A Distant Horizon

Dear Citizen “Revolutionary”:

I haven’t written you back, I know. Sorry, but I just can’t be bothered at times replying to your emails instantly you communist. I know, I know, they did it wrong everywhere, and you would do it right. How many times have we heard that over the years? You know me by now: I am simply a New Deal liberal and proud of it. So stop trying to wave the Manifesto at me. Your cr-pola won’t work on me. It is over – we hope – November 4, when there will be a result. I get a distinct impression from this side of the pond that aside from Halloween the country has basically gone on hold waiting for Tuesday’s result.

[George Washington’s grave at his home, Mt. Vernon, Virginia. Photo by me, 2011.]

We aim to win elections to alter our governance; we don’t make change by slaughtering all and sundry just because we don’t like them. While you are fantasizing about another happy version of a French Revolution, at least stop joking about f-cking guillotines to me because I suspect you are not joking that much. They killed thousands of innocents, including lots of women, you g-damn moron. What wannabe revolutionist dudes like you always forget is that your head ends up first on the block. When they are about to slice your head off because you are so rich you own a house mortgaged to the hilt, as the blade falls I hope you go to Eternity thinking, “Yeh, that bastard Robert was right.” Damn straight. I do know a helluva lot more about it than you and your ilk do.

I presume you have gotten around to, you know, some actual WRITING? Writing now, I have thought lots about what I feel I have accomplished so far in seven years. It is more than I ever expected in December 2013 when my very first book was released.

[A 1792 France excerpt from Conventions: The Garden At Paris. Paperback. Photo by me, 2020.]

I started this 1700s-1800s stuff in 2016 thinking I would write one massive novel. While I was full on writing it, though, I realized I had a distant horizon at which I could aim if I chose and it might make the whole thing huge and spectacular. So eventually that one novel became two novels, and then in my mind where I am now, this developing third. I saw not just endless writing possibilities, but importantly entertaining reading which is bottom line what this should be all about. This third novel may end this project, but I feel it will be a wonderful ending. The other day I had a great time writing several new pages. It all came out so organically, so richly on target. We all know those feelings when it just happens and we cannot explain it. We always hope for as many of those days as possible.

One of the biggest mistakes I think any of us make is that we think any other writer really cares about what we write. Because most of them, frankly, don’t. Only our true friends do. (I suppose we are those.) Authors have to use social media today not only because publishers demand it but because every business uses it; but on a creative level I think social media has often been a disaster for authors. If we think back to before about 20 years ago, an author would write and get feedback and advice mostly from a close circle. That was my uncle’s authoring world from the 1980s to 2000: his publisher, his agent, a few writer friends he drank with and knew WELL would chime in some, and they were about it. Some self-proclaimed “beta reader” guy in Hoboken he had never met didn’t “critique” the manuscript too.

But now every writer (or wannabe) is on Twitter offering suggestions. And we know already Twitter reduces everything to the same idiot size. You get the MD heart surgeon who wears a mask 20 hours for an operation tweet about mask-wearing saving lives and some illiterate clown calling him/herself “FreedomLuver4Soldier1776” with “#TRUMP2020” in the profile responds by tweeting, “Their are studies that say they don’t, why your hiding them?” Who’s right there? The MD? Or the clown? Think about if Jane Austen wrote today. She would be slaughtered by “geniuses” on Goodreads offering insightful “reviews”: “⭐️ because I don’t like books like this.” And imagine some of her “beta” readers?: “Ooh, I don’t like Darcy. He’s not very nice. Can’t you make him nicer?”

[Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. Photo by me, 2019.]

I do wonder what inventiveness we are losing in exchange for approval of the “masses.” I don’t use that word in your commie sense there. I say it because I cannot get out of my head what I saw recently on Instagram: drop the “m” from “masses” and you get, uh… you see my point.

So what I am saying here to you is I would tell any writer what I am telling you AGAIN: to seal yourself away and write the book. Stop asking everyone for advice and their suggestions. You are almost certainly not improving your book asking for so much input… and I suspect you are making it worse.

Anyway just a few thoughts that might even make sense. We have friends coming over for lunch: He’s English, but she’s Danish and lovely and at times also as frighteningly Teutonic as you can imagine. LOL! Everything has to be perfect, so I have to get going. Hope life currently in the People’s Republic of Vermont remains bucolic. Try not to drink so much tonight that you wake up and it is Monday already!

All the best in us “overthrowing” terrible leadership using persuasion and the ballot,

Citizen R. J.