Last week it was Sandy. This week an anonymous nor’easter. The power’s been flickering all day, but we haven’t lost it yet (insert the sound of wood being knocked on). Few people are talking about global warming anymore, and if they do it’s usually with a wink and a nudge. Perhaps all this weather is normal, but it does prompt me to think of the warnings that in the wake of global warming local weather would be erratic and extreme. Add that to wars and rumors of wars and I’m starting to think it’s time to break out the sandwich board and a bucket of paint.
For me it is truly the end times since I’m in the process of proofing and correcting a project that I’ve been working on for ten years. Not that I’ve been working on this project for ten years straight and nothing else. No, it’s more like I’ve spent six months working on the project, but spread the work time out over ten years. I wouldn’t recommend that way of working. In fact, I’ll never work that way again (more wood knocking). From now on, I resolve that I will work on one project at a time until I complete the project sufficiently to move on.
I told Peter (during a phone conversation two weeks ago) that I was tempted to chuck all these fractured drafts into the waste bucket and move on. Clinical diagnostics being a specialty of his, especially in the realm of psychological disorder, he was able to identify my affliction as completion anxiety. I / we laughed when he said it. But I’m not sure that anxiety over completion is really the issue, it’s a matter of trying to splice burlap with silk. My writing style has changed in ten years and so I’ve had to come up with a way to patch together a narrative in much the same way a homemaker would patch together a quilt out of scraps of fabric. The result might look like a disorganized mess, but it will be rectangular, and if you lose power, it’ll keep you warm through the night. And I’ve just demonstrated and instance of analogical breakdown.
The diagnosis that I’m suffering from completion anxiety can be refuted by citing the list of books that I have completed. Depending on how you count, (and I’ll confine myself to the works produced since I moved to Long Island), I have completed ten novels, three autofictive works, and a beer guide. So I’m not stranger to completion. That necessarily leads us to the question of publication.
Rasan (amongst others) has insisted that I start submitting my work to publishers. Wise counsel, I’m sure. However there is the question of which publisher to choose. The best course is to pursue a publisher who actually prints books that I read. Given that the bulk of what I read are translated works from New Directions, Dalkey Archive, and Archipelago, I feel like I’m at something of an en passe. I write in English, so these publishers are unlikely to be interested in my work, although Dalkey Archive did publish David Markson’s Wittgenstein’s Mistress. Perhaps there’s hope. Given that I’ve just read Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner, I could add Coffee House Press to the short list. However, I do feel obliged to explore their catalog more deeply before troubling them with a submission.