Book I. Gulf Coast Blues: A Florida Writer's Trip Along the Gulf of Mexico from Key West to Pensacola. May 18 - June 1. 38,000 words. Side trips to Panacea, Sopchoppy, St. George Island. One to Georgiana, Alabama. I planned to go to Fairhope, Mobile, Ocean Springs, New Orleans, New Iberia, Avery Island, and Port Aransas, Texas. We see me snap the book off in Pensacola. Remember and imagine, rather than go and see for myself, report back what I find. I am afraid to leave my writing room. What if I am not there to receive it, and the writing comes? I'm like Harry Crews in Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus. I can't go off on a lark. A wild goose chase. I must be at my post.
Book II. In My Room: An Online Journal (OLJ). June 1 - June 7. 12,000 words. I confront my fears. I ended "Gulf Coast Blues" saying the crash boat isnít aimed at me. Itís a nightmare. Not reality. I was saying, "Why do I have to work for a living?" when I was not working, I was in my room, writing. I apply for a job as a custodian where Brenda works. The job pays $15,000 a year. At my last two jobs, I made $30,000 a year. At the job before that, I made $60,000 a year. I am going out backwards. Whatís next? A job that pays $7,500 a year? I lost the job paying $60,000 a year. For blogging at work. I lost the two jobs paying $30,000 a year. For blogging at work. Maybe I can hold a job that pays $15,000 a year. If I donít have a computer. At work. Maybe I can hold a job and write an OLJ both. Keep my pie hole shut online about my job. Be a sharp tool for the company. Am I, in Claudio Arrauís words, "escaping into failure"? Or am I facing facts, like Thoreau did, when, after writing Walden, he moved back in with his parents and went to work in the family pencil factory? GULF COAST BLUES and IN MY ROOM: AN ONLINE JOURNAL (OLJ) are like Walden and Thoreauís Journal. Or like Barfly and Hollywood. What would Hollywood read like if Barfly did not get made? What would Cockfighter Journal read like if Cockfighter did not get made? I buy Cockfighter, the book, Cockfighter, the DVD, with Across the Border, the documentary about Warren Oates on the end, and Cockfighter Journal: The Story of a Shooting, and have a Charles Willeford Book and Movie Festival, a Cockfighter Festival, at home, right here in River City, donít have to go no where. I didnít botch my book, if publishers donít pay attention they will botch their chance to publish my book. I drive to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and visit the Walter Anderson Museum of Art. Coming back, I add IN MY ROOM: AN ONLINE JOURNAL (OLJ) to GULF COAST BLUES and call the result a book in two parts. BOTCHED BOOK: DAMNED BY DOLLARS. THREE WEEKS IN THE LIFE OF AN UNDERGROUND WRITER. Damnóhas it only been three weeks?
June 9 -July 9. 45,000 words. In progress. I begin to reread most, not all, of Charles Willefordís books, more or less in order. Theyíre good, and you can see him develop, as a writer. I see similarities between him and me. Our approach to writing, our careers. I start my new job as a custodian. Itís an adjustment, from sitting in front of a computer all day, typing. I mop floors, vacuum carpets, empty trash, keep the bathrooms clean. I read on break and at lunchtime and write before and after work. In Willefordís short story, "An Actor Prepares," the actor was working as a dishwasher. A writer prepares. As a custodian. What is conduct unbecoming a custodian? Weíll recognize it when we see it. You canít quantify the custodian mystique.
July 10 - July 31. 37,000 words. Jack Saunders didnít plan to retire. He hadnít set anything aside. Social security was withheld from his wages, so at 62, he had that. $1,000 monthly, less Medicare. And once he had a corporate job that paid retirement. When they laid him off, and paid him what was in his account, he rolled it over into an annuity. Then, last year, he cashed it in and lived off of it for a year, or slightly longer. Now, he was working again. As a custodian. He was getting back into shape. Gradually. He needed a job that required him to move around. To lift and stoop and walk a lot and use his upper-body muscles. Otherwise, heíd sit in front of a computer and type all day long. Saunders would be 67 on August 31, 2006. His 35th anniversary as a writer.
August 1 - August 23. 64,000 words. Saunders comments on the sheets of blurbs he has assembled, from famous writers, to unknown writers and readers, to bitter alt-zine flame-war nerds on the worldwide web. He writes a pamphlet called 32 Short Reviews of UNDERGROUND WRITER LOOKS BACK: HERE STANDS THE BOOK, to hand out at his presentation on "The Correspondence Novel" at the Gulf Coast Writers Conference, at Gulf Coast Community College, where his anthology for the Postcards From Pottersville series from Pottersville Press, Adventures in the Underground, will be on sale. He will also sell his last published book, Bukowski Never Did This: A Year in the Life of an Underground Writer and His Family, at the conference. He writes a pamphlet called The Correspondence Novel to hand out. The what? Well, itís a subgenre he perfected.
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