Larry McMurtry, Beverly Cleary, and Why I Am Not Writing a Newsletter...
This evening has led me to consider a lot of things. What a last few months it has been, I have to say; when we begin to think there is light at the end of the tunnel, we find there is still far to go.
Let me come across these varied subjects, and others. First, my occupation on several fronts has kept me from blogging, and doing the ridiculous and pointless exercise of a newsletter.
Don't get me wrong--I have friends who write wonderful, to the point, and eloquent newsletters. Tess Enterline, Jyssica Schwartz, Eileen Obser and others do lovely ones, they are at times entertaining, but also insightful.
I have tried a couple of times to do them; but the software and set-up is long, tedious, and I do not feel I'm really doing anything that I cannot do in this blog, or in a post that works for me.
I suppose I am not a patient person at times, and that has a lot to do with it. It is easier to map out an entire book than it is to put one of those together. My efforts at digital journalism are a similar, painful and rather pathetic looking display of my analog expertise.
Here is the thing: my work the past few months, and also the ongoing battle to get my house repaired has taken priority. The roof has been fixed, and is perfect. The inside, well, that remains a battle that I cannot seem to even get started. Insurance companies, not knowing where things are, what page anyone else is on, and the inability to get a straight fucking answer out of anyone is what I deal with.
At the same time, not much has changed; my life remains chaotic beyond measure, both inside and out.
Now, I don't have a picture reveal yet, but...
That should get your attention. Yes, we're down to the final word thing with "Call it Love," the sequel to "Searching for Roy Buchanan," available at SunburyPress.com, Amazon, and other fine places online...and if you like, hit up a bookstore and order it...please.
That's the next thing. Trying to prepare for the next campaign, not sure when the book will be ready, when the cover will be, when everything will fall into place.
Still waiting on events, due to Covid. I may not have an event till the fall, in person, but let us see how the vaccination goes.
I got the first portion of the Moderna vaccine Tuesday. The mass site in Lancaster was very well set up, awesomely and professionally run, and I was in and out of there in little time. But that shot kicked my ass. A day of feeling in third gear, very tired, and achy like I had the flu. I've been warned part two is worse, and prepare for a couple days off.
So yeah...trying to find myself again to get the book ready, get my materials ready, get myself out there and online to do all of this. When you feel you have no support beyond that circle of friends, and you are in a sea of authors, many of which you are as good as or better, it is a difficult thing.
But I've decided: what comes out, I must be proud of. I know what I want it to do, how I want it to sell, and how I want it to get into the hands of those who don't know me (yet), I think it may be further steps down the road, not what we have here.
Then came in quick succession, the passing of two authors, both of whom shaped my reading, and my writing.
How they go...first, from my readings in grade school, Beverly Cleary has passed, at 104. My first recollections were of Henry Huggins and his adventures, those of his dog Ribsy, and his friends Beezus and Ramona.
I never fell terribly in love with them; I thought Henry was a well meaning dolt, even at his young age. The characters Cleary created, though, were, to use a word we hear too often, but it's apt..."relateable."
Cleary noted in an interview on NPR (the story is up) some years ago with Linda Wertheimer that as a librarian, kids often asked where the books were about children like them? Cleary realized there were few to no kids' books about regular, normal kids who did normal things.
My dad had a Big Little Book of "Reg'lar Fellas," which followed a boy named Jimmie and a motley collection of friends, who were exactly that. I knew them; I knew these boys and girls, and Cleary set out to do just that in the bigger books.
Did she ever; Cleary created characters based on the people she knew, and wrote in a very straight-up style, but not a patronizing one. We have found in recent years, just what some of those kids were trying to tell us, about ourselves.
Then, Larry McMurtry. Damn.
Another NPR story; McMurtry passed last night at 84. He saw the lives of the cowboys before him in his family, and his writings, of course went beyond the ones we think of.
"Straight Outta Lonesome Dove" is a line Joe Ely put in a song called "Saint Valentine," and I confess, I stole it for a character in "Call it Love." McMurtry wrote screenplays, TV shows, and yes, books.
To me, "The Last Picture Show" is likely the finest of the great American novels. Every goddamned high school student, no matter where they go, should read it.
It is a minimalist, "He said," "She said," style, but it tells any story. McMurtry wrote four novels in the series which "Picture Show" began, and it ended with "Rhino Ranch." I admit, I couldn't get into one in between, and I don't even know the title of the other--but the first and last, are amazing.
So many others, like "Terms of Endearment." But...one of his autobiographies, "Books," is worth telling of.
McMurtry's writing method is simple: all his career, he wrote five pages a day. That's it. The rest of the day, he ran his bookshop, and went looking for book collections.
In 2012, McMurtry sold half his stock. And he still had 200-thousand books in the store. Let Midtown Scholar top that.
He also had a son, James, who is a brilliant singer-songwriter, with a style all his own. Album after album, stories of gritty, desperate, dangerous and twisted characters. "Too Long in the Wasteland," "Childish Things" and "Complicated Game," amazing works.
But yes, two giants of the literary world on the same day. Musically, we have bemoaned the loss of music legends, and to borrow a phrase, who's gonna fill their shoes?
That's us. We do it by writing, putting our work out there, and not quitting. I don't give a shit if I don't have a major hit anymore. Each story I have has value; it can be more than a book, it has an "IT Factor."
Sorry two greats have left us, but it's our job to step up and keep writing, keep telling our stories to the best of our ability, and make shit happen.
Back at it, I go.