Saturday, August 30, 2014

Late Summer Paranoia



 There is nothing quite like waiting until the very last moment to do the monthly update, is there?
This past month has been all about getting the Festival I keep referring to up and running. Even with two of us doing the work, it has been a handful. This has nothing to do with the authors, themselves, who have been nothing but lovely, or with the various managers and customer service reps. No, it has to do with nerves. As my co-director said, what if we throw a party, and no one comes? Worse, what if they come, but don’t like it? This has been the main worry. Festivals like this only occur through grants, and while the granting institutions have been incredibly supportive, they still expect some bang for their buck, so to speak.
I hope that we’re giving them not only what they expect, but more.
I can’t help but think, with a little bit of jealousy, if I’m honest, that I’d like to be invited to a thing like this or two. Don’t get me wrong—I’m happy where I’m at. Coming into contact with authors on major imprints, I have heard horror stories about what life can be like when one makes it to what they refer to as “mid-list” or higher. I believe in the mission of the small press, and as I keep saying over and over and over, I like how gutsy small presses can be with their choice of material. Still, I’d love to be able to say, “Oh, I’m sorry, I won’t be in town this weekend, I’m giving a craft talk in Lexington,” or something to that effect, every now and again.
Then I think about having to get on a plane to do so, and it’s “nevermind.”
The next-to-last-draft of the third book is done. I want to give it one more onceover after I get this festival completed, and then I will ship it off to Rebel. As I’ve said many times before, so strange to be in this place. I’ll save the full self-indulgent-melancholy-reflection for next month, assuming I stay on schedule with that drop-off.
Philip K. Dick, as you know, is one of my literary heroes, and I model a lot of my career goals after him. The interesting thing is, though, as much as I love his work, I have never really delved that deeply into one of the most defining aspects of his life, his Exegesis. Last month, when I took that impromptu drive to the nearest Barnes and Noble (some 2 ½ hours away), I found this book in the remaindered section and bought it immediately; The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick


So, that is what I've been slogging though with varying degrees of pleasure and frustration for over a month, now. VERY interesting stuff. Apparently, according to the introduction, many have tried to assemble some coherent whole from the pounds and pounds of notes on handwritten and typed pages that he left behind attempting to write down his thoughts on life, the universe, and everything, after his kind-of-but-not-really-at-all Damascan experience during the period of February through March of 1974. Utterly fascinating stuff. What it proved, though, to me, about my own interests, is that I am drawn to writers who are convinced that there is another world that exists within this one, and that we would only see it if our senses were attuned enough (what those of us who don’t have those senses pathologize as “paranoia”)—J.G. Ballard, Philip K. Dick, William S. Burroughs, Chuck Palahaniuk, Dennis Cooper, etc. It reflects in my own work, too, I think.

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