I Can’t Make You Love Me

GEAUX SAINTS!

So, it’s another chilly Sunday here in the Lost Apartment. It’s sixty degrees now outside, but it dipped into the forties overnight, so it’s going to take awhile for the Lost Apartment to recover–if it ever does. Today I need to pack up for the trip tomorrow morning. I’m not taking the MacBook Air with me, so I am not entirely sure how I’ll be able to crosspost the blog–should I write any entries–to Facebook and other social media because cutting and pasting on the iPad confuses me.

Don’t judge me.

The LSU game last night was a romp; never in doubt from the first snap, and ending with a 42-10 score. It was 28-3 at half-time and was never in doubt. As such, there was very little-to-no tension on my part, so I was able to sit in my easy chair like a millennial, scrolling through apps on my phone while also taking some time to read. I stopped by the Latter Library yesterday to pick up another book I’d reserved (Chariots of the Gods? by Erich von Daniken–more about that later) and also renewed Bibliomysteries Volume 2 for another week. I am taking both books with me to Kentucky, and am also taking A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin; I think it’s time I got started writing A Song of Ice and Fire, now that the end of the television series is in sight with this past week’s announcement that the final season will begin airing in April.

I took yesterday as my day off for the weekend; I didn’t clean anything, nor did I organize or file or edit or write. I was basically just a lazy slug, sitting in my easy chair and flipping between football games while reading. I’m still rereading ‘salem’s Lot but have now reached the end game, the final section of the book called “The Empty Village,” and the tracking down of the vampires concluding with Ben and Mark running away to Mexico while Ben writes his book isn’t as interesting to me as the opening of the book; as I said when I discussed the reread initially, I am more interested in how King depicts the town more than anything else, which was the impetus for the reread. And how much do I love this sentence, which opens section 2, “The Emperor of Ice Cream”:

The town knew darkness.

It’s very Shirley Jackson-esque, and the passage that follows is perhaps my favorite part of the entire book.

I also think I am going to give The Shining  a reread; The Shining is, for most fans, critics and readers, King’s best work. I couldn’t get into it when I first bought the paperback, with the boy’s head with a blank face drawn on a shiny silver cover. I picked it up again a few years later and tore through it in one sitting; but as creepy and horrifying as it was, and how nasty the Overlook Hotel was…it was one of the few I never reread completely. I’ve picked it up and started it again, flipped through it and read sections, but I’ve never read it from beginning to end. I think the complexity of Jack Torrance as a character cut a little too close to home for me, but now that I have over fifty books out there with my name (or a pseudonym) on the spine…I don’t have to be too stressed about the failed author character being too close to home for me anymore.

At least one can hope so.

Tomorrow is the dreaded twelve hour car ride through Mississippi, Alabama, a bit of Georgia, and the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. I need to go get the mail before I leave town and possibly stop by the bank, so I am going to be getting a later start than I would have perhaps wished, but a twelve-hour drive is a twelve-hour drive no matter when you get started, and I am most likely going to shower and go straight to bed when I arrive in Kentucky. I am still trying to figure out what digital book to download and listen to in the car–who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?–but none of A Song of Fire and Ice are available as audiobooks from the library, and the library’s app isn’t as intuitive as I would like (translated: I’m too old to figure out the easiest way to use it). I wanted to start Charles Todd’s brilliant series set during the end of the first world war, but the first book isn’t available from my library (BASTARDS!!!!) and so I have to choose something else. I’ll spend some time on there today–maybe on the library’s website, which is easier for a Luddite like me–and perhaps the second Louise Penny Inspector Gamache novel might do the trick.

Or maybe The Shining. Ooooooh.

Most of today is also going to be spent on odds and ends. I may get some writing work done, or I may not. I think after the Saints game we are going to watch either Love, Simon or Call Me By Your Name; both are available for free streaming on one or another services I pay for now. I also am assuming I’ll finish watching Knightfall while I am in Kentucky, as my parents both go to bed early every night.

And yesterday I also managed to read “The Gospel of Sheba” by Lyndsay Faye, from Bibliomysteries Volume Two, edited by Otto Penzler:

Letter sent from Mrs. Colette Lomax to Mr. A. Davenport Lomax, September 3rd, 1902.

My only darling,

You cannot comprehend the level of incompetence to which I was subjected today.

You know full well I never demand a private dressing room when stationary, as the very notion implies a callous disrespect for the sensitivities of other artists. However, it cannot pass my notice when I am engaged in a second class chamber en route from Reims to Strasbourg. The porter assured me that private cars were simply not available on so small a railway line as our company was forced to book–and yet, I feel justified in suspecting the managers have hoaxed their “rising star” once again. The reek of soup from the dining car’s proximity alone would depress my spirits, even were my ankles not confined one atop the other in a padlock-like fashion.

I do so loathe krautsuppe. Hell, I assure you, my love, simmers with the aroma of softening cabbage.

Lyndsay Faye has twice been nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel (for The Gods of Gotham, which I adored, and for Jane Steele, which is still in my ever-growing and enormous TBR pile), and she is also a delight to know in addition to her enormous gift for writing. Lyndsay is an enormous Sherlock Holmes fan (Sherlockian?), and even her first novel, Dust and Shadow, was a Holmes tale; she recently published an entire collection of Holmes short stories. “The Gospel of Sheba” is sort of a Holmes story; both he and Watson do appear in the story, but it’s primarily told from the point of view of a sub-librarian, Mr. Lomax; he is married to a professional singer who at the time of the story is currently on a tour–her presence in the story is either through her husband’s point of view or epistolary; we get to see occasional letters from her. Her husband’s point of view is seen through diary entries where he talks about the mystery of the Gospel of Sheba, a grimoire a member of a private men’s club with an interest in the supernatural has discovered and that makes anyone who reads it ill. One of the things I love the most about Faye is she writes in the formal style of the nineteenth century, but it always reads as organic and never forced. There’s never a sense from the reader of Oh I see what you’re doing here or from her as the author of see how clever I am? She’s somehow modernized that formal style, breathed fresh life into it, and uses it to help set the mood and the time and the setting. You can almost hear the hiss of gas in the lamps, and see the flickering gaslight. This is a terrific story, and reminds me of why I loved The Gods of Gotham so much, and also reminded me I need to dive back into her backlist.

And on that note, ’tis back to the spice mines with me.

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Free Your Mind

Well, I slept deeply and well last night, only waking up twice–and both times I was able to go back into a lovely, lovely deep sleep. I also didn’t wake up until almost nine. I know, right? It’s so lovely to feel rested.

LSU’s game isn’t on until tonight, but there are some terrific games on throughout the day. I suspect I can finish the floors and cleaning the living room around and during some of these games; I can also get some writing done as well, methinks. I am leaning towards editing some short stories rather than working on the book–yes, I know that will put me two days behind where I want to be with it, but I am also stuck. (And no sooner did I type that, did I come up with a way to start Chapter Four in a way that will help advance the plot somewhat. Huzzah!)

Yesterday, as I mentioned, I stopped at the Latter Library on my way home from work to pick up a book I’d requested on-line, Volume 2 of Otto Penzler’s Bibliomysteries. If you aren’t familiar with the “Bibliomysteries,” these are slightly longer than your average short stories, written by today’s top crime writers, and have to focus or be centered around a book or a bookstore. I first became aware of them when I was a judge for the Edgar Award for Best Short Story a few years ago (maybe more than a few; time has become so fluid and untethered for me–particularly when I realize it’s fucking 2018 sometimes), and in fact we picked John Connelly’s Bibliomystery, “‘The Caxton Lending Library and Book Depository,” as that year’s Best Short Story winner. Since then, I’ve read others–Megan Abbott’s “The Little Men,” Laura Lippman’s “The Book Thing,” Denise Mina’s “Every Seven Years”–and been blown away by their absolute brilliance (which reminds me, I really need to get back to the Short Story Project, which has sadly fallen by the wayside); so I am very excited to read this second collection of these singles; the stories are, you see, originally published as singles–you can buy them as ebooks or you can get a print copy.

I love the library, and was extremely pleased with myself, as Constant Reader is probably already aware, for finally getting my library card. I haven’t had one since I left Kansas in 1981; and even in Kansas I hadn’t used mine for years when we moved. Libraries were very important to me, as a kid and as a teen; I don’t know why I stopped using them–other than the fact that I often lost library books, or forgot to return them on time, which meant fines, which meant lectures from my mother about irresponsibility and on and on and on it went–but I remember the Tomen Branch of the Chicago Public Library fondly; the library on 6th Street in Emporia, and the little library in Americus, as well as when the Bolingbrook Library opened. I often spent time in my school libraries as well as a kid. Stupidly, I suspect I stopped using libraries when I started working and had my own money to buy books with; I loved owning books, always coveted other people’s, and for years was also sentimentally attached to books and didn’t want to get rid of my copies of them. I still am, and I still hoard books, always buying more when I haven’t read all the ones on hand, and I was the same with the library; always checking out more than I could possibly read because I also wanted choices about what to read. I’m looking forward to reading–and reporting back–on the stories in this book I haven’t already read–the Abbott and Mina stories are also inside this collection of them. Writing a Bibliomystery is a bucket-list thing for me; but I will also need to become more important of a writer to be asked.

Last night, as I laundered the bed lines and blankets and coverlets, it took longer for the dryer to dry things then planned–it was damp yesterday, and damp always affects the dryer–so I had to stay up a little later than I wanted to, so I started streaming an 1980’s classic thru Prime: Night of the Comet, starring Robert Beltran, Catherine-Mary Stewart, and Kelli Maroney. I saw this movie in the theater when it was released; it’s not the greatest movie in the world, but it also recognized that it wasn’t a great movie and embraced its camp sensibility. The premise of the movie is this: a comet with an enormous orbit through space is going to pass close by Earth again for the first time in sixty-five million years (hello, dinosaur extinction event!), and of course, it turns into this thing, with comet-watching parties and so forth. Our two leading ladies manage to miss the comet by falling asleep inside of steel–Stewart in the cinema where she works in a steel-walled room for storing film; Maroney in a steel shed in the backyard–and the comet turns everyone into either dust or murderously insane zombies, and they have to survive somehow. Fortunately, the women–sisters–have a father in the military who taught them how to protect themselves. Beltran plays a truck driver (who passed the night inside his truck) they encounter, and eventually team up with for survival. I was just far enough into the movie to get to the part where they run into Beltran for the first time–having already realized most of the world is dead–when the blankets were finished. I also remembered some trivia–Stewart’s big break was being the original Kayla on Days of Our Lives (her replacement became one of the most-loved and popular stars of the show), and Maroney started out playing a manipulative spoiled bitch teenager on Ryan’s Hope. Stewart was also the female lead in a favorite scifi movie of mine from that same period, The Last Starfighter. Both kind of faded away which I always thought was kind of unfortunate–although watching the movie again last night and seeing their performances clearly, it’s really not that surprising.

And Beltran, of course, was part of the Paul Bartel stable, also appearing in Eating Raoul and Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills. Interesting that Bartel’s films, which were kind of the same style as John Waters movies, aren’t remembered or talked about much anymore. (Bartel and his usual female muse, Mary Woronov, also were in another classic from the period, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School–but I don’t remember if Bartel directed that one.)

I may finish watching Night of the Comet at some point today; we shall see how the day goes.

And now, back to the spice mines.

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Just Take My Heart

Hey hey hey, it’s Friday! Constant Reader, we did it again–we made it through yet another week. Huzzah for us! We rock.

The weather is supposed to get down into the fifties over the course of this weekend; it’s been humid and wet most of this week already. Some colder weather is probably overdue, particularly since Thanksgiving is in less than two weeks now.

My troubled sleep patterns continue; I sleep deeply for about two to three hours, wake up, and for the rest of the night go into light sleep with occasional wake-ups. I would dearly love to sleep through an entire night at some point, but luck has simply not been on my side on that account this week. It’s troubling, but I’ve not been sleepy nor tired during the day, so I suppose I am getting rest? It’s workable, though; it’s the dreaded being tired and sleepy all day that bothers me the most about my chronic insomnia.

I wrote another chapter of Bury Me in Satin last night; it’s really bad, if I am being completely honest, but that’s why it’s called a rough draft. The story is taking shape in my head, though, which is kind of nice. I do think this is going to be, as I said, a very rough draft; but I am hoping to get this draft almost 2/3rds finished before I head to Kentucky for the holiday. (I also need to give Royal Street Reveillon another going over, which I am hoping to do whilst in Kentucky as well.)

This weekend LSU is off to Arkansas, and I’m not sure where or who the Saints are playing, but here’s hoping their winning streak continues at least for another week. I have some things to do this weekend; I’m not sure what time I’ll be getting off today. I am working at the main office today, helping them pack since they are moving to the new building on Monday. Also, a book I requested is being held for me at the library–look at me, using my new library card! I’m terribly excited about this, needless to say.

I also need to finalize some short stories for the collection as well. I have decided to pull “Don’t Look Down” and replace it with two others; I am going to rework “Don’t Look Down” and publish it, methinks, as a Kindle single.

And on that note, it’s back to the spice mines.

Have a lovely Friday, everyone.

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When I Look Into Your Eyes

GEAUX SAINTS!

Friday, while running my errands, I decided to finally stop at the Latter Library on St. Charles Avenue and get my goddamned library card. Yes, I have lived in New Orleans for over twenty-two years and had never gotten my library card. I had tried once before but that was when you had to fill out an application. Mine was denied because I used my mailing address rather than my actual home address; I got the denial in the mail and was highly annoyed. Instead of being an adult and thinking, oh, I’ll just swing by another time I never did; even though I have actually been to the Latter Library a gazillion times in the meantime. So Friday I finally did it; and amazingly enough, it’s all automated now. She entered my information into the computer and activated my card and voila, I walked out of there the proud owner of a New Orleans Public Library card.

I am really pleased with myself, which is kind of interesting. As I’ve said before, I’m reading Empire of Sin, and am wanting to do even more research into New Orleans history–and of course, the library card is an important first step for me. Part of this is my desire to write a short story collection called Monsters of New Orleans, which would be my foray into horror; I have some things already written that would work for it, but the majority of the stories would be original and new, and I want to base them in actual New Orleans history. Empire of Sin has been a veritable treasure trove of ideas for me; I am also looking at writing a historical mystery novel set here sometime between 1900 and the 1920’s. Maybe it will end up just being my short story “The Blues Before Dawn,” or maybe it will be a novel called The Blues Before Dawn.

Maybe both. Who knows?

The Saints are playing the unbeaten Rams today; this has not been a good football weekend for me; kudos to Alabama. I don’t see anyone even staying close to them in a game this year; other than possibly Clemson. The lovely thing about LSU being out of contention now means that I don’t really have to commit so thoroughly to watching college football games all day on Saturdays anymore; I’ll only need to watch the Tigers so my Saturdays have suddenly become more free. Ultimately, not a bad thing.

So, GEAUX SAINTS indeed.

One of the funny things about being a football fan is how committed one can become to one’s own superstitions; there are certain LSU shirts I won’t wear during games anymore, and the same with a pair of sweatpants, pictures to use on Facebook, and so forth. I realized how silly this was yesterday–like anything could possibly do has any effect on the outcome of a game, as opposed to the other hundreds of thousands of fans–and wrote down some notes for an essay about how weird being a fan can be; more fodder for The Fictions of My Life.

And yet…I wouldn’t wear my yellow LSU sweatshirt yesterday. I just couldn’t make myself do it.

I realized yesterday as I watched the Georgia-Kentucky game that we are several days into November and I haven’t yet started my unofficial Nanowrimo project, Bury Me in Satin; I intend to rectify that this morning. That extra hour of sleep has me up before eight this morning and feeling rested and inspired; it only took three days to get to this point. I did manage to clean yesterday during football games; I wasn’t terribly committed to watching Georgia-Kentucky, and during the stretches when Auburn was stinking up the field against Texas A&M I also organized and vacuumed and washed clothes, etc. So this morning, the Lost Apartment is relatively–relatively being the operative word–clean and looks nice. But not feeling fatigued this morning is quite lovely, to be honest; I worried I’d have one of my patented lazy moods today, and that is most definitely not the case. I want to get the chapter headings put in for the Scotty so I can get it turned in at long last; I want to get those tweaks done to Survivor’s Guilt and Other Stories done; and of course, I simply have to get started on Bury Me in Satin. I also spent a lot of time reading Empire of Sin yesterday; I am now up to the part about the Axeman, and it’s absolutely riveting, particularly since I want to write a Venus Casanova story called “A Little More Jazz for the Axeman,” which I’ve already started, honestly. I also made some notes in my journal yesterday. Progress comes in all shapes and sizes, and I will embrace any and all of them that I actually experience.

And now, on that note, it is back to the spice mines. I should take full advantage of being wide awake so early in the morning; if I can get all of this stuff finished and done and out of the way before the Saints game, well, more power to me indeed.

And I may even be able to finally finish reading Empire of Sin today at long last–something to help keep my mind off the Saints game.

Have a lovely Sunday, everyone.

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Slow Motion

GEAUX TIGERS!

ESPN’s College Gameday is in Baton Rouge this morning, and tonight Number One Alabama takes on Number Three LSU in Death Valley, aka Tiger Stadium.

This season has already exceeded all expectations for us Tiger fans; I think the best pre-season predictions had us finishing at maybe 7-5, and finishing no higher than fourth or fifth in the SEC West. Tonight, with only one loss, we take on the Alabama juggernaut which has been almost awe-inspiring to watch play all season. There are few teams, in all my years of watching college football, that have been so dominant as Alabama; no one has even gotten remotely close to beating the Tide this year. Their quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, is an unbelievable player; Alabama could probably be competitive in the NFL.

I’ve done a good job of avoiding the hype for the game all week. I’ve made the mistake of getting sucked into this before, and I don’t have the time to bother with it. This past week, according to the hype machine and the newspapers and so forth across the state has been “Hate Bama Week”; I don’t hate Alabama. I have too many friends who went there and/or are fans; I also have family who went there. My distant cousin Gary Hollingsworth–his father and my father are first cousins; I don’t know what that makes us to each other, maybe first cousins once removed, or something like that–was the quarterback for Alabama in 1989 and 1990. (I also know this is all in fun for the most part , but I’ve never enjoyed the taunting or teasing or smack-talk from one fan base to another) My immediate family, and most everyone on my father’s side of the family, are all Auburn fans. I was a kid when Bear Bryant was the coach at Alabama, and I remember their dominance of the SEC in the 1970’s–when their worst season was a three-loss year in 1976. Sound familiar? Alabama’s current dominance began ten years ago in 2008; since then their worst season was a three-loss campaign in 2010. Other than that, I don’t think Alabama has lost more than one game in a regular season in the past eleven years, which is pretty damned impressive. They lost twice in the post-season in 2008 (Florida in SEC title game; Utah in the Sugar Bowl), three games in 2010 (South Carolina, LSU, Auburn), once in 2011 (LSU), to Texas A&M in 2012, Auburn in 2013, lost two years in a row to Ole Miss in 2014 and 2015. They won all their games in 2016, lost to Auburn last year, and are undefeated this year.

You cannot, no matter how badly you want to, deny what Alabama has accomplished under coach Nick Saban, who was 7-6 in his first season in Tuscaloosa–including a loss to Louisiana-Monroe. The next year they rolled into the SEC title game 11-0, and other than 2010, have been a national title contender every year since. That’s a pretty fucking impressive resume, and one that no other college team has even come remotely close to.

LSU hasn’t beaten Alabama since 2011, and hasn’t beaten them in Baton Rouge since 2010.

LSU has slipped since 2011. The Tigers have had some amazing, signature wins since then (Ole Miss in 2014, Georgia this year, to name two) but hasn’t contended for the national or conference championship in those seven years. In 2015 LSU got off to a great 7-0 start, before falling to Alabama in Tuscaloosa and skidding, losing three in a row. This year, the underrated Tigers have somehow managed to be ranked Number 3 in the playoff rankings and 4th in the polls, pulling off a 6-1 start which includes wins over three teams ranked in the Top 10 when they played and another ranked team in Mississippi State. In my wildest preseason dreams, I never would have dreamed we’d ride into Tiger Stadium ranked this high to play Alabama.

To be the best, you have to beat the best, and the best is Alabama. Every national champion since 2008 that is NOT Alabama had to beat Alabama in order to claim the crown (the sole exception being in 2013. Florida State beat Auburn in the closing seconds of the title game to become the only national champion in the last eleven years–LSU was national champion in 2007, and while Alabama wasn’t a contender that year, they still had to beat them–to not have to play Alabama). The dominance of Alabama and Coach Nick Saban is pretty much unparalleled; even the great Bear Bryant didn’t win as many national titles as Coach Saban has–Alabama always seemed to stumble in the post-season under Coach Bryant during the 1970’s, but finally won back to back titles in 1978 and 1979. Bud Wilkinson’s time at Oklahoma in the 1940’s and 1950’s was similar, the Sooners have also had some other periods of enormous success; USC has also had periods of dominance, as has Notre Dame, Michigan, and Ohio State. Florida dominated the SEC in the 90’s; while Florida State and Miami also had great runs in the 80’s and 90’s.

As I said, love them or hate them, you can’t help but admire and respect what Alabama has accomplished, and there’s no end in sight for the foreseeable future to their winning ways.

Of course, I’m hoping LSU can shock the college football world one more time tonight, the same way they did by beating Miami, Auburn, and Georgia. Realistically, I have no idea how this game is going to play out.

But losing to Alabama is kind of like losing to the Patriots, or Serena Williams, or Simone Biles, or Roger Federer. You can only do your best and hold out hope that the breaks go your way; and there’s no disgrace in losing to a great team. I just want LSU to play well.

I grew up rooting for Alabama, and I still do most of the time–just not when they’re playing Auburn or LSU.

And yes, I am the only person in my family who roots for LSU. (My sister, my nieces and nephews are Kentucky fans; they live near Lexington and my youngest nephew and his wife both went there–and they too are having the season of their lives. Today they host Georgia, both teams with one loss, to determine who is going to win the SEC East; and who, before this season, would have dreamed that both Kentucky and LSU, on the first Saturday in November, would essentially be playing for their division titles? NO ONE.)

Even with a loss today, it’s possible for LSU to have its first ten win season since 2011.

I doubt very seriously that LSU won’t be taken seriously in the preseason next year.

GEAUX TIGERS!

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Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad?

Well, it’s Sunday morning and there’s a Saints game today; I will probably ignore it, as my blood pressure and heart can’t really take it, and spend the day continuing to keep my head down and try to plough through all this work I have to get done today.

I got very little done yesterday. I had, despite the good night’s sleep and the good rest I got Friday night, it turned out my batteries were still too low for me to get anything requiring a great deal of thinking and thought done. It’s a shame, and I may not have been wise to spend the day resting and watching television and reading, but it was what my brain and my soul needed. I also refuse to beat myself up for taking me time anymore; I am too old and no longer have the energy and/or wherewithal to work constantly without taking time to refresh and recharge and revisit.

The news of course doesn’t help; the constant sense of outrage and anger at events transpiring in the world every day drains me of a lot of energy. Social media, which used to be a fun way of recharging and seeing what people are up to, has turned into a cesspool of lies, ignorance and weaponized hatred. I refuse to engage with trolls or trollish behavior; my rule of social media has always been if I won’t say it to your face I won’t say it on-line. This, of course, can be intensely problematic because I will say it right to your face. But my energies are best spent elsewhere; hearts and minds cannot be changed or altered through nasty social media battling, and I have neither the patience or energy to waste on lost souls with no capacity for reason or logic or compassion for other human beings.

So, today I am going to get cleaned up, do some chores, and I am going to focus on getting some writing/revising/editing done. I had hoped to be finished with the Scotty revision today, but the end goal of being able to turn it in by November 1 is still a distinct possibility, even by not doing any work on it yesterday. One of my primary concerns, as I may have mentioned, was the fear that I am rushing the revisions on these final chapters in an attempt to get it finished on my self-imposed deadline, and yesterday I also realized that I still have an additional three to four days to get this done by the 1st. There’s no need, absolutely no none, to revise three chapters today when I can actually manage one per day and still finish on time. Stop adding stress and pressure to your life, Gregalicious–it will be done when it is time for it to be done.

I got a copy of Joan Didion’s essay collection Slouching Towards Bethlehem, and dived into it some yesterday while football games played in the background (I have to admit I enjoyed watching Georgia do to Florida what LSU did to them; and that untimed play touchdown for the win by Kentucky over Missouri was amazing–definitely going down in Kentucky lore, which is usually about near-misses and coming close. As it happened, I thought to myself, you know, these are situations where Kentucky used to always lose. Maybe there has been a sea-change in the Bluegrass State; we will see what happens when they host Georgia next weekend). Didion is a great stylist; the way she uses words and creates sentences and paragraphs with an eye for a very telling detail is extraordinary. (I have some issues with Didion and the lens through which she sees things, but despite that lens the way she writes is exceptional. If I ever sit down and write about Alice Bolin’s Dead Girls, I will probably address them at that time.) And as with any writer who is truly terrific, reading her words made me think about my own, and gave me some thoughts.

As I said at the time, reading Bolin’s Dead Girls made me start thinking about my own essays; I’ve written quite a few over the years, and of course, as my friend Laura points out to me, my blog is essentially me writing a daily personal essay. I don’t know if I ever say anything truly earth-shattering or profound; I don’t think of myself as a great thinker, or being particularly perceptive and incisive in my points of view on many subjects. My intellect–and my ability to write essays–are still things I don’t have a lot of confidence in; thank you, public education and land grant colleges for making me insecure about these things. One of the myriad of reasons I started writing this blog back in December of 2004 on Livejournal was because I wanted to write about things no one would pay me to write about; to share my observations of the world, society, politics, and culture through the lens of a gay man in a highly homophobic world; it was also why I wrote about gay characters and themes in my fiction. My writing, by virtue of my lavender lens, is always going to be somewhat political; despite my privilege as a white man I still didn’t hit the privilege trifecta of straight white male, and while the privilege of being white male is still much better than any other variation of that, gay also negates a great deal of that.

I had originally, and always thought, that if I ever wrote about the Virginia experience, it would be an entire book, which I always jokingly called, to myself, Gay Porn Writer, because that was the way I amused myself throughout the entire banning experience–laughing about me being described in so many newspapers and angry emails and complaints as “gay porn writer Greg Herren.” Over the years since all that nonsense, and over the last few years in particular, I realized that isn’t enough material to write an entire book around, and realized I needed, if I was ever going to write about that experience, another hook. I thought about extrapolating that happening to me in 2004 with the changes in publishing and society since then; but it was always kind of amorphous. I thought maybe using that experience as a jumping off spot to talking about race, gender, and sex might be a great idea. Realizing that the Virginia experience was the basis for a personal essay, a long one, to be added to a collection of other essays I’ve written as well as others I could write, that I could write about my life and my experience and call the collection Gay Porn Writer: The Fictions of My Life was probably the best way to do this, and more workable than simply trying to piece together a non-fiction narrative about how gay work is seen as porn by so many homophobic people because the very word gay makes them think about sucking cock or butt fucking.

And I’ve written so much! I had no idea how much non-fiction I’ve actually done in my career; how many author interviews, how many book reviews and fitness columns and whatever else may have you I’ve written and published over the years.

One of the things I did do yesterday around the laziness was start writing down essay titles I remember having written in my journal, in order to start searching through files and computer drives for them, to put them all into one easily accessible folder for me in the future…which also startled me; I remembered so many, and there are probably many more that I don’t remember. But that’s one of the chores I’ve assigned myself today; start pulling those together. I know my essay from Love, Bourbon Street, about Katrina and the evacuation, is rather lengthy and would have to be the anchor to the book.

And now, back to the spice mines. Have a lovely Sunday, Constant Reader.

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Wildside

Well, Monday has yet again rolled around, and I am staring down yet another work week.

The weather changed again yesterday–it was in the low sixties when I woke up–so there is hope now that perhaps fall has actually, finally, arrived in the Crescent City. I don’t mind the heat, but I do get weary of it by October–particularly when it’s late October and usually it starts cooling down in mid-September. I’m choosing not to look further ahead in the weather forecast; if it’s going to get unseasonably warm for us again, I’d rather not know ahead of time.

I got another short story rejection the other day; the masochism of being a writer is kind of like when you have an aching tooth and you can’t stop irritating it with your tongue. It was a lovely rejection–something I’ve noted lately from markets I’ve submitted to has been the return of the lovely, well-worded, take the sting out of it rejection emails. I no longer get angry or depressed or wounded when a story is rejected; as a long time anthology editor myself I know what the process is like and rejection doesn’t necessarily, if ever, mean you really suck at this do us all a favor and stop, okay? It is what it is. I continue to try to write the stories I want to write, say the things I want to say, figure out what it is I want to figure out, with each and every story I write. Sometimes the longer a story sits without being finished, or without being revised, is better. I had another couple of thoughts yesterday, for example, for “Never Kiss a Stranger” that I think are going to be key to making the story richer and deeper, more powerful to read, and hopefully connect with potential readers better. I’m glad I’m not rushing this story, but letting the characters and the time live with me a while is helping me to know them better and is turning the story into something much better than I’d originally envisioned for this tale.

And that’s a lovely, lovely feeling.

I opted not to watch the Saints game. The LSU game on Saturday evening was enough stress for me to voluntarily take on over the course of a single weekend; I chose to have s relaxing day of getting things done and cleaning up little chores I tend to put off; making the house more neat and tidy always helps clear the cobwebs from my brain and allows me to free-associate; I make lots of notes and also identify problems in stuff currently in progress that I hadn’t thought of or noted before.

(Okay, I did tune in for the last two minutes of the game. I mean, wow. Seriously, Saints? WOW. I swear, both the Saints and LSU will be the death of me this season.  A missed extra point sealed the win? Oh, my heart…

I am savoring my reread of ‘salem’s Lot, taking it slowly so I can get to know the characters and the setting all over again; enjoying how King builds his slow burn of a novel and sets everything up for the heart-pounding non-stop tension of the second half of the book.

I was also thinking that October is here, and usually I pay tribute to the books and movies and short stories in the horror genre that I’ve enjoyed and have had some kind of influence on me, as both a reader and a writer. And here it is, with only ten days left in the month and I have yet to even acknowledge October and horror; despite having watched (and greatly enjoyed) The Haunting of Hill House this month.

This coming weekend is the bye week for LSU before the Alabama game, so I will be at loose ends on Saturday. I do want to watch the Georgia-Florida game–crucial to determine who will win the SEC East–but other than that, with no LSU game to watch I will most likely have to entertain myself in other ways on Saturday; which means perhaps going to the library at long last and finally getting a New Orleans Public Library card–something I’ve been intending to do for a very long time. The Latter Library on St. Charles is very close to my post office; I can simply make a quick detour there after picking up the mail on Saturday and get my card. The Latter Library is, if you are not acquainted with it, one of the most beautiful libraries I’ve ever seen. It’s housed in an old St. Charles mansion, which supposedly is not only haunted but was at one time home to a silent screen star–but it also has an enormous plot of land., taking up an almost entire block of St. Charles.

And now, back to the spice mines. I have a lot to get done this week, as the end of October looms large on the horizon.

Have a great day, Constant Reader!

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