Thoughts . . . by Mark Rich

. . . scribbled . . . scrawled . . . trimmed . . . typewritten . . . grubbed up . . . squeezed from circumstance . . .

Monday, December 6, 2010

St. Nicholas Day

Some years ago, Gavin and Kelly at Small Beer Press published a little story of mine. It told of a bit of joy-finding ... an awakening that happened to fall on a St. Nicholas Day.

I keep having that story come to mind at odd moments. I tell myself I should do more with those characters, that setting, that time ... not in a way that would disturb the original story, but in a way that would move onward with the lively spirit that had led that that story's writing.

St. Nicholas day holds a pleasant place in the calendar -- marking the awakening of the mind, perhaps, to the onrushing eventuality of the deep solstice.

Quite by coincidence this morning I set myself back upon tasks that I had set aside oh-so-many months ago. Back then, I suffered the mad delusion that I ought to shoulder a co-op's rescue. Then, some weeks ago, it became clear that I needed to un-shoulder what remained of the task, and to return to my old, simpler life. Among other catching-up activities around home and yard, I put my working office into order.

This morning I finally sat myself upon an old wooden stool, dusted off a pencil, and, in preparing to begin in earnest my old task of new writing, I checked the date that I might jot it upon the page -- and saw the date to be December sixth.

This morning, too, Martha put out some laundry for me to carry up to our village's small laundromat. I undertook the minor task, and read history while the clothes were turning and churning. I could hardly help noticing, though, a publication left on the table by zealous proponents of some religious stripe or other. The publication concerned itself with the burgeoning numbers of marching atheists.

The publication's title was Awake -- which made me smile, since it made me think again of my old St. Nicholas Day story, here on a new St. Nicholas Day.

Was the pamphlet in favor, or opposed? I never checked. As a believer in not believing in beliefs, I believe I could have cared less.

Tending to daily duties on a fine, wintery St. Nicholas Day, I folded fabrics and walked homeward with quite minor but quite distinct satisfaction.

Cheers ...

Currant Wine

[also written on and intended for July 1, 2010]

Since I was thinking of starting a new currant wine, this morning I went into the basement in search of a bottle to try. I opened one from 2009, decanted it, and poured a glass to try a few sips.

It was a wine that I believe would prove agreeable enough for some home winemakers. It was not adequate for this household, though.

When I looked at the records, I discovered, somewhat to my surprise, that I had made it as a cooked wine, pouring boiling water over the hapless red currants. Martha noted, when I saw this in my records, that last summer we had no way of knowing, as of yet, the real difference between the cooked and raw wines.

As a cooked wine, I should note, red currant is actually superior to strawberry wine -- more delicate, less fruity.

Cheers ...

A Mile Beyond the Moon

[written on and intended for July 1, 2010]

Martha ordered a copy of the June Locus when it was announced, and received it this past week, in the last days of the month. While I have been intended to renew my subscription -- for I do have a job now -- I had not yet done so when June's review of C.M.K. appeared.

Gary K. Wolfe writes the review. It is a positive one -- and in a positive note he mentions a mistake that evaded my eye and, more surprisingly, the eagle eye of Bob Silverberg, who went through the text with a fine-toothed comb this last January.

It probably evaded both our attentions because it appears on page one ... in the "Preface," where I was writing relaxedly and Bob was likely not yet into fine-toothed-comb mode. Interestingly, though, Gary Wolfe is mistaken in the sentence in which he mentions the error: "There are a few minor errors and omissions -- Rich only once mentions Kornbluth's important 1958 collection A Mile Beyond the Moon, for example, and he gets the title wrong (as Miles Beyond the Moon)."

Kornbluth's posthumous collection does come in for discussion several times, at appropriate places in K's story -- just not under the name of the collection, which, as far as I could tell, was not determined while Cyril was alive.

As an example of the collection appearing in the narrative of Cyril's life, his re-reading of novelette "Reap the Dark Tide," and his personal reaction to his own writing, came about because he was assembling the book for Doubleday.

In any case, I should have addressed factual matters concerning the book's publication and impact. By the time I was at the point when I might have been developing the subject of the collection's impact, and writing such matters down, however, I was exhausted physically and emotionally (having long before been exhausted financially) by the writing of the book; and that issue, among others, remained unaddressed. The manuscript had grown already to mammoth proportions, moreover.

I certainly should have noted the collection's title chronologically. That I did not is, indeed, an oversight.

Thanks to G.K.W. for a thoughtful review.

Cheers ...