Yesterday in the ochre light of late afternoon on the first day of Standard Time, I put a bottle of Bushmills in my backpack and walked up to the East Village Magazine office to proofread my November column. There the indefatigable Gary Custer was hard at work amidst his rock piles of old issues and abandoned out of date computers. (It's a good thing we don't have earthquakes around here -- Gary would be at risk of getting buried alive by his own opus). His bike was propped against one of the piles: Gary leaves a very small carbon footprint. His remarkable beard was even bushier than usual and his concentration was finely honed. From the crammed back room an announcer called a football game. Cheers periodically erupted. Gary cleared a spot on a table and brought me a cup for my bracing two fingers -- he declined to join me, preferring to keep a clear head until the mag goes to press. Good man. We debated whether my column should begin with the word "Let's" or "Let us" and whether we could get the word "cornucopia" all on one line. Changed one "like" to "as" to keep things proper. There are few things more fun to me than this -- a shot of Bushmills and close reading of the clean page and its latest Patty Warner image. To me it's a deeply satisfying process, and participating in Gary's idiosyncratic and passionate devotion to his work is one of my life's great pleasures these days. He's been at this exacting labor of love for 31 years. His first issue was July 3, 1976. I hope he gets to have a few sips of that Bushmill's soon.
NaNoWriMo is a roller coaster. Cranked out my requisite words this weekend and felt a bit possessed. Writing one scene brought me to tears, and at a certain point one of my characters demanded to speak, resulting in a 1,000 word section in his voice. This is wild. One, I've never written in a man's voice and two, I thought the damn thing was gonna be in my usual first-person thinly-veiled autobiographical voice. It's unnerving.It's fun, though, swapping messages with my fellow word fiends, Dave, Jim, Janelle and Cathy. Dave amusingly reported a "huge, hairy lumberjack" has lumbered (ha ha) into his story. Can't wait to read it!
The analogy of what's going on is that I'm putting all the puzzle pieces on the table...there are a growing number of pieces, but it will be a long time before I start putting them together on the tabletop. Five days into it, it's still fun. Only 25 more days to go. Gulp.
Not a hero
4 years ago