It’s Wednesday, and like every Wednesday, I’m busy, so here’s a quote:
“When I’m high I can penetrate into the past, recall childhood memories, friends, relatives, playthings, streets, smells, sounds, and tastes from a vanished era. I can reconstruct the actual occurrences in childhood events only half understood at the time. Many but not all my cannabis trips have somewhere in them a symbolism significant to me which I won’t attempt to describe here, a kind of mandala embossed on the high. Free-associating to this mandala, both visually and as plays on words, has produced a very rich array of insights.”
Imagine if Hemingway was raised by a gangster, that sums up Barry Gifford’s Roy stories perfectly, all of which have been recently collected in The Cuban Club. It’s Nick Adams via Chicago. I love this gem from the second story, “Dingoes”
“There are evil spirits haunt this earth who beguile good men and women and render them useless.”
Shocker, most Americans aren’t readers. It’s been a problem for a very long time, and we can blame the digital age all we want, but the fact is basic reading skills have been on the decline for the past fifty years and it’s not going to change any time soon. If anything this New York Times article is at the very least optimistic that it knows how to get people to read more.
I submitted my first book of six early last night.
It was a good feeling.
I’ve turned in my fair share of books over the past few years, but most of those have been under different names, the all important paycheck. But there’s something really satisfying about sending out your own work and I’ll be doing it a lot more in the coming months.
When I say six books, this is how it breaks down:
Two short story collections (One of which went out last night).
A “collection” of four novellas. I have “collection” in quotation marks because I don’t know if I’ll try publishing them as a single book, or self-publish them individually and fool around with the medium a bit.
Novel #1 is the book I’m currently under contract for. Yeah, that’s getting my full attention at the moment because I like money and I’m having fun telling the story.
Novels #2 and #3 are the long stories I’ve been working on since I quit my old day job a few years ago. Novel #2 (Which is actually #1, but, you know, it’s on spec, so it’s #2 at the moment) was actually conceived in 2011, so it’s been brewing awhile.
On top of that (Yeah, I know, I can go fuck myself), I’ve got forty some odd poems out in the wind with another ten waiting to be typed up. Twelve unaffiliated short stories (A few of them are out as simultaneous submissions. BTW, don’t do that, but in the same breath, more than a few publishers can go and fuck themselves. I’ve had a bunch of these stories out for six months.), three waiting to be submitted (Time constraints because of market research. Subscribe to Duotrope, it’s worth the $50. But it can be a bit time consuming finding the right markets), four to be typed. Then there’s the two previous collections which I might or might not put back out into the world (Right now, it’s no).
Then there’s the columns for Gamut (of course, Gamut is no more)
2017 has been a very busy year and a very good one.
I know this all sounds like bragging, I promise you, it’s not.
When I was a younger man, still working in a semi-professional cube farm, I promised myself if I ever had the chance to stay home and do nothing but write, I would take full advantage of it. I feel like I’m doing just that and I’m getting to raise and take care of my family, too. Ultimately, it’s a boring life, it’s the kind of life a writer needs.
I’m not bragging, at the moment, I’m proud of myself, that’s it, and it’s me, the baby, the dogs, and the cat here to celebrate, so you’re getting a sappy blog post out of me.
And succeed or fail, I can at least say that I went for it.
Here’s a sad piece of news, Gamut Magazine will be shuttering after 2017. Here’s what Richard Thomas had to say:
“Unfortunately I have some bad news—there will not be a year two of Gamut. I was going to post a long essay on my blog but basically it boils down to this—we didn’t have enough support, interest, or subscriptions. We needed to double our base, and only got about 30% (about 200 in total). And I take full responsibility for all of this—this is MY failure. While the Kickstarter was a resounding success, most everything else we tried did not work out well—advertising, our referral program, editing services, the film series, etc. The Day of Reckoning classes and the Gamut retreat both DID go well, but it wasn’t enough. Of the 805 backers, about 600 had subscriptions, some 200 never even logging in, about 300 stopping by in the past six months. So even if all 600 renewed, it wouldn’t be enough. If we published your work, I want to say thank you—that’s ONE THING, that I’m definitely proud of, the quality of work we published this year. Amazing stories, poetry, essays, and artwork. Special thank you to my staff—especially Mercedes Murdock Yardley, Dino Parenti, Casey Frechette, Heather Foster (couldn’t have done it without you), but also thanks to Bob Crum, Whittney Jones, Hillary Raque Dodge, Fred Venturini, Kya Aliana Shore, Mackenzie Cox, Lori Michelle, and my columnists, Max Booth III, Diddle Knabb, and Keith Rawson. And of course, special recognition must go to Luke Spooner for all of his fantastic illustrations, which really helped to define us. To everyone that supported this project, thank you. It was a wonderful year. I’ve spent the last six years working on Dark House Press and Gamut, and it’s time I got back to my own writing. I’ll end with this last thought—if you see a new (or small) publication, and you want it to last, spend some money. I don’t subscribe to every publication out there, not even every magazine I want to BE IN, but over the years I have bought copies of just about every genre publication out there, tons of small press books, and many literary journals. Best of luck out there, everyone. Keep dreaming big. We have to take our shots, have to swing for the fences. Onward and upward.”
Long story short, babies, it’s a pain in the ass to operate a lit journal. I will say I’m incredibly proud of the work I did with Gamut, and I hope it’s regular readers enjoyed the magazine and all of the great stories, poems, and essays it published.
Throughout 2017, the Washington Post has been running a monthly series on Americans living off of Disability InsuranceThe series has been sobering to read and I honestly believe close to 50% of the American population will be living in some form assistance due to a combination of lack of jobs, environmental disaster, and illness.
The latest article focuses on people dying while waiting to be approved for disability. Fair warning, the article is at times graphic and is unflinching in its portrayal of poverty in America. As hard as it is to face, it’s time for us to start taking a hard look at the issues of the poor. Because, let’s face it, most of us are a major illness or a job loss away from living in poverty.