A Grand Announcement
I’m gonna publish all of what I’ve written, of the project which began under the title of “The Whisperer By The Well”. And I’m gonna do it on Twitter.
What I’ve written amounts to seventy-two (72) printed pages (single-spaced) of paper. Twitter has a limit of one hundred and forty (140) characters — that includes spaces — per Tweet.
“hOW, THEN,” I hear you clamor, get CAPS LOCK off, and “are you gonna do that? And why? And whO is #TWBTW?”
- I’m not publishing this in tweets. That would be insane, and take godknowshowlong to do. Plus: if I want people 2B able to read the damn thing, I’d have to create an associative-tag. So instead…..ok, fine. THis whole idea spawned from my playful defacement of the best thing I have ever written. I put a simple copyright © on every page (matter of habit), neatly separating my name and the year/month of what story is on the page above it. Occurred to me, as I was shuffling the numbered pages of this budding masterpiece (cuz hey. If I don’t tell you, who’s gonna know? I don’t have time for critics to review it, praise it, and do a writeup on top-blogs and newsprint that, at best, gets skimmed before being torn up for firewood-tinder.), that I can self-publish. I can tweet photos from the story, of these pages as I go through the editing-process. People will need to zoom in if they wanna read it — and the pages are arranged randomly. AND the story takes place in eight different years, between three and eight-hundred years apart. Piecing it all together, that’s up to you.
- Why? I can tell you in seven words (or thirty-five characters (150 letters left!!) if you’re on Twitter): “ the best thing I have ever written.”. “T.W.B.T.W.” IS the best damn thing I’ve ever written. And I have written a LOT. I’ve been writing great shit for years, and — caugght between the usual pair: my unwillingness to publish on the grounds that none of it’s good enough to show people, and the landscape of the publishing industry. The Internet has given us the ability to freely blog about whatever; gradually, then incrementally, people began to get their news online. People read articles on their iPads, and they watch indie-films on YouTube. Talented kids who could never get a full-out audition to show what they’ve got can share a video of their piano-whatever-thing with thousands of people. The Networx are scrambling to create sensationalism, to stir up the ratings, to keep us scared. To make us think in the language that they give us. And the publishing industry crumbles, as booklovers rabidly scan through endless information. More importantly: it’s so much work to get your shit published, be paid a few hundred dollars, and reach a steadily-dwindling audience. So: I’m publishing it in fragments on Twitter. A digital jigsaw-puzzle story.
- As for ‘who’ (#3, @ 3:03AM. Kewl.) T.W.B.T.W. is, you’re asking the wrong question. That would be “what is ‘T.W.B.T.W.’?” ANSWER: It’s the working title of the Best Damn Thing I Have Ever Written (#TBDTIHEW). I started writing it last November.
The notorious Friday The Thirteenth of November. The night of the Paris Attacks.
No…….no. That’s not right. Two days earlier (Armistice Day, 11/11/11), I did a bunch of shit on how “the War On Terror CANNOT Be wON — But It Can End.”.
A nail punctured the car-wheel as I was driving on a rainy afternoon, so I spent an hour waiting for AAA, thinking about that whole “for want of a nail” thing. I had Harlan Ellison’s The Glass Teat in my pocket, so spent an hour reading an angry-old-man-by-the-age-of-twenty-three’s (I love H.E.’s work dearly, but without <is ‘cutting it fine’ right here?>, he’s a MEAN sumbitch when he don’t like ya. His sneering dismissal of The Brady Bunch jumps to mind. (3:16AM, so I’ll dig that up later to quote for y’all (unless H.E.’s lawyers bring me a cease-and-desist for quoting a paragraph without running it by them/him. He’s…….kinda litigious. Just ask James Cameron.)) More positively: he champions The Smothers Brothers (‘smo-bro’; #SmoBro) fervently, and rails agaijnst the heavens and CBS (I think. Not positive which network.) for letting it get tossed. Today, they could do their show on YouTube and get an even wider audience — who only have to wait between five and thirty seconds to watch their latest musical-guest (YT search: “Jefferson Airplane Somebody To Love”.). In that video, one of the brothers opens for the Airplane with the following:
Their style features a combination of psychedelic sound and, well…. we suggest that if you want to experience it to the fullest, you….I don’t wanna offend any of you, but that you eat a banana before watching it.” [Bro#2 calls from offcam] “Or smoke a banana, as my brother said. But he’s a little far out, even for me.
I read Harlan for an hour, thinking about that nail, and what the destiny of a nail might be. That a nail might usefully hold up a wall or roof. Or that someone will step on it, they’ll throw the poor nail into the trash and it’ll be whisked away to the dump. Or get dumped into a pressure-cooker, and be the essential component of a weapon of mass destruction that can be carried in a casually-dropped duffel bag. Or hold up various clothes, over the years that the occupant of the room uses it as a useful hook. Or a hundred other things.
Everyone wants someone to love them. Even nails.
I went for a jog that night with eleven nails in an orange pill-bottle in my pocket. (I know. Writing process is weird sometimes.) Thinking about where they’ll end up, and of writing a story-collection called NaiLS that would be eleven stories about the lives of different nails.
The pressure-cooker story was vivid (me being a Boston Boy), so I played with that as I took a long jog around a large dark pool. Watching office-lights ripple across the surface; their stolid reflections above static glass.
The next day, I came up with a weird little thing, I forget the name but could find it via “November ‘15". Probably a one-word title.
Terrorism is a big theme in my work — or has become one in the past couple years. So when the Attacks happened, I immediately started ticking away on what (throwing on ENTER SANDMAN. wAS playing on radio then, strong association with that week. Music serves as a conduit for memory) I was gonna write, to……….get out all the huge ideas I’ve sporadically been trying to grasp, when I come up with another story that feels promising.
The idea rolled aroundaroundaround (quite sober at the time. Little toke that afternoon, but that’d been the first I had in a few months.), fast as hell, and in flipping through a discarded library book — cuz it’s partly about Medieval France, and I wanted something French for associative inspiration — it all came into place in a blast of blinding clarity.
That…also. The thing I hit on, which sits at the absolute unshakable core of this story. That revelation came because I was rereading two fondly dog-eared and furiously highlit masterpieces, by two of my all-time-favorite writers, in the weeks before the 13th.
Plus November 5th. Guy Fawkes Day. V For Vendetta. And the disastrous mess of October before (save for my weekend away from myself at RenFaire, visiting one of my blood-brothers) November blissfully heralded the end of our Halloween monstrosity. The one damn word that you can put right before ‘monstrosity’ in a positive way, and our thing was still a regular-day-trainwreck.
Lotta shit rolled into this thing.
It consumed me. It was with me in my dreams. I spoke with the characters, figuring out where they came from, their motives dreams likes and things they despise, and other writerly things. Come mid-December, I’ve got about thirty pages of it, estimating I’ll be done (by which I mean: can be read start-to-end, with no breaks for unwritten dialogue or foundation-level exposition.) with the rest in a couple weeks — then decide to push myself. To swear that the Year TwoThousandAndSixteen will dawn upon a complete draft of this thing which had been overriding other important life-shit. To be ready to hand this child of mine to one of my trusted first-round readers and anxiously wait long enough to say “So? What did you think of it?”
I want my baby out in the world.
I want it published ‘properly’ somewhere. But truth of it is: a writer publishes his/her/them’s work in the hope of getting recognized, of being able to eventually live on what they love. THere are other reasons, sure, but it always comes back to that. Otherwise, we’d go do something that would actually PAY livable money.
And the state of the Publishing Industry (print AND digital) makes that hard. Plus the question of, well, that if this is the best thing I’ve ever written, why aren’t I sending it to publishers?
Cuz I’ve written something controversial and big and complicated and occasionally pretty ugly. It’ll never get picked up, and if I was already established (and had any kind of pull/friendship with the publisher) there would be questions.
Getting this thing out into the world matters more than the money.
It’s in the process of being heavily revised, so what I’m sharing won’t be finalized work. Much of it will get cut. And you’ll see my editing-process, which I think(/hope) will prove instructive and entertaining. My name © and date of writing will appear on every photo with my work on it.
Harlan Ellison is one of my literary heroes. He turned my enjoyment of writing into a blazing passion for telling stories, for calling bad shit what it is and skewwering it (not unlike John Oliver. But much grumpier.), solidifying it as my life-calling.
But he‘s extremely protective of his work online. (NOT going into that. It is 4:04AM now.)
I could be that way. What you write has to have value — if you’re not being paid, why are you putting it out there?
WHy? Cuz I believe, in the pit of my soul, that this story NEEDS to be shared. Not just for my sake, but for everything I’ve bound into it, for the lives that will be touched by this thing. And the hope that some folks will grok it.
It’s nearly 4:20 in the morning. So what the hell. I’ll spend thirteen minutes listening to whatever band YouTube thought I’d enjoy (based on my original choice of MEZZANiNE (one of the best albums ever cut)) and grinding up s’more Girl Scout Cookies.
What a wonderful way to start the day :)
<0>WAS — 4:09AM<_>