November 12, 2011

A writing fragment that grew, and the work of self-publishing

The writing ideas that come to me lately are fragments, bits that don’t seem to go anywhere. Most of them get written down somewhere, so maybe one day some of them will come to life and grow. A fragment that grew into something, I think, is at the end of this blog entry. It’s called Sentences, and might well end up in the collection I am making, that might be called, Stones Gathered Together.

With the help of my friend Jill, I have devised something that might do as a cover for the ebook version of my finished novel, Where the HeArt is.

I’m still gathering permissions for using the quotes in that book. And the copyholders of A A Milne’s material said, “No.” I can’t use three lines from his poem “Disobedience” because, as they say in their letter, “The Trustees for the Estate of Milne feel strongly that quotes for the poems should be restricted to matters directly relating to children or in children’s literature.” This is the first time I have been turned down. Other copyright holders (most notably for Emily Dickinson) wanted to be paid rather a lot for quoting two lines, in an earlier book, so I changed the quote. In Where the HeArt Is I refer to ED’s poems, but don’t quote any directly.

Because there are a number of references to works of visual art in Where the HeArt Is, and because I don’t have the resources to either get permission to reproduce them or print them, I have put a list of where each one can be found on the internet at the back of the book. In the ebook version, this is hyperlinked to the text.

I am about halfway through the formatting needed to upload the book to Smashwords, which is a vehicle to get books distributed to all the major ebook retailers except Amazon. There is a way to get onto Amazon’s Kindle listing, but I haven’t sorted that out yet. And then there is the business of accepting that one third of anything I earn from online sales will go to the US tax department, or going through a daunting process to get an exemption, as someone who does not live in the US. There’s a great deal of work in self-publishing! Then there are blurbs to write, and online "marketing" to figure.... I have dome some work on how to let people know my book is there online. More of that in a later post.

There is also a whole lot of reading going on in my life. I’ll put some of that in a separate post. Soon.

Here's the fragment that grew:

This is a sentence. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
Full stop. (Fool, stop!) The noun, the name, is the anchor, the key. The article tells us it’s one. Solitary. A verb is existence or action.
(‘Is’ is bang in the middle of prison.)
‘This’ is a word. Not naming but definite. This, not that. This only. This ‘this’ only. Contains ‘is’. Existence contains ‘is,’ appropriately. ‘Lives’ contains ‘is,’ only with some rearrangement. Gone, dead, death, no ‘is’ in there. Gone has ‘no’, or strictly speaking ‘on’. ‘No’ is ‘on’ backwards but can you go backwards from gone? But finished has ‘is.’ You can take any idea too far.
‘I am’, said Descartes and McCahon and no doubt many others. Well, me too. I write this, therefore I am. If I don’t write this it doesn’t prove anything.
Gertrude Stein wrote ‘Rose is a rose is a rose’ in a poem. In this line, the first ‘Rose’ is purported to be a person. Later, she wrote, ‘A rose is a rose is a rose,’ which, according to Wikipedia, ‘is often interpreted as meaning “things are what they are,” a statement of the law of identity.’ Later again, in Four In America, she said, ‘Now listen! I’m no fool. I know that in daily life we don’t go around saying “is a … is a … is a …” Yes, I’m no fool; but I think in that line the rose is red for the first time in English poetry for a hundred years.’
With Gertrude it’s hard to tell exactly what she meant, you have to ride along with her sentences, waiting for the occasional sense of something to float into your mind. She wrote: ‘I really do not know that anything has ever been more exciting than diagramming sentences,’ (And had a passion for the full-stop.) Gertrude wrote about paragraphs as well as sentences, which is getting way too complicated.
‘To be or not to be [a mother] that is the question.’ And a sentence. Either way, in the end, you have to live with it. And, either way, it’s a life sentence.

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