With apologies to Langston Hughes
Happy Birthday, America. I’m celebrating
your being another year older, thinking about
everyone who is you, who has been you, who
is going to be you. With a cane for those
proud moments when you still rise up,
you can enfold your many selves in those
strong, old arms—or with that rod of iron
spread hate, that lick of un-humanity. Will you
choose the colors in the sky tonight?
Will you welcome all comers, all the many
children of America? I can only hope that—
even now, eyes gone pale—you will
remember that you are America.
This poem sprang from a re-reading this morning of Langston Hughes’ “I, Too.” If you don’t know it, give it a read. For those who do know it, check it out again, if you haven’t in a while. America the Beautiful is many things, many people. Look around for a minute and you’ll see her looking back at you.
Happy Independence Day.
What’s good? Many things, new and old, that I’ve gotten to so far this year. Not pictured are:
- The Ritual, which I liked and thought interesting enough to write an essay about for the forthcoming first issue of The Silent Garden: A Journal of Esoteric Fabulism.
- Many works that The Internet Writ Large seemed to dislike, and which I’ve found at least readable or watchable. 2012’s Solomon Kane, for instance, about which I’d previously only heard complaints. I thought it delightful, in something of the way that Constantine (2005) was delightful.
- All things Mike Mignola. One of his works is below, but I’m trying to read the bulk of his Hellboy/Mignolaverse work this year, with others added as I’m able. No particular reason for that, other than that I’ve really enjoyed it in past, but only read snatches. I’ve spent the last few years (for one reason and another) reading a host of things that seemed a good idea to read, or people suggested I read, or I was required to read. 2018 struck me as a good year for reading both more overall and more intensively the things I enjoy.
On to the recs…
This year’s ICFA was a delight to attend, and on many counts! As always, I met many interesting scholars, writers, editors, and good folks of various fields, as well as connecting with old friends and laying devious plans. My academic paper was well received, the panel involved a productive and wide-ranging take on Weird Tales and weird fiction, and my reading seemed to go over well.
I’m not going to say much more about the conference here, as I’m writing up the event for another publication (more about that down the road). James McGlothin captured his experience nicely, if you want to take a look, over at Black Gate. Here are a few pictures…
Early a.m. panel on WEIRD TALES, featuring (L to R) Sean Moreland, moi, Jeffrey Shanks, Tracy (May) Stone, and GoH Nike Sulway. Photo by Dierk Gunther
Words & Worlds Prose Reading, with Doug Ford reading his “Pig Feast.” Readers included Derek Newman-Stille (out of frame), Regina Hansen, Gina Wisker, Doug Ford, and moi. Photo by Jenna Jarvis
And finally, I got an awfully nice response from no less than Michael Arnzen on the story I read. I don’t think the conference could have had a better end:
ICFA 39 is almost here! I meant to post about this weeks ago, but the days ran away from me. Really looking forward to seeing friends and colleagues old and new. I’m doing a few things this go-round…
Thursday, March 15, 2018 8:30-10:00 a.m., Oak
(HL) Panel: Weird Tales and the Evolution of Weird Fiction
Moderator : Sean Moreland
[I’ll be a panelist at 8:30 in the morning! The horror, the horror!]
Thursday, March 15, 2018 10:30-12:00 p.m., Maple
(HL/FL/SF) The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovecraft
Chair: Andrew P. Williams
[I’ll be giving a paper during this session — “Lies, Damned Lies, and Eldritch Statistics: Toward a Quantitative Analysis of Lovecraft’s Literary Reputation.” Warning: there will be charts.]
Saturday, March 4:00-5:30 p.m., Vista B
Words & Worlds Prose
Host: P. Andrew Miller
[Long-running ICFA group reading series, in which I’m delighted to be included.]
For any RVA-ns, or Richmond-adjacent folks, this Sunday (February 18th) I’ll be participating in a group reading with a bunch of local authors. It’s going to be noir and broken hearts, and it starts at 7:00 p.m. at McCormack’s Irish Pub.
For two years I’ve been attempting to write a novel that has at times not felt like it wanted to be written. In true Monty Python fashion, it sank into the swamp again and again, once after a truly spectacular fire. Twice I thought it was going to have to be abandoned, and at least once during this time I thought about hanging up my writerly hat and moving on to something else. We all do that from time to time, but this was a difficult passage.
Each time the book foundered, though, it eventually arose again, replaced by something a little closer to the mark. I’ve now ported the core story through three genres, winding up with a book that I’ll likely try to sell as literary horror, though with a wink and a polish it could be sold under two other flags. Perhaps funnily, it started life as a literary horror novel, though I’m not sure if it’s the laughing kind of funny.
In two years I’ve written more rough draft, backstory, outlines, synopses, character sketches, and fake documents (it was epistolary at one point) than I care to count. As of this afternoon, version 5.0 has crossed the 10,000 word mark. I have a synopsis, some loose chapter outlines, and a road map to finish before year’s end. I’m more relieved that I can possibly say, and genuinely excited. Bon weekend to you all, and Happy 2018.
My writing year 2017 was pretty quiet, with one new story and one reprint in audio. This marks ten years since my first publication as “J. T. Glover,” with a number of milestones along the way. Have I learned anything since then? Sure.
1. Finish what you start, edit it, and then submit it.
2. Be cautious of anyone who uses the phrase “the writing community.”
3. Read the contract.
4. Words are infinite, but your time isn’t.
5. Reading is often helpful in writing more, both the usual stuff and new stuff, but don’t forget why you love what you love.
6. Listen closely to advice from currently working professionals.
7. Bad behavior is no bar to publication, but the publishing world is only so large, and people will talk.
8. Timely, professional business communication is a good sign.
9. You never know who’s reading your stuff.
10. For every person who extols the virtues of the writing life, three writers are broke, five have day jobs, one has a generous spouse or family, and two are very busy freelancers.
Anything else? Sure, but your time would be better spent on this stuff:
“Picking Up Things Instead of My Pen”
Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living
Starve Better: Surviving the Endless Horror of the Writing Life