Friday, November 16, 2012

Chugging Along

Monday, November 12, 2012—Long Beach, CA

Long time no write—for all the usual reasons. Mostly what’s been keeping me away from here has been school. I’m at that point in the semester when things start piling up. I’ve just about dug my myself out a deluge of grading. I have another big pile of stuff coming in next week, though. But once I’m thru that I should have a few weeks of relative calm until finals start rolling in. I’m feeling pretty burnt out at the moment, but not to the point of past semesters. Still, I’m looking forward to winter break, to some time to myself, to write, think, and generally get into grooves that don’t revolve around teaching.

A few interesting things have been going on, though. I’ve just signed on to do a reading in Sacramento at the beginning of January. It’s going to be a combo gig with Myler and Starr, S—‘s band. It’s at some coffee shop/bar, which looks like it could be a good venue. It’s been a long time since I’ve read anywhere (about three years now, not since the demise of Acres of Books). Readings aren’t something that interest me all that much these days (maybe because poetry is not something that interests me all that much), but it will be nice to get out there again. It will of course also be cool to do a gig with S—. I’m also looking forward to getting out of the L.A. Basin. The literary culture here, like most other things, largely because of our urban geography, is so fragmented that it might as well not exist. Smaller communities like Sacramento are where one can really connect with a readers on a level other than book sales. I wish I could move someplace like that, someplace smaller and more graspable. I’ve spent years writing about Southern California, as my way of trying to get a handle on this place. I believe I’ve succeeded in this—and I don’t like what I’ve found: a collection of communities that don’t understand each other, that don’t want to understand each other because their inhabitants are either trying to hide from the other, or because they’re so broke that all they have time to do it to work. The rich-poor divide in other words. I want to live someplace that has actual civic conversations. I’m tired of feeling as if I’m doing battle with nearly everything around me …

Been reading a fair bit. I’ve gone thru most of two volumes on Roman Britain and am currently involved in a popular history based around the journeys, of Posidonius, a Greek philosopher (b. around 130 B.C.E., I think) thru some of the then Celtic regions of Europe. I’m also finishing up Dracula (I got a little burnt out on it and put it away from a bit). The second half of it is definitely not as good as the first. The main problem is that it goes on to long, which causes the tension to slacken (a hundred pages could easily be edited out). It’s still a fun book, though, to the point where it’s gotten me interested in reading some more serious work in that general genre and era. I just ordered a copy of The White People and other Weird Stories, by Arthur Machen. I also got other Machen books on my reading list, as well as a couple books by Lord Dunsanay, which I’ve been wanting to get to for a while. Other projects I have on the back burner include increasing my knowledge on European pagan religions and starting George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series (I dig the cheesy TV series made from them and could really use some fat escapist fiction over winter break).

Thinking about my own writing of late as well. I’m doing a little better in accepting my fallow period. Still I have projects on the horizon. They’re really fuzzy, though, broad outlines or in some cases little more than feelings. I like where they’re going, though—because I know I’m where I should be with them. I’ve been thinking about the third Backwaters book too. But I’m still too burnt out on that world to put any work into it.

On the subject of books … My sister got me a Kindle for my birthday. I’m not sure how I feel about the whole e-book world. But I’m interested in checking it out. I’m a little worried that the rise of that world is tied mostly into convenience—having tons of “books” at your fingertips is certainly easier than having to have a big dusty library. But convenience is not the only criteria for a good reading experience, and I get the feeling that e-books will ultimately take away more than they give. I’m trying to go into things with an open mind, though—there’s nothing to lose by giving this new world a try …