Acres of Perhaps #12 - May 2, 2021
I’m not sure if “painter’s elbow” is a thing, but the last few weeks of painting four rooms in our house is making it hard to lift my right arm.
(Oh, wait: it is a thing, grouped in with tennis elbow.)
We’ve lived in our house for thirteen years, oddly afraid of doing much to change things. We kept the same light brown walls that the last owner slapped on every surface to sell the house, and only nibbled away at other projects to keep our 1927-built house from sliding into a tarn like the House of Usher.
I’ve told myself for years that I’m terrible at home improvement, and I guess whoever buys this house again someday will be the ultimate judge. What’s funny about home improvement, though, is that you’re only bad at it if you give up too soon, leaving ragged edges or crooked lines or loose boards.
If you keep going and refining, eventually you’re at least good at whatever project you’re doing.
Maybe that’s a metaphor for something.
Five Interesting Things
In a surge of 80s nostalgia, I wrote a series of blog posts about growing up with computers that didn’t connect to anything but your mind. I wrote about how the TI-99/4A was my gateway to computing, and how I learned persistence from the TRS-80 Model III, and how the Commodore 64 inspired my ingenuity, and how the Apple II+ made me an amateur scientist, and how the Apple //c kicked off my writing. I wrote about the weird outliers of the Commodore SX-64 and Amiga 500 that may have been too clever for their own good. And I wrote about how the PS/2 and Macintosh labs in college set up my vacillating loyalties that persist even today.
If you don’t think people are taking this pandemic seriously enough, you’d probably have an ally in Ray Bradbury. The 1918 influenza epidemic struck his family hard and it haunted him all the way to the end of his life.
Barbara Newhall Follett, a published prodigy novelist at 12 in 1926, disappeared not long afterward in 1939 after an argument with her husband. Her remains were never found…unless they were and simply mistaken for someone else’s.
If you’re still ambitious after solving Follett’s final moments, here’s a list of unsolved deaths to keep you busy afterward. Some of those Iron Age ones have probably gone cold.
I run, bike, or walk almost every single day, and I’ve recently stopped listening to music during the walks because it used to trap my thoughts in a repeating track. It turns out that other writers liked to walk, too.
What I’m Working On
Now that I’m producing my twelfth newsletter, it occurs to me that one of the reasons you may subscribe to this thing is to find out what I’m working on creatively. Or, at least, to be warned.
Yes, I am still writing things other than nostalgia blog entries about the Commodore 64. I’m just weirdly embarrassed to talk about my creative work, maybe because I’m afraid of jinxing it, or making commitments I won’t live up to, or seeming pretentious and amateur by flailing my arms for attention.
But again, you’ve subscribed to this.
I’m about 10,000-ish words into something that will likely end up being a novella (20,000 words+). It’s a story that has lurked on the edges of my consciousness for about ten years when it was a novel draft that was rejected with such vehemence by a couple of agents that I assumed it was a waste of time.
Now it’s back with all new words but the same central concept (I’ll simply say it’s Scout-related), and I’m not stretching this arbitrarily into a novel again because “that’s what sells.”
You know what sells? Pretty much nothing, unless you’re lucky. And I’d rather be (un)lucky with a story that’s the length it’s supposed to be.
Am I enjoying the work? Sort of, because this is the stage when everything feels messy and unfinishable, like most of my home projects.
This story, though, feels like something I have to finish before going on to anything else, like a couch stuck in a stairwell during a move.
This photo of me lugging my crap after a Boy Scout campout is basically what it feels like to be working on this novella.
Thank you for your continued interest in my work! I’m deeply grateful for it.