Monday, May 19, 2014

Where I'm Calling From: a scattershot update from the writer

No, not from Raymond Carver, but from me. After all the fuss with reading Chernyshevsky and Dostoyevsky and then Chekhov (and then even more Chekhov), I have decided to take up as my next long-form writing project an idea I have had for a couple of years: a book of connected short stories centered around the fictional Antosha Chekhonte, a character loosely based on Anton Chekhov, medical doctor turned famous writer and playwright. I do not usually enjoy writing short stories, but I've discovered that to write Chekhovesque stories about a character based on Chekhov himself is a delightful pastime and even, I dare say, artistically rewarding. Readers might differ with that last opinion, but I'm sure happy with the two stories I've penned so far, and equally happy with the plans I have for three or four more stories. One of them will be more like a novella (that's the "Chekhov meets Kafka in Prague" story I have mentioned briefly here on this blog). Anyway, that's the new project chez Bailey.

Meanwhile, for those of you keeping score, I am typing up changes to my novel Mona in the Desert so that I can print the whole thing out yet again and revise it once more before, maybe, letting some folks read it and seeing if I feel like querying literary agents to represent it. I have mixed feelings about that, because I don't know if I know of any American literary agents who are representing any authors I actually like these days. One is not supposed to say those sorts of things publicly, but let's call a rabbit a hare, shall we? And why not?

I continue to query agents regarding my wonderful novel Go Home, Miss America. I can't seem to get the sense of the book into a query letter. Also, it's a novel of faith, as they say these days, about sainthood. That makes it a difficult sell, I'm sure.

Whenever I manage to shift myself and do the work, I'm going to be submitting the postmodern mystery novel The transcendental detective to a publisher. I am feeling quite short on time these days, so I keep forgetting to do that. It's not a lot of work, but it's something I keep not making time for.

What else? After I finish the volume of Chekhov stories I'm currently reading, and then finish the last 80 pages of Gargantua and Pantagruel (at last!), I'll be reading Weymouth Sands by John Cowper Powys. I have high expectations of weirdness. Pykk's posts about Powys have been quite intriguing (click the link in the sidebar to her blog, you). In other news, I might make this a Summer of Melville, reading Typee, Pierre, The Confidence Man and returning to the glorious Moby-Dick. We'll see. The best-laid plans go down the whirlpool with the Pequod, as they say. Spoiler, sorry.

8 comments:

  1. Oh, I wish I had even a smidgeon of your energies and ambition. I wish you much success in all your ventures. As for myself, I am grinding out the job search letters to all sorts of colleges and universities. Perhaps I will even think about going to China. I think they need teachers there. Oh, but I wonder if my digestive and respiratory systems could stand it. Well, in the meantime, I will continue to visit your blog and follow your adventures.

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  2. Hah! I have less in the way of energy and ambition than I have of habit. I am in the habit of writing fiction, and reading fiction. In other areas of my life I am a slothful and sleepy slothlike sloth. Also shiftless, often. But I keep grinding out the work, I guess. It is what I do.

    Good luck with the job search.

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  3. If the job search goes international, I will not include any country wherein my wife would have to wear a burka, give up driving, and follow discretely behind me everywhere she goes.

    As for habit, that is perhaps even better than energy and ambition. Flannery O'Connor was quite satisfied with a certain "habit of being" for her life and work. If it is good enough for her, then it is . . . (well, you finish the thought in whatever way works for you) . . .

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  4. There will be weirdness, I promise, unless your weirdness threshold is very high, which it might be.

    I had a longer post here until I accidentally deleted it, but the short version states that "something I keep not making time for" has been my bugbear too, for a while now, and that this kind of procrastro-stymieing is not trivial.

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    1. I'm betting that Powys' particular types of weirdness will be new to me. The stuff about persistence of identity and emotion, the stuff about filth, about what is seen and by whom and how, all of that. The inner realism whelming up into the outer realism, if I'm not totally misconstruing what he was doing. We'll see, I guess.

      I have some serious anti-procrastination to do this week, or at least by the end of this month. Good luck to both of us.

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    2. I've never come across anything else like him. I can say, "Just here, where this character's doing something, he's probably thinking of Rabelais," and "That piece of description reminds me of Hardy," but I don't know anyone that he's like.

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  5. You have so much going on! Of course, I'm most excited for Mona, but that's because I haven't read it yet and the mystery is enthralling. Keep writing. Keep reading. That's what we do. Right?

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    1. You will see Mona soon, I promise. Yes, read, wright, rinse and repeat. That's the life!

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