Gerard, this is a little off topic but it revolves around a current theme – the outing of words.
I knew this couple in our town, well I made a point of meeting them when I noticed in their front window (they lived in a converted bank) the lyrics of Bob Dylan’s classic song – Masters of War.
It struck me as odd, and wonderful. I was still new to the town, but hey, I’m still here, kind of concreted in these days, well, with a jackhammer caveat.
OK then, when I did get to peek inside the two-storied converted bank and sit down for a coffee, a biscuit, and a chat, these two retired teachers, both in their late sixties, proved to be all the left wing Buddhist disenchanted post hippies that I’d hope they’d be, erudite, creative, lived all around, you know the score, his hair hung to his shoulders but I couldn’t see his face through the beard and she was fancy ex-european, ballerina type, slightly faded beauty, but a honey in her day, the photos on the walls testified to it – his real photographic skills and her nude frame, I tried not to look too interested, just in case I was fired out the door for being a, well, pervert?
Sure, I’ll cut to the chase. Over the next few years I visited them often and they visited us, well he did, she didn’t do visits, but happily went out to local eateries with me and partner, we were a swell foursome, they confessed to never having kids – the world was a rough place they said – way too rough to bring innocent children into – the kind of remark you let go through to the keeper. Shit, I’ve raised three of the buggers into this rough-house and they all seem happy enough with the deal, most of the time.
So she, the still slim ballerina who would never hurt a fly, decided, one day, out of the blue, to write books, or a book – to begin with. Occasionally she would get me to read a page, careful not to divulge too much at any one time, maybe she thought I was going to clone it, race her to the publishers? – it was kind of science fiction stuff, a genre I’ve never really been that interested in. I’m not shitting on it.
So she wrote the book that I’ve never actually read – just parts of, and started sending the manuscript off to publishers – rejection slips followed, so she paid an agent and more rejections followed, then she rewrote the book, about three times over, at the suggestion of a publisher who was, apparently, half interested – all to no avail. Why does Harry Potter come to mind? Anyway, she eventually abandoned the project, well that book in particular, and started another one, trading off her experiences thus far – this ballerina had grit, as much as John Wayne.
Over the unfolding years she wrote, in all, three books, before she became convinced that the world was against her, or them, and as they had plenty of money (integral to the plot of this yarn, no publisher put their hand up, no agent could alter the outcome) they decided to buy another ‘writing’ house, board up the local bank/home, and this they did, settling on an expensive, isolated property in Tasmania, where he set up as a self styled lumberjack/wood gatherer while she kept on writing – another bunch of books were written, I kept in touch over the net, incredulous at her output, well I felt like the sloth I probably am, with five toes not two.
Now that chase I promised to cut to, I could sense her desperation, and had said to her on a number of occasions – why don’t you self publish? Well it was an anathema to her, and him, she wanted to be a ‘real’ author, she rather haughtily informed me, so I stopped suggesting the bleeding obvious and instead, over coffee and biscuits, mutually shat on the crappy publishing houses and their dumb arse ideas of literature – well I couldn’t think of anything else to say. OK, I’m a whore, he would come up and fix any computer problems I had, he was an expert in the field. I taught him to swing a golf club – well sort of. How nebulous am I?
We’ve kind of drifted apart in recent times, the last I heard she was still at it, and he’d done his back and was on a walking frame and the local ‘bank’ – once their rather luxurious, trendy home – is now up for sale, sadly without the lyrics of Masters of War in the window – oh well, maybe she’ll be published posthumously, more prolific than Tolstoy, to keep a metaphor in context.
Hey, I feel better already, I’ve done my bloody back in too. Nothing to write home about though.
Well Chris, almost a synopsis for a book. Great letter and am chuffed by your attention. I will go with self publishing, bit by bit. It’s really a bit presumptuous thinking people would be interested in things of the past. The fifties till the seventies have truly and well curdled, but…we shall see.
I have H to give me sound advice and she has already told me to not pave my path with golden bricks, prepare instead for a road paved with gravel at best.
I liked that summation and happily go with that.
Glad you feel better. Are you still ‘on the road?’
I’m firmly back in SA Gerard. Helvi’s advice is very sound. She’s a real brick, as they say. I didn’t raise the William Blake analogy lightly – in my earlier post. You may not know this but Blake shared a sponsor with a fellow artist who was jealous of his talents. Funds that did not go his way were the result of his ‘friend’ telling their esteemed co-sponsor (he had his ear) that Blake was at his best when he painted small – hence there are no large Blake’s in existence, a tragedy considering Blake yearned all his adult career to make much larger paintings. As I said, he made his own books, just a few, and if he hadn’t they would not exist at all. Thank God he did.
The lady in question in my previous (ballerina) post suffered from the illusion that ‘works of significance’ should be published by an official publisher but we know that this is not the case – especially in the current environment where self-publishing is reasonably affordable. As you have stated, even as a labour of love for your immediate family – this is still a most worthwhile project. My father wrote a book as he was dying, about his life (RAF), I think about 20 copies were made, I’ve lent mine out to many people over the years – to serious admiration, respect. I’m glad he did it. I’m thinking about it myself, although more likely poems/anecdotes and illustrations – I’ve already had one go and one if the copies finished up ay a University in Hungary – being studied by MA students. Crazy. Then I turned into an online tutor, for a term. Even crazier.
Yours is a unique view as many participants on your ‘Treats’ have made patently clear. Posterity is a strange beast – it is important you tell the story to get it out, not necessarily a pot boiler – but an actual account that the future will decide on. I have ordered a copy and look forward to the day when it arrives in the mail, when I can hold it in my hands and say, yes – Gerard pulled it off – and the world is better for it. I rest my case.
Helvi may have noticed I am, as of today, writing under a new name on Bob’s blog – no doubt the penny will drop soon enough, meanwhile Kukura and I are having a good laugh. Cheers. ‘DM’.
Yes, Chris. Helvi thought it might be you at Bob’s blog under a new name. She said; ‘there is a new friendly person at Bob’s blog.’
I am now going to edit my proposed book without changing the flow of it. Some sentences seem a bit torturous.