Monday, February 1, 2010

Wherein I make an accounting for myself and beg your indulgence, dear readers

I am taking a break from writing to write. My better brain-bits are disconnected but many might think this makes for better reading than my more effortful work.

When I began this blog, I promised to take you through the publishing process of a grand idea to follow the harvest of wine grapes around the world. The blog would be filled with practical examples of proposal writing, fascinating research into the many corners of the earth, from Thailand to Peru to New Zealand to Madagascar and even Kansas.

Now I'm posting prose poems about the moon and shit? What the fuck? Where'd the sexy go? And you're right. An explanation is owed.

First I got distracted by Kodoku, both the children's book, (publication date: 2012!) and the play, which a couple theaters are interested in but I'll say no more for fear of the Jinx, which led to another children's book manuscript, currently under review by a publisher, about a spider silk tapestry, and a series of short stories that use many of the tropes and forms of children's literature to produce adult work naturally, rather than just dumping a bunch of sex into old fairy tales. Magical realism that consciously invokes children's literature-- something like that. I still owe an ending for a Kansas giant that is very dear to me and realization to a glass city that grows inside the Pub.

All of this happened during the harvest in Kansas. It was a productive time.

When I returned I became very, very busy but not with writing and then the holiday black hole and now prose poems?

Well-- there's yet another project you don't even know about yet. I went to the Land Institute's annual Prairie Festival when I was in Kansas and conceived the brilliant (!) idea of riding my horse from Kansas to see Wendell Berry and write a book fusing the travel narrative with my emerging agrarian ideas and a reaction to the grand old man's work. Wes Jackson, who IS the Land Institute is a neighbor (he likes to remind me that he was there when my grandpa's old house burned down) and a close friend to Wendell. I figured he could put me in touch, so after I charted the route and assured myself it was possible, I asked.

And he Wendell-blocked me. He was quite nice about it and right to do so (Mr. Berry is taking a break from his globe-trotting schedule to actually be on the farm he talks about sometimes and maybe even do some writing!) but it still ruined a very fine idea, and a saleable one as well- which was important because of various systems of mathematics.

System one: With Olga in Santa Cruz for a year as she learns to be a Science Journalist, and me part time there and in the Bay Area, I began to add up the total amount of time we have spent apart during our nigh seven years of marriage. After reaching two years my brain went wonky and I stopped counting. I still don't know. But we decided things were a little out of hand, so perhaps my plan to travel around the world for a year while she finished her program was less than ideal. 365 Crush still lives! but has been put off for a year.

System two: I've realized that the very comfortable and engaging work at the Pub was colluding with backward elements of my personality to produce little real writing. It afforded me money, esteem, a sense of purpose, community, plenty of free time, and women to flirt with. So really, why write? I needed a new algorithm.

System three: My novel still needs major work and will likely a) not sell b) sell but not make any money or c) sell for some money but not for a long time. Both 365 Crush and my overland horse adventure could very likely have been sold, thereby kick-starting my career as a working writer. But both are on hold and/or the scrap heap. None of my other ideas, even in wild champagne-filled bathtub fantasies, will pay the rent. So I've learned to accept and enjoy my writerly dissolution.

I am sorta playing with entering the William Saroyan Playwriting competition, which shells out a sweet ten grand for a play on Armenian themes, and I have a doosey of an idea about a famous Armenian writer who takes his son to a whorehouse near Fresno when he's thirteen where the son, or the father, unknowingly impregnates one of the women, who keeps the child who (the child) grows up with this secret mythology and then goes looking for her pa when she reads one of his stories about visiting the whorehouse! Also she has psychic light-bulb breaking and bat calling powers. (J-- you were there when I got that call... and it is actually a wonderful story)

But if I don't win I'll always wonder if it was because I wasn't Armenian. Maybe I should Armenianize my pen name. W. Emerionian? It's due in two weeks.

So that is what has been going on, dear readers, and why instead of telling you about the unique and delectable properties of Santa Cruz Mountain Pinot Noir sipped in the heady late afternoon hour of sunlight after two weeks of rain, watching steam lift from the sequoia and fir, tasting of ollalieberries and earth or reprinting my homoerotic correspondence with a Lebanese sculptor/oenophile/war profiteer who I'd have to seduce/fend off in August.

And yet the brain still boils! Other murky projects-- a TV series about the Russian experience of WWII, KRISH-2: a Bollywood Space Opera, The Dying Counties of Kansas, and the New Agrarian Manifest!

God help me I'm not making any of those up, except for the Lebanese guy, who I'm more intuiting.

But do keep reading... something interesting is bound to happen, right?


kim said...

so to completely skip over 99% of your post and focus on one minor point: i would SO watch a tv series on the russians in WW2! do you think the US is ready for that? it seems like something that would be lovingly shot and intensely acted and shown on HBO.

wait, didn't we talk about this at thanskgiving?

if you actually do this, can i work on it with you?

Whim said...

you're hired. have your people call my people.

Hale True Benson Squire said...

count me in for dying kansas and the bollywood thing. Funny this theme of reinvention. Spring where you are, by chance? Still winter here, as you can tell by the continued persistence with which I'm not posting a single further picture on the gestalt detective genius-kernel project. Sigh.

Jeremy Russell said...

Psychic light-bulb breaking bat-calling powers? So, she's the Armenian Carrie! I always knew Stephen King and William Saroyan were in the same ball park somehow.

WordWrestler said...

While I'm with you on the mission creep aspect, I need to say two related things.

1. Your prose poems move me. Don't stop writing them.

2. There is a Kenneth Patchen exhibit at the Legion of Honor which made me think of you.

Whim said...

Hale True: In fact the past two weeks have been spent, in between periods of rain, watching a cherry, willow, and honeysuckle bud and break. But please, more Brentano soon. He haunts me some. And I love the recent blog activity for Hale...

Jeremy: The Armenian Carrie is legion. As Herb Gold once (re)told me, 'It's not true that all Armenians are crazy. It's just the 98% that give the rest a bad name."

Word Wrestler: I wasn't fishing but I am very heartened you enjoy the prose poems. And a Patchen exhibit at the Legion of Honor? Thank you! for telling me.

Kyle said...

Hey W. Great update! I'm going to be in the bay area the first week of March so maybe we can get together and discuss the logistics of riding a horse from Kansas to Kentucky. I think it would be brilliant to do it in the manner of a standard car road trip (e.g., stop by gas stations, eat fast food, stay at cheap motels, etc., but all on your horse). Alternately, do you think East St. Louis has nice camp grounds? Also, I'm sorry to hear about the delay in your 'round the world wine adventure. I had big plans to hijack a part of it...ask Sarah how...