Since earning a thirty day ban from Facebook yesterday because of the horror of posting pictures of sexy men in their underwear, I’ve decided to make lemons from this lemonade and start exploring other options of social media. Obviously, Facebook is one of the bigger ones; but I also am on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr; so why NOT explore those options and expand my following on those sites? So, thank you, fascist homophobic sexist Nazis at Facebook; you’re making me do something I wouldn’t ordinarily do, and at the same time, you might even be rendering yourself obsolete in the world of one Gregalicious.
Well done there, Facebook. Seriously.
Although these other social media platforms are…a little confusing.
As I said, my great experience over the weekend doing panels at Comic Con has kind of invigorated me; I am getting back down to serious writing again, and my creativity is raging out of control. I think that part of it has to do with keeping a physical journal again; I can’t believe how much of a difference it is making having it with me at all times, and I certainly can’t believe I stopped carrying one with me at all times. I don’t even remember when it was that I did stop carrying one, to be honest. I was talking to another writer this weekend–Bryan Camp, whose debut novel The City of Lost Fortunes will be out this April, and I read an early draft, which was fantastic; I can only imagine how good it is now–and was talking about how much the business had changed, and how quickly it happened. I sort of knew what I was doing the first few years, and then came the Time of Troubles, which derailed me for several years…and when I really got my head back in the game, everything about the business had changed. There were ebooks and bookstores and newspapers were disappearing; magazines that used to review were gone or on their way out the door, Insightoutbooks was phasing out…it seemed like every time I was trying to adapt to something new something else changed, or the new thing was no longer a thing, and social media had become to go-to for marketing; although now it was being called branding. I’m still not completely comfortable with that term; I don’t like thinking of my books as product or of myself as something akin to Tide and Coca-Cola and Folger’s. But I suppose it does make sense from a business perspective; publishing is a business, and the idea is to move units, just like liters of milk and loaves of bread and cans of creamed corn.
But that doesn’t mean I have to like it, does it? Sigh.
Yesterday I read a short story by Truman Capote, from Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Four Other Stories. It was called “A Diamond Guitar.”
The nearest town to the prison farm is twenty miles away. Many forests of pine trees stand between the farm and the town, and it is in these forests that the convicts work; they tap for turpentine. The prison itself is in a forest. You will find it there at the end of a red rutted road, barbed wire sprawling like a vine over its walls. Inside, there live one hundred and nine white men, ninety-seven Negroes, and one Chinese. There are two sleep houses–great green wooden buildings with tarpaper roofs. The white men occupy one, the Negroes and the Chinese the other. In each sleep house there is one large pot-bellied stove, but the winters are cold here, and at night with the pines waving frostily and a freezing light falling from the moon the men, stretched on their iron cots, lie awake with the fire colors of the stove playing in their eyes.
Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood is one of my favorite books, and it’s partly because he is so poetic, so charming, a writer in his word choices and the way he describes things. It always cracks me up when people tell me they love Breakfast At Tiffany’s because it’s clear they’re talking about the movie and not the Capote novella it was loosely based on; the novella is actually really dark and sad, as most of Capote’s work is; even if he didn’t always write about the south, he was very much of the Southern Gothic school of writers. In the novella Holly is basically an escort who’s looking for a sugar daddy–and so is her neighbor, the guy telling the story; he’s not George Peppard and he doesn’t fall in love with her because he’s gay, escorting and also looking for a sugar daddy; they bond in friendship over that similarity.
This story, “A Diamond Guitar,” is short and very poetically written; many Southern prisons are referred to as ‘farms’ and the prisoners work with the money from the sweat of their labor going to the prison (and usually siphoned off by someone). The story is about a convicted murderer, known in the story only as Mr. Schaeffer, and it tells the story of the only friend Mr. Schaeffer ever had in the prison, a beautiful young Cuban boy named Tico Feo. Tico brings the diamond studded guitar into the prison with him; the two men become friends–but not lovers; Capote is very clear that they are close as lovers but there is nothing physical between them; and finally Tico decides he wants to escape and he wants his friend to come with him. Tico does manage to escape, but Schaeffer does not; he trips and breaks his ankle and is left behind–it’s never clear whether this accident was actually deliberate or not, but it’s clear Schaeffer doesn’t really want to escape. But without hid only friend, Schaeffer closes himself off from everyone else in the prison, and under his cot he keeps the diamond guitar. The diamonds, of course, are just glass; just like Tico, everything about the guitar is phony.
It’s a really lovely little story.
And now, back to the spice mines.