Friday, November 21, 2014

Amateur or Artist?


I know of nothing more boring than thinking of writing as a daily profession.  As H. P. Lovecraft has shewn, some amateurs are artists of exceptional excellence.  There are many kinds of writers, and a multitude of reasons for writing.

I write because I must, it is a compulsion beyond my control.  It began when I was a wee gay Mormon kid in love with Broadway musicals.  We had this event called "road shows," ten minute skits that were written by church members.  I was always writing the songs for these shows, even though I couldn't read music.  It was thrilling to watch the finished production and hear my little songs played on a piano in full arrangement.  In junior high and high school I wrote full musical comedies, alone or with a buddy.  I also began, in high school, to do fanzines devoted to horror films.  As a Mormon missionary in Northern Ireland, I began to write weird fiction, influenced by my correspondence with Robert Bloch.  Returning to the states, I became a Lovecraft freak and began to publish my Lovecraftian fanzines.  When I discovered punk rock, it was my natural instinct to celebrate this new lifestyle by publishing Punk Lust.  My punk identity was linked to writing as much as it was to music.

My core identity now is that of being a writer of weird fiction.  I am not a professional and have no interest in being so.  I strive for excellence in my work, and I consider myself an artist.  Some may find it pretentious to link the work "art" to the writing of horror fiction--surely we are entertainers merely, not artists.  Bullshit.  It was, in part, because H. P. Lovecraft cared about the artistic quality of his work that his fiction is still relevant and admirable.  He was every inch an artist, obsessed with language, the poetics of beautiful prose, &c &c.  That is the lesson I have learned from him, from Oscar Wilde and Henry James, from S. T. Joshi

I regret that I lack the discipline that is requir'd of a professional writer.  I've been trying, for weeks, to write a new thing for S. T.'s forthcoming GOTHIC LOVECRAFT.  I love writing Gothic fiction and so you'd think this wou'd be a simple thing for me.  I can't fucking concentrate.  Every thing I begin fails to move past the first page, seems lifeless and uninspired.  I have, at times, come close to giving up; but I know that if I fail to write for this anthology I will become tremendously depressed when it is publish'd.  Forcing the work of writing seldom works for me, but I feel the need to force it nigh.  Perhaps, from forcing it, I can overcome this bogus fail, get past the first page, and find myself inspir'd.  Gawd, I hope so.

Little things encourage me.  I just had an old story selected for a forthcoming Cthulhu Mythos reprint anthology.  That's lovely--you get a cheque and don't have to do any work, & then you're in a way rad book with lots of excellent writers.  Sweet.

But there is nothing sweeter than finishing a new story, printing it out and holding that manuscript in your hand.  That's what I live for.

And so--to work.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Eldritch Heaven

I love that jacket for Lovecraft Remembered, with E'ch-Pi-El hovering in ye heavens as some Eldritch Yahweh.  He hovers there for me, in this sad modern era.  I have been an obsess'd Lovecraft fanboy for moft of my life, since around 1973; & yet it is now, to-day, that being a Lovecraftian, for me, has reach'd heights of wonder.  I cannot believe how lucky I am! This evening Leslie Klinger and S T. Joshi will appear at the University Bookstore to discuss HPL as part of a book signing event for The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft.  Have I told ye yet how much I LOVE this new edition of Lovecraft's tales?  Such a fabulous book!!!  One of the great things about being a Lovecraftian to-day is the serious critical work being done on Lovecraft's texts.  The definitive edition of those texts will be S. T. Joshi's forthcoming Variorum edition--now, alas, postponed until January or thereabouts.


As an author who is obsess'd with writing stories that are linked to Lovecraft's fiction and poetry, I am greatly aided by the current scholarly writings, which inform me of aspects of Lovecraft's genius that I am too intellectually clueless to discover on my own.  One of my great joys in the past has been to hang with Lovecraft scholars at conventions or the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival.  Because of increasing poor health, I will no longer attend such exhausting events--but that's okay, because we have our own wee Lovecraft/Weird fiction gang here in Seattle.  

Seattle has been magical since S. T. Joshi moved here, and to-night is going to be one enchanted evening.  Some few of us will meet at S. T.'s for a pre-signing nosh of cheese & wine, and then we will all pile into one car and drive to the signing.  I will be buying a copy of The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft for a friend--but because S. T. is a part of the event, I am hopeful that his editions of Lovecraft and his Lovecraft and a World in Transition will also be offer'd for purchase.  I am also hopeful that a huge crowd will assemble to hear these two editors of Lovecraft discuss his work, his text, &c.  Bitches, I thrive on this kind of thing.  After the signing, if it isn't too late, some of us will find a place for a late dinner, & thus continue the discussion on HPL &c.  

I never thought my life as a Lovecraftian wou'd be so enrich'd.  Hell, I never thought I'd have my own wee books of weird fiction publish'd.  Life is good.  Life is eldritch.