Someone was watching me, or was I mistaken? I took a couple of steps to the side and turned away to take a picture. Damn! No, there she was, a short, thin 60-ish woman with curly gray hair and a big rain hat, circling around to peer back at me. It wasn’t raining. I stared at the mountains and pretended not to notice. (No eye contact! No eye contact!)
“Excuse me,” she said, manuevering under my nose. “Do you live here?”
“Well, did you—um, what’s your name?”
“Uh, John… John Farr.”
“Oh yes. I thought so. You coordinated the writers series one year. But… did you move away?”
“Uh, no. But I’ve been keeping kind of a low profile.”
“And your name is?”
“Well my full name back when I gave you the manuscript—[edit, edit, edit]—and it was supposed to be published—[edit, edit]—and I never heard anything—[edit, edit, edit]—and…”
Ahhh, it was all coming back. Yes, what was it, 11 or 12 years ago? I was taking submissions for a writers series—one of those things where different authors give readings every week—and she’d driven out to my house to hand-deliver a channeled manuscript. That’s right. She hadn’t composed it herself, the entity did. Now, understand that I’m perfectly comfortable with this in the real world. I get things channeled to me all the time. Every word I write pops into my head from somewhere, yes? So as far as I’m concerned, this happens. But while I was down with taking dictation from the spirit world, this entity needed to keep its day job. I never had to sell it to the board. How many other books had the entity written, had the entity ever won any awards, did the entity know any rich potential donors, and so on. Never came up.
But now I agreed with everything she said. Sympathetic, nodding, making no suggestions. The conversation petered out and there she stood. A longish moment followed. Then a faraway dirigible caught my eye—I hadn’t seen one like that since 1933 and had to get a better look! I moved a couple a steps over to the right and fiddled with my camera.
“Oh—bye…” she said and wandered off, in the manner of someone who didn’t quite get what she wanted. I wondered if I had her confused with someone else. What was this “supposed to be published” thing?)
Either way I had it covered though, so that’s okay.
thts is ths tao
You a-rockin’, Clockman!
Well done, sir. I have noticed lately that keeping mum keeps the peace. Older maybe does become wiser. Also, I have noticed a Big Change in attitude with the passing of your mother.
Though a realist about most things, I’m idealistic about good writing. If the words don’t sing, then, as a poet once said, “there are things more important than all this fuss”. Maybe this poor soul has or had a few singing words in her, and, even if she didn’t, the aspiration itself was a worthy one.
I could imagine a person who spent a lifetime writing and gathering rejection notices who might, maybe just once and maybe just partially, have put together harmonious words, sentences and paragraphs. It’s a pity, but those words will likely die. Sometimes even the author of a single great book – a one-hit wonder – will be forgotten and his words will die, at least for a while. Though most beautiful solo books will be rediscovered. The greatest WWII novel was “The Gallery”, but the author is someone you’ve never heard of (John Horne Burns). You may never have heard of the novel itself, though it was widely praised in its day. The problem was that Burns never wrote anything important thereafter and died in his late 30’s, possibly a suicide, but maybe he just drank himself to death for failure to ever again hit his stride as a writer.
None of this matters. What matters is the beautiful words, which torment and elude us.