And this year has not been off to the best start. A lag, and a rush, and dealing with new realities.
I read today about – was it Seneca? – who admonished people for waiting until 50 or 60 to begin living life intentionally. And there was something about focusing on being present, not on accomplishments. Of course, the people telling us this have all accomplished enough to say such a thing.
With a straight face.
I arrived in London on the 23rd of December, and ran down the escalators at every tube station. We ran 17K on Christmas Eve, and I woke up with runner’s knee on Christmas morning – only to bicycle across London to see the boys anyway. Now, two weeks and one painful New Year’s run later, it’s clear there will be no marathon for me in February. It’s a blow to my confidence.
And not the only blow to my confidence this month. There are work issues, other health issues. There is aging, which is probably somehow related to both.
There was a storm. And I find that I’ve let myself slip into an unproductive/objective (not present) perspective.
I’m behind in my correspondence.
Today I prodded E. to head out for a hike. (Another thing on my holiday to-do list was to get a new winter hiking jacket. Not done. After 20 minutes, my coat was soaked through. Thank goodness for wool.)
We headed out to Synesvarden, which seemed like an ironic name for the spot today. White: a 360 degree view of white. We take what life brings us. Today, it came a few meters at a time. The cold-stiff orange and yellow tussocks, the granite rocks that might be coated with ice. Shadows that grow into figures that mumble or holler, “good day” as they pass.
There was a dog barking somewhere in the forest, and we circled back to find her. But she went silent.
Isn’t there a culture that conceptualizes the future as something that comes at us from behind to overtake us? Maybe they are the only ones to have it right. All this planning, all the mirages we see ahead of us. The clump of earth that should be frozen, but that rushes suddenly from behind to slip into the present, under your foot, in the form of soft and giving mud. And there you have it: the irretraceable moment that is a wet sock.
There have been bright moments. Moments that shine a bit, like glassy eyes after half-a-bottle of wine. And I keep telling myself this will pass. This grief. Because that is what this is. It seems by body understood it long before my mind caught up to see what the problem was.
There is more to this new challenge: the surrender of ambition, the letting go of childhood dreams that were based on values that I may have never fully accepted, and don’t accept now. Fears can stand in the way, no doubt, but fear can also deflect the original aim of an ambition.
“Because we didn’t get enough love of children.” That is probably more of a paraphrase than a quote, from a fiction character in a musical.
There is that moment. When you get to the brink of where you deliberately headed, and you realise: this isn’t at all what I really want.
Coddiwomple: to wander purposefully towards a vague destination.
It’s time to admit it: to live intentionally doesn’t have to involve ambition. There is purpose in being in the moment, in being in the white with wet socks, and mist in your eyelashes.
Your write about not being able to sleep – and of course, wouldn’t it be that now I’m sleeping far too much. 10 hours most nights. I’m trying to give up looking for reasons or explanations. Unsure whether to give in entirely, or fight it: force myself out of bed on time to write and run before work. I’m not feeling myself.
So much darkness. In the mornings, I walk to the train in the pre-dawn half-dark, and after work I walk home again in the dark. Today I had E.’s car and drove home in the sunset. A layer of landscape, a layer of blue, jet streams low near the horizon, under pink stratus clouds. Above those, white cirrus clouds – like scattered feathers left by some mythical beast that must have been galavanting across the sky while I was inside the black box all afternoon.
Black box, as in black box theatre. I teach movement twice a week. I think you knew that. It’s a nice break from theatre history and production. It keeps me humble – and paranoid enough to force myself out of bed for a run – on most mornings.
There are days I envy you getting to work from home. Except I think I’m too introverted for that to work out well. I tried briefly when the boys were small and I got to the point where I wouldn’t go outside to check the mailbox. I feared I would stop changing clothes eventually. I believe my nature is too much like the inanimate objects of the universe: at rest unless acted upon, in motion until stopped. This time of year I need a good, solid shove.
I had to give up on the script I was planning to write. I contacted the author of the work I was going to base it on, and she has already sold the rights to a “major motion picture company”. I’m comforting myself with the reassurance that I can spot a good story.
Did I ever tell you about my novel? Everyone drinks coffee. That is, in nearly every scene people are drinking coffee. Or wine. It is really kind of awful. There is a drunken sex scene. Fade to the morning after. He is drinking coffee alone. The children don’t drink coffee, though. They do stuff. Maybe I should write a novel about children. Except I’m not terribly fond of children.
Seriously, I learned a lot from writing the novel that’s stashed in my drawer. But I’m still not sure why I wanted to tell the story. That story. Do you think about things like that? I even killed off the character most like me in the prologue to be sure I wouldn’t be telling the wrong story. Is thinking like that going to save me from unwittingly exposing a horrible truth about myself? Or is it simply self-sabatoge parading in pschyobabble?
It is odd that I thought you would have a reference for The Little Engine that Could. I don’t think of you as an American. Or even as an Englishman much. It is odd, isn’t it? How we are both tethered to, and out-of-touch with culture(s). I have been feeling that a lot lately. Not only the America/Norway thing, but which America?
By the way – The Little Engine That Could is probably one of the most evil children’s books ever written in that it convinces children that if they just try hard enough they can accomplish whatever they put their minds to. It’s the book Willy Loman (theater reference, sorry) read as a kid, I’m sure. It’s why the old, unemployed salesman winds up a suicidal wreck – but for all his self-confidence and positive thinking. I think Americans are brought up to be self-flaggelators at the alter of that particular secular superstition.
I wrote last time about banging pots and pans and getting ready for Christmas. I haven’t done that. I guess by now, from the tone of this letter, that is pretty obvious. I did pull out the Pete Seeger Christmas CD set. And as I typed that sentence, as though he’d read my mind, E. lit the candles here on the table. Now he is eating a cookie. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. He is definitely not reading my mind now. Marriage. It is all about balance, isn’t it?
A famous novelist (I will tell you who later) – a feminist of sorts from a country with few of them – had two pieces of advice for me. 1. Find a partner who loves you more than you love them. 2. Get a wife.
So, ignoring the first bit of advice, which I just find very, very sad: yes. I wish I could hire a “wife”. There is a pile of laundry downstairs. And last week we had a couple over for dinner. It did not go well. The chicken wasn’t cooked properly, and when I stuck all the food on the table “family style”, they looked at it, and then at me like I was asking them to eat with plastic sporks. E. didn’t pour the wine in the glasses, just handed the bottle around.
I figure: we had a lovely evening, all four of us – and if I judge right: they won the competition for best host and hostess. That makes them feel good, right? That is a good deed.
And besides, if I could carve a chicken and delicately place it on a plate without it landing in someone’s lap, I would have made better tips as a waitress, probably not held out algebra to graduate college, never moved to Norway… it is all part of the big plan that requires no positive thinking: merely creative rationalization. Life is good.
And although neither E nor I have a “wife”, the tree will be put up… eventually. The halls will be decked. Tomorrow evening we are going to a friend’s annual Christmas sildefest, which is always so much fun. We’ll walk downtown and see the Christmas lights around the harbour first. H’s wife is a singer and choir director, so there is always music. Six different kinds of herring, and laughter.
It will be the shove I need.
Much love to you and M. and the family.
May you get a good night’s sleep soon. (And I have an eye out for the music).
This week has been difficult. I believe I’m having a little emotional relapse. I’m having a difficult time accepting the world we live in. But I am going to leave that there for now. Instead I’ll write about one of those moments you try to catch. Mental snapshots. Has poetry, and the drive to write poetry, always been just Instagram with words?
Only far less popular? (That is as profound as I am going to get this morning.)
The old lady is here again this week. Last night I took her for a walk around the block. My rain clothes are black, and there are sections of the neighborhood with very poor lighting. Strange how the rain allows asphalt to swallow all the light. I wear an LED headlamp on nights like this. And every time I exhale, I watch a cloud form in front of me. There are glimmers of blue and red in the light of the headlamp. It becomes very meditative: watching the cloud form again and again. Only, instead of thinking about peace and the effortlessness of a Buddhist life, I think about the Little Engine that Could and how it seems every moment is a struggle against stillness. Life itself a disruption, the workhorse of a universe that would much rather remain at rest.
No wonder I feel tired this morning.
Your friend is probably right. Maybe it is this time of year that we should be pulling out the pots and pans, and banging them with wooden spoons like angry nisse? Lighting candles. It has been a rough week. I think I said that. But it has also been a week that demands that I put things in context. In a larger context. And be grateful.
A few years ago a colleague and I traveled abroad with the students. When we returned we talked about how difficult they had been. How they had complained the entire week, had been negative and demanding. Slowly, while we talked over a glass of wine, we came to the realization that it had been a single student – one of thirty – who had actually been difficult. We had just given him so much space in our awareness. We had allowed him to color the trip for us. And, as a consequence, and in turn, we had probably colored the trip for the other students.
I have been having to pull up that lesson this week. It’s like when I was 8 and ate a strawberry with a worm in it. It was years before I ate another strawberry. I used to love strawberries. I still approach them with caution. I have you ever eaten raw a worm? It tastes nothing like a strawberry. Should be easy really not to associate the two in my mind by now. To untangle it.
I suppose expectations matter, too, don’t they? When we expect people to be completely honest and we encounter lies of omission it’s all the more painful. I think those are the worst kinds of lies because the person on the receiving end is complicit. Who are we to assume the world is as we wish it to be? Especially when it comes to other people. At least at my age, I cannot say anyone has shaken my faith in human beings, or influenced the way I choose to interact with them. It’s more like one of those slow-motion scenes where you step where you knew you shouldn’t have, your foot goes through the ice and you realize, while it is plunging ankle-deep into the water, that you knew better and hadn’t been paying attention. You limp home, pushing down the bile of self-reproach. (Oh my, that was purple).
So it’s a purple morning.
Funny this about lies of omission relates loosely to Bee Bones (which I finished last night). I won’t say more. I read an aquaintence’s novel (NYT Bestseller) and had wanted to write on facebook about how it is a contemporary version of Anna Karenina. That would have ruined it for many. I won’t ruin Bee Bones for anyone. I enjoyed it. Again. I suppose I could say it puts a real twist in the “road trip” genre.
The old lady is lying here in the bibliotekette. Snoring softly. She hasn’t licked her paw this morning and I wonder if it will be already to let her be without the cone while I’m at work today. Last night she walked through the kitchen and knocked over several potted plants. Poor thing. I guess it isn’t really connected to her being so old. Puppies have a difficult time with plastic headgear, too, but I get the feeling that she is ashamed because she expects better of herself.
Rereading, I do believe all of that in the last paragraph was more an exercise in projection than an actual digression. Apropos self-analysis through an examination of one’s own writing (ie the subconscious at work) that we were talking about.
Switching gears: and back to your letter. Birthdays. I have this fear that I will forget my kids’ birthdays. In May, for example, I will get panicky that I have let something slip by (both were born in the fall). I actually get a jolt of electricity running through my arms at the thought. I have no idea if there is some psychological explanation for what is going on, but I harbor this fear as deeply as I do the fear of car accidents, or late night phone calls. And, now, what if I forget my wedding anniversary? E. Is such a romantic. He’d be hurt. Even with google calendar, I “misremembered” my doctor’s appointment this week. I scheduled simultaneous activities. I had to reschedule a chiropractor appointment three times this week because I forgot about work obligations.
I would worry, but this isn’t new.
You know when you have those perfect moments you wish could last forever? This has been such a weekend.
I think we should both write a short story about being caught in the perfect moment forever. I have a feeling it would be hell for me. Like being stuck in Sarte’s hotel room with no eyelids, no blinking, no respite. Wouldn’t it be like eating cake for breakfast, cake for luch and cake for dinner? We need our conflicts. Or I do.
I bet bacon is a good remedy for marispan overload.
Now sure what exactly is a remedy for purple prose, though.
I should get to work. Should write a poem or two.
Much love to you! (Thank you for Bee Bones.)
P.S. Have been having trouble sleeping the past weeks, so I thought I would sleep better if I skip the wine on weeknights. It seems to help. Damn it.
All these strange connections when one lets the subconscious bubble them up. I’m very certain that, were I not a poet, I would be one of those conspiracy theorists connecting Atlantis to the Bermuda Triangle, and to the disappeared women of Juarez. I’ve read that this is actually what creative people have in common with the mentally disordered: loose associations. Why there is likely much overlapping between the two groups.
First, what is a little coincidence, a digression, and a bit of proof that you and E have so much in common: last Saturday E picked out The Cursed Child as a Father’s Day gift. He hasn’t started it yet. (He just finished Unbroken, which he says was a much better book than film). You’ll have to let me know what you think. I probably won’t read it. K. told me that all the rules regarding magic that were established in the Harry Potter books, are broken. I hate to start a book with a bad attitude.
So. Yes. The “repeating myself” thing. I do that. I absolutely do that. And when I read that, I remembered a poem in mixed states called “On Not Repeating Myself”, which is about just that.
And the thing is, when I looked the poem up, I find it’s riddled with connections to our correspondence. In fact, the last stanza is:
I gave her the key
to the box
with all your letters.
(Your letter arrived yesterday and when I am finished here, it will go in the light blue box on the shelf in the library – with the others.)
The poem begins with the old lady, but she’s still a puppy. And then there is the “hip” Anti-Christ as an infant (yeah, I am reaching here but these days it feels relevant…). And then there is a mention of one of my recurring “ghosts”, this one perched at the foot of my bed (she is the one who has the key, by the way).
I think I’ve done nothing but repeat myself in some kind of Hegelian spiral my entire life. Or at least I hope it is more a spiral, than it is a puppy chasing her own tail.
I saw the shrink yesterday. It’s a relief to know I’m not mad. And I feel a bit like Sheldon saying, “My mom had me tested”.
And I think I’ve reabsorbed all my ghosts again – for now. Even the one “in cartoon prison garb” that I mention in that poem. She told me to keep writing.
The shrink also told me that, and then the rest of the day, I couldn’t write a thing. Like you, I find this whole political climate alienating. I thought that we would see an apocalypse. A sudden clash of extremes, and instead we have these horrors coming in “on little cat feet” like Sandburg’s fog. Part of me is relieved. And I’m deeply ashamed of that.
Already here in Norway the extreme right has been emboldened. Well. Perhaps. It could also be that the media now has sought them out, and is giving them attention. There is a fine, and messy line between uncovering the hate, and “ufarligjøring” it. I still can’t find a good English word for that. Everyone is saying “normalising”. I guess that is technically correct, but it doesn’t sound as dangerous in English, does it? We shine a light on what we find repulsive until we can actually tolerate it. Until we do tolerate it. Until we shrug, and seek out the ever-more outrageous news stories that will trigger a inexplicably pleasurable surge of hormones. It is supply and demand. I read that the President electoral -Elect pointed out to CNN how much money he made them this last year. We are a self-fulfilling prophecy of self-loathing and schadenfreude. And greed.
Last week I posted something to my students – I wanted them to see a possible indication of a parallel between Stalin’s suppression (and execution) of Meyerhold, and Trump’s tweet which attempted to define the role of the artist in his America. Some of them expressed concern, and I then tried to comfort them. I meant well, but wondered if I was just fanning the flames.
You know, I don’t take periodic breaks from Facebook because what is there upsets me, as much as because what is there affects me: I find myself on witch hunts of sorts, filled with anger and looking for opportunities to justify it. It is a kind of mob mentality, isn’t it? And yet…
Struggling to find my role here, as a white, cis-gendered ex-patriot (sic.) – I don’t have “boots on the ground” and I need to find a way to be supportive without appropriating, and to do my best to stop the spread of this… well: evil. I know you are doing your part.
All this seems to bring me back to Harry Potter. There is a podcast called Imaginary Worlds. The last episode I listened to talked about JK Rolling’s work with Amnesty and the empathy-effect of literature, especially the theme of racism in the Potter series. They talked about the werewolf Greyback as an analogy for homosexuality, but I had been thinking all along it was an analogy for bipolar disorder.
At any rate, I was thinking how one could view the whole series as another dystopic story. Albeit one with a bizarrely happy ending. I think it would be kind of funny if The Cursed Child made Harry out to be a kind of Walter Mitty. Full circle dystopia to status quo. What if it were all a daydream?
I think this is just me trying to comfort myself.
It sort of drifts back toward what we were talking about: giving in to what is difficult: the cold, the harshness. And your warning of how that kind of giving in can lead to giving up, accepting, euphoria and death. I guess I could avoid calling it “a test of manhood” – but the fact is, most women give birth and that is a test of womanhood in these old stories and traditions. Seems men in these stories battle nature from without their bodies, women from within.
Though I suppose in the end we all figure out that our own bodies are nature. When we no longer recognise ourselves in the mirror, and our limbs no longer do the things we will them to as quickly, as smoothly.
A lot of people say that old people turn to religion because they fear death and long for a distinction between body and soul -to comfort themselves. But what if it is just a recognition that becomes impossible not to see as one ages?
Nah. I guess I don’t really believe that. It’s probably just a lack of attention. We should do more like your acupuncturist suggests: eat and do nothing else, pay attention to the food, to our teeth, to our swallowing. We would probably know ourselves better and recognise our nature.
Maybe if we did, we would recognise and do something about the baser sides of ourselves? The self-loathing, and the schadenfreude? The greed.
I opened the last remaining bottle of red from my birthday stash tonight. A wonderful Barolo. I don’t know who gave it to me, but I’m grateful. It takes the edge off. It puts me in a forgiving state of mind.
Let’s hope it doesn’t kill me.
It helps to know you aren’t shrugging and giving up.
As you know, I sat down to write to you yesterday, but didn’t get far. But this morning E. gently asked me if I wasn’t up for the morning run.
I have a simple checklist to gauge my mental heath:
Did I get out of bed before noon?
Did I make the bed?
Did I get out of my PJs?
Did I shower?
Did I leave the house?
Did I run, yoga and meditate?
Did I write?
(There are all kinds of sub goals, for example: putting on pants that don’t have an elastic waist, or combing my hair.) I hit 1 out of 7 yesterday.
And honestly, I think that was just because I had to pee.
But this morning I managed 6 before 6.30 a.m. And I’m now in the bibliotekette with coffee and grapes, and with your letter at hand. Literally.
The handwritten version of your previous letter arrived yesterday, and put a smile on my face. I was grateful for the real-world object-ness of our connection on a day that seemed so unreal. It reminded me that we are doing something important in the world. Intentionally having (attempting to have) a meaningful conversation. Not in terms of big issues, or politics, but on a personal level. I think real consideration on that level has extended circles of influence in our own lives – to the big issues, and the politics. And that it matters indirectly, but concretely – in the world.
I like digesting your letters for a few days before responding. Letting ideas take root instead of volleying a tweet or sitting on messenger with a sense of urgency because we both have work to do. Not that one form of communication replaces the other.
I was going to write about freedom. About how you are right: because my kids are grown and call other places home now, I’ve sort of passed that last big pre-set on the list: Rearing Children. (I think probably caring for one’s aging parents is another one, but I don’t have that on mine – for all the freedom and the loss that fact entails).
Parenting gets so damn complicated from here. I tend to tick off both kids with my “meddling” – when I see it as careful suggestions, coupled with reasoning for those suggestions, since I want to make it clear that I respect them and don’t assume I know the answers. They interpret it as me pounding with them instructions and arguments. I still haven’t figured out the transition here, probably because I don’t know what this is supposed to be transitioning into. I respect both of them as adults. I believe that we have (independently, and respectively) friendships. But what is that “always a parent” part? How does that manifest?
Sometimes I wonder how much of my parenting insecurities come down to cultural divisions. Both my kids are Norwegian, and though Norway is home for me, my communication style is still – will always be – very American. Norwegians find it strident. I try not to be ashamed of that. I would quote my grandpa here, something about calling something for what it is, but I heard that phrase probably has a racist origin. But, you get the idea: jeg snakker rett fra leveren.
I worry that my children are still ashamed or embarrassed by me. I still talk too loudly – an American voice is placed in the mask – it carries (in more ways than one). It’s a matter of physics. What am I going to do? Adopt an accent?
It strikes me as funny that this of all things probably allows me to claim status as a “first-generation immigrant” (as opposed to expat): Worrying that my cultural traits will embarrass my children.
Or it would, if first-generation immigrant wasn’t code for something else.
Do you still miss living here? Miss being an immigrant? Are you happy with the unexpected repatriation in terms of your identity? Sometimes I forget which one of you is actually Norwegian: you or M.
Back to parenting and freedom: I sort of crossed into this place at once, though, with both feet – my kids being so close in age. I guess you are dealing with this transition with two, while still negotiating the teen years with two?
But it seems that once that’s checked off the standard list: “Sent the Offspring out into the World”, the rest is up to us. The Big Existential Crisis should be of no surprise. And those who don’t have it, or them, probably stop growing unless some big external event forces them onward? That sounds kind of judgmental, doesn’t it? But my point is that no one should be making fun of or shaming someone for a midlife crisis. It is something to celebrate, really. I mean, unless they think they can buy their way out of it: it’s a new round of “what the hell am I going to do with my life” – with no templates to choose from.
But we both have that covered already right? Isn’t that part of what this correspondence is about – reminding each other of that fact? That we are writers, yes, but more: that we are searching.
This summer I finally read Man’s Search for Meaning. I’m so ignorant that I had to google Frankl’s biography to make sure I wasn’t conflating his story with Primo Levi’s. With all respect due to Levi (whom I sincerely hope did not commit suicide after all), considering the mood I was in, I didn’t want to read a book about searching for meaning by a writer who might have killed himself in the end. I trust you don’t think I’m horrible for saying that out loud.
I’m actually pretty proud that I’ve reached a point where I see living as learning for the sake of learning – no reward, no grading, no big answer-key in St. Peter’s hands at the end of the line. It’s sort of like being let loose on the playground. If it weren’t for this nagging yearning to be “useful”. At first I was excited to see that Frankl tries to release people from that idea:
“[…] this usefulness is usually defined in terms of functioning for the benefit of society. But today’s society is characterised by achievement orientation, and consequently it adores people who are successful and happy and, in particular, it adores the young. It virtually ignores the value of all those who are otherwise, and in so doing blurs the decisive difference between being valuable in the sense of dignity and being valuable in the sense of usefulness.” – Viktor Frankl
But, yeah. No. I got no shot at being dignified. You saw I mentioned pee earlier? Usefulness is my only chance.
When it came to parenting, I figure even where I screwed-up, at least my example was still useful in terms of bad examples for my kids to take into account. I have the same attitude toward teaching, actually. And when I translate, I feel a bit like a midwife for other people’s gifts. That is all useful. But I’m trying hard to summon the confidence that my own gifts are worthy as gifts.
Just realised how handy that word is: gifts. The fact that we use it to describe a talent, and we use it to describe a generous contribution for other people’s benefit. Of course it’s the same word. A built-in reminder that we should be focusing outward in terms of our creative “making”?
At any rate. Confidence. I used to think that men had an easier time feeling confident in their own work. But now I believe that it is more that men have an external (gendered) pressure to have behave as though they have more confidence. It is part of being “a man”, isn’t it? Is that what taught you to not care what other people think?
I’m curious: you write, “I must admit I’ve given up caring about what people say about my writing, but frustrated when no-one is saying anything. Maybe I do have the constant need to be the centre of attention […]” But when you are frustrated that no one is saying anything, do you secretly fear that that is because they are being too polite to say it sucks? Not because I think anyone would think that, but because that is what I assume when my writing meets with silence.
When something is met with silence, I immediately begin looking it over, a bit panicked: “Did I just make an ass of myself?” Yeah. It’s like I leave no room for a continuum. Applause or Ridicule. I need to get out of other people’s heads.
I haven’t asked what you are working on now. Are you using November’s NANO as an external deadline? October 1st, I committed myself I would submit something – anything – once a week. I did it for two weeks. Both pieces were accepted, but maybe that’s why I’ve been slacking now? Knowing rejection is due? Trying so hard to avoid it. Imagining how hard a series of ten rejects would be on my ego now. Ego? Confidence. That sounds better.
Most of the prestigious journals charge for submissions. I’m having trouble getting my head around that. I know I’m paying them for a chance to use them as a conduit to reach readers. Readers who are primarily other writers. Other writers who need their work in that journal because they need a solid CV to get or keep their jobs in academia, or to convince a book publisher that they are worthytheir work is worthy of publication in book form. We make the gatekeepers and we serve them. We pay dues. Monetary dues.
I know it is arrogant to think I am “beyond that”, but at the same time it seems really stupid. I don’t even keep track of my journal publications, mainly because I don’t need a CV to keep a job. And I haven’t (thus far) needed one for book publications.
But my situation is changing regarding the kulturråd her. I’m not sure what to do.
Is it the same game with you? Do agents charge you to read your work, charge to consider representing you? I really like the indie idea(s). I’ve been listening to a few episodes of Rocking Self-Publishing. But they are talking about algorithms and things that sound like they involve steep learning curves, and a lot of marketing savvy. Have you dived into all that serious research and “writing to target”? Did you consider pen names for different genres? I dare say that Dead MenandThe Failed Assassin are quite different from each other.
There was a poet a few years ago who established what she called nano-publishing (but it wasn’t what they call nano-publishing now). It was very like a tiny publishing coop. Are there many of those around? It seems so do-able. I think Alice James, in the States, started out that way. Their writers have to live in the States. I’m assuming because they can do book tours and sell books.
Seriously thinking I will just go back to handmade books. I could set up a card table in Paris, like the guy in the photo I sent you with the last letter. That might buy me a hunk of cheese once a year. But it won’t pay for the plane ticket.
But neither will a whole CV full of publications in prestigious journals.
I think I’m going to write some poems today. I love you for giving me this space to explore, Richard. And before I sign off, I have to tell you that I got all warm and fuzzy inside when I realised that your letter came on two different sized sheets of paper. My grandmother used to type her letters to me. For some reason, her standard letter was one and a half sheets. She would cut the sheet in half, and save the other half for the next letter.
After a day of being painfully touched in such a deep place by the news, it was beautiful to have a warm light shine on that same deep place. We find meaning where we look for it.