12 Winters Blog

More Ulysses, progress on Men of Winter

Posted in May 2010 by Ted Morrissey on May 23, 2010

I’ve been reading “The Wandering Rocks” section of Ulysses and enjoying it very much.  I especially appreciate Joyce’s overlapping of images and micro-incidents to tie together otherwise disparate scenes.  Also, the language play, especially in the scenes centering on Stephen Dedalus, is breathtaking.  I frequently stop, go back, and re-read sentences and whole paragraphs, etc., in pure wonderment at what Joyce has managed.  Case in point:  Joyce writes, “She dances in a foul gloom where gum burns with garlic.  A sailorman, rustbearded, sips from a beaker rum and eyes her.  A long and seafed silent rut.  She dances, capers, wagging her sowish haunches and her hips, on her gross belly flapping a ruby egg” (p. 241 1990 Vintage International edition).  The word “seafed” is a good example, too, why one must pay close attention when reading; it’d be easy to misconstrue it as some sort of verb, when it’s actually a fairly straight forward adjective, like sea-fed, as in fed by the sea.  The hyphen would help, but gods bless Joyce for not giving us one there.  I’ve always liked compound words, like seafed, but I’ve found most editors are very uncomfortable with them.  When my story “Communion with the Dead” was published in The Chariton Review, the production editor broke apart several of my compound words, for examples, making “bluelight” into “blue light” and “steppingstone” into “stepping-stone.”  I stated my preferences but left the final version up to her (it was the first story I’d had published in sometime, thanks in large part to focusing on my doctoral studies, so I was just grateful to get something in print again and didn’t feel especially combative over it).  She opted in just about every case for the more conventional spellings.  I hope to publish a collection of stories eventually, and I figure I’ll set things as I’ve always wanted them in that volume.  I’ll need to turn away from Joyce for a couple of days as I’m teaching The Blacker the Berry (1929)  by Wallace Thurman in my African-American literature class, and I’ll need to spend some quality time with the text.

On the Men of Winter front, the publisher is moving forward with it and has assigned an editor and graphic designer to my book.  I was contacted by the graphic designer, Julie McAnary, yesterday.  After checking out her website, I’m especially pleased and excited that she’s been assigned my cover.  I had roughed out an idea for the cover using Word, but I’m also quite open to her developing some cover designs as well (again, especially since looking at her work online).  In the past, when designing A Summer’s Reading and Quiddity, I’d used Quark and then Adobe InDesign, but I no longer have access to either software so I wasn’t able to pull my cover idea together in the way I imagine it — but that’s all right: I’m comfortable with Julie’s handling the work and am looking forward to seeing what she comes up with.

Meanwhile, I continue to work on The Authoress.  I’m in a section that is especially challenging, as the narrator is observing multiple frenetic things happening at once.  I know it will require much work, much writing and rewriting, to get right — but that’s the fun of it.  I enjoy sitting down with a draft and going through it with the proverbial finetooth comb, adding and taking away and rewording.  I’ve always found that when I revise I almost always add (and reword).  Very rarely do I feel that I’ve overwritten a section; my journalistically bred barebones style tends to make my first drafts under- rather than overcooked.  My academic year is all but over (save for the African-American lit class, which runs to the end of June), so I’m chomping at the bit to get to writing and working on The Authoress in summertime earnest.

“Walkin’ the Dog” has been taken by Spilling Ink Review and will be included in the journal’s inaugural issue, which is supposed to be out June 1 (very fast turn around, but that’s one of the advantages of epublishing).  I’m very pleased and impressed with their website, and look forward to seeing what they do with my story.  SIR, which is edited by Amy Burns, will also publish an annual anthology in print, but not with everything that’s been online.  With the publication of “Walkin’ the Dog” I’m out of stories; I’ve published every story I’ve written (well, every one since I finished my master’s and had something of a clue as to what I was doing) — which is a sort of odd feeling.  I’m so used to looking for outlets and sending off stories (and receiving rejection after rejection before someone says yes), it’ll be strange not to go through that process:  But I’m not complaining. tedmorrissey.com

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