I never wanted to be a poet anyway
I'd carry a lunchbox like everyone else
if only the muttering would stop
William Wantling, Seven On Style
A WPA GUIDE TO POINT AND SHOOT, FLORIDA. January 15 - January 31. 26,000 words. How do you write a WPA Guide without being on a WPA Writers' Project. Just do it. What's to stop you? You have more freedom than Bukowski. I make up a pamphlet to send to agents and editors, A WPA Guide to Point and Shoot, Florida (Sample). I drive to Florida's Forgotten Coast on a day trip, and write a pamphlet, Walking Under Water at Wakulla Springs. I get a seven-week extension of my Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits. I see that A WPA GUIDE TO POINT AND SHOOT, FLORIDA is the first book of a two-book series, The Cracker Table, end the book, and start writing the second book, AN EVEN 300 BOOKS, SINCE FORTY.
AN EVEN 300 BOOKS, SINCE FORTY. February 1 - February 9. 14,000 words. Brenda and I keep Rowan the weekend of Superbowl Sunday. The Cracker Table is about food, family, and enough is as good as a feast. Walter Anderson called himself Fortune's favorite child. He couldn't sell his paintings and was as crazy as a shithouse rat. He worked around Shearwater Pottery for pocket money and his wife let him live by himself in the Little Studio, visiting her and the kids on holidays. He went on sketching trips to Horn Island in a rowboat. I go to booksALIVE 2009! at Gulf Coast Community College, to hear Janis Owens talk about The Cracker Kitchen. Hear her stories. I'll buy the book, and read it at my leisure. She's from Marianna. Up the country.
CULTURAL OPERATOR. February 10 - February 14. 9,000 words. A cultural operator sets up and resolves oppositions in his life, then writes about them. In myth. Looks like AN EVEN 300 BOOKS, SINCE FORTY, was short. Well, CULTURAL OPERATOR will make The Cracker Table book-length. I get an announcement for the 10th annual Gulf Coast Writers Conference and decide to enter BLACK HARVEST in the novel writing contest. It's a murder mystery. I read it over. It's as close as I can come to a novel. Is it fiction, is it non-fiction? Where did it come from? What's going to happen to it? Where did this book come from? What's going to happen to The Cracker Table? Is it non-fiction or fiction? A novel or a memoir? Or an online journal (OLJ)?
A STRAIGHT WHITE MALE, FROM THE SOUTH, OF A CERTAIN AGE. February 15 - February 22. 21,000 words. First day of school up to deciding to be a writer, in the Air Force. I am a guest lecturer at a non-credit Creative Writing class at Gulf Coast Community College. Two classes, one in Port St. Joe and one in Panama City. Older students. Retirees, who have always wanted to write. I see that Finding My Seat is about paying your dues. Many are called but few are chosen, pal. The odds are daunting. That's what makes it so rewarding. Every day you face the blank page and dredge the naked truth up out of your guts, you win. How great is that! No wonder everybody wants to be a writer. Naked Hick Town lives! I write agents and editors about my last book, The Cracker Table: Writing, Work, and Family Along The Redneck Riviera. My two classes are postponed a week. The rejection slips for The Cracker Table start to come back, like homing pigeons. My emergency unemployment compensation (EUC) benefits expire. My benefit entitlement is exhausted. No additional benefits are available to me at this time.
BUCK SERGEANT. February 23 - March 1. 12,500 words. Two hitches in the service, with a year of junior college in between. Oops. Disregard. I have additional EUC available credits of $1236. That will last me eight weeks. I can finish this book. Thank you, President Bush. I see that The Cracker Table and Finding My Seat combine to form Old Hick at Home. Three months of daily typewriting. I give Old Hick at Home the subtitle Beat Poet Blues. Then I transpose the two. Beat Poet Blues: Old Hick at Home. Then I drop Old Hick at Home.
PROFESSIONAL STUDENT. March 2 - March 6. 12,000 words. Major in anthropology. Graduate with high honors. Three years of graduate work in anthropology. Drop out and steal the last year of my fellowship, to teach myself to write.
MAKING THE LEAP. March 7 - March 11. 6,000 words. First year as a writer, as a DIY fellow. I get my sea-legs under me. It isn't the first book that makes you a writer but the second. And the third. I add the subtitle Still Scuffling After All These Years to Beat Poet Blues. It looks like Iíll finish the book by March 15. Three months of daily typewriting. Three months in the life of an underground writer. An underground writer procedural novel. Itís a novel that contains a memoir. And poems. And interviews. And film clips. How I got to here. From there. And where Iím going next. I drive to St. Marks and write a pamphlet, Easy Come, Easy Go. I don't know where I'm going next.
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