Saturday, February 18, 2012

Enter Ahab

(Image misappropriated from Cartoonarchy.)

Ugh. Not again.

I seem to have come down with a nasty cold.

Did I used to get sick this often? No, I don't think so -- not before I started smoking, turned back to caffeine as my personal savior, and started sleeping only four to five hours a night in order to maintain a productive creative life without sacrificing employment hours or whatever semblance of a social life I might claim to have.

Instead taking it easy and trying to recover last night, I pumped myself full of DayQuil and WORX (thank you, James) and stayed up until three in the morning in order to finished reformatting The Zeroes as a printed paperback book. It was a huge pain in the ass and it probably only made me sicker, but it's done. The proof is expected to arrive in my mailbox on Tuesday. Once I make sure I didn't screw anything up too badly, I plan to order a few extra copies to mail out to some literary magazines, who will notice it is a self-published book and promptly throw it in the garbage.

Having lumbered through this whole ordeal, I'm beginning to wonder why self-published authors don't get just a little more credit than they do (which is almost none). I worked a lot harder at making this book happen than somebody who just wrote a manuscript, handed it over to his publisher, and allowed them deal with all the bothersome details. Christ. It's enough to make me want to run through the pitch-letter process again for the next book, just so there might be that infinitesimal sliver of a chance I might actually sell the book and be spared from having to go through all this self-publishing drudgery and make myself sick all over again.

This, by the by, is the sham publisher's imprint I threw together for the back cover. I think it's sorta cute.

All I got for you this week is yet another excerpt from Moby-Dick, since I'm too exhausted to compose anything. (This is not be the first time you've seen me falling back upon Mr. Melville when I'm unable to produce an update, and it most assuredly will not be the last.) I'm sure it's somehow relevant to my life over the past couple of weeks or something.

I'm gonna go lie down.

Chapter 37: Sunset

[The cabin; by the stern windows; Ahab sitting alone, and gazing out.]

I leave a white and turbid wake; pale waters, paler cheeks, where'er I sail. The envious billows sidelong swell to whelm my track; let them; but first I pass.

Yonder, by the ever-brimming goblet's rim, the warm waves blush like wine. The gold brow plumbs the blue. The diver sun slow dived from noon, goes down; my soul mounts up! she wearies with her endless hill. Is, then, the crown too heavy that I wear? this Iron Crown of Lombardy. Yet is it bright with many a gem; I, the wearer, see not its far flashings; but darkly feel that I wear that, that dazzlingly confounds. 'Tis iron that I know not gold. 'Tis split, too - that I feel; the jagged edge galls me so, my brain seems to beat against the solid metal; aye, steel skull, mine; the sort that needs no helmet in the most brain-battering fight!

Dry heat upon my brow? Oh! time was, when as the sunrise nobly spurred me, so the sunset soothed. No more. This lovely light, it lights not me; all loveliness is anguish to me, since I can ne'er enjoy. Gifted with the high perception, I lack the low, enjoying power; damned, most subtly and most malignantly! damned in the midst of Paradise! Good night good night!

[Waving his hand, he moves from the window.]

'Twas not so hard a task. I thought to find one stubborn, at the least; but my one cogged circle fits into all their various wheels, and they revolve. Or, if you will, like so many ant-hills of powder, they all stand before me; and I their match. Oh, hard! that to fire others, the match itself must needs be wasting! What I've dared, I've willed; and what I've willed, I'll do! They think me mad - Starbuck does; but I'm demoniac, I am madness maddened! That wild madness that's only calm to comprehend itself! The prophecy was that I should be dismembered; and Aye! I lost this leg. I now prophesy that I will dismember my dismemberer. Now, then, be the prophet and the fulfiller one. That's more than ye, ye great gods, ever were. I laugh and hoot at ye, ye cricket-players, ye pugilists, ye deaf Burkes and blinded Bendigoes! I will not say as school-boys do to bullies, Take some one of your own size; don't pommel me! No, ye've knocked me down, and I am up again; but ye have run and hidden. Come forth from behind your cotton bags! I have no long gun to reach ye. Come, Ahab's compliments to ye; come and see if ye can swerve me. Swerve me? ye cannot swerve me, else ye swerve yourselves! man has ye there. Swerve me? The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails, whereon my soul is grooved to run. Over unsounded gorges, through the rifled hearts of mountains, under torrents' beds, unerringly I rush! Naught's an obstacle, naught's an angle to the iron way!

Oh! On a separate note: if you happen to have purchased the Kindle version of The Zeroes, I've since revised it for typos (and reversed a small event in the plot that you likely won't even notice). You can ask for the new version by emailing (You will not be charged for the update.)

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