed to Harry Haller by a street vendor on a dark and stormy night. Magic Theater! Entrance Not For Everybody! The tract has a samizdat quality to it. What zinester would not be proud to have their own work passed along thusly, in the dark, in the rain, down a cobblestoned street. What zinester would not want their work to tilt the trajectory of literature?

Can I even say zinester? Is that just too appalling?

My observations from the event:

1. I so want to start doing this!

2. I was most drawn to the vendors who had crafted beautiful printed works. The book arts. This engaged me far more than the content, which can be challenging or, given the natural diversity, can verge on arbitrary. Yet there’s no reason why book arts and the written word cannot inform each other.

3. I took notes on the best tactics for display and engagement, that I might apply these when my book comes out.

4. There seemed to be an imperfect overlap between zines and comics. They share elements, but they have many differences too. The graphic art at the symposium was stunning. Much of it had expanded beyond zines into pins, prints, stickers, and paper ephemera. My traveling companion nine years old the child of my first marriage loaded up on stickers.

5. I enjoyed guidebooks and samizdats, and any minutiae my thoughts organize themselves around.

6. My cut-up project, described in earlier posts, would make a fine zine.

7. A lot of the zines reminded me of Tumblr feeds. Will I get tarred and feathered for saying that? What is digital’s role in this? Are zines analogous to slow food? I did mention the book arts; zines are a tactile experience, and Tumblr can never replicate that.

8. A goodly number of the vendors were librarians. I love that.

9. I saw virtually no crossover with the literary world, ie, the AWP book fair.

10. My kid felt there were too many cuss words and not enough free candy.

Sending Out Stories

This morning I sent out stories. I sent to four magazines, including two short-story contests. The entry fees always seem steep, but the potential payouts are high, and, when I look at the numbers, the odds for a contest are far better than the odds for the dreaded slushpile. Assuming one’s work is any good, of course.

For example: The Missouri Review’s big contest (first place: 5000 bucks!) receives several hundred entries, while their slushpile receives several THOUSAND.

Thaswadimtalkinaboud.