Rendered Fat Content


Riva Helfond, Curtain Factory (1939)

"My purpose sleeps in the basement or beneath the neighbor's bushes."

I woke in the middle of my short night to crawl under the covers. Two hours later, I was crawling out into my morning, knowing I was crawling into an ending. I swear that I dread almost everything now, especially the inevitable. My Summer slips over a horizon foreshortened by low clouds and an utterly alien rain. The painting suspended for a day; I built my first fire of the season just to see that I hadn't lost that ability through the unrelenting Summer heat. When the turn comes, it shocks even the best-prepared, most anticipatory person, even the one who'd been counting down, even the one focused upon Honing.

It must not matter what topic I choose.
This world and my experience seem plenty plastic enough to slip right into any context. The topic's just the container, not the content. Content wields great, if not definitive, influence. I could write ninety stories about a ham sandwich and find little resistance to molding any story to fit like a condiment. I still expend considerable angst over choosing my context. I try to imagine the topic serving as a title: Honing (subtitle yet to be determined), the chronicle of a young man inexplicably inhabiting an old man's body. The title matters little, too, for the stories flow as they always flow, like water, around or through, downhill.

Molly, The Fairly Feral Cat, came in on her own volition last night. She'd pretty reliably show up for breakfast and supper, lately insisting that I feed her on the deck. She'd grown averse to stepping inside the house, so I felt surprised and delighted to see her come strolling into my office as I struggled to summarize my writing week last night. She was crying, seeking my attention. The Muse reported later that she'd found her holed up in the basement and even let her pet her, a rare occasion. When Molly decides to sleep in her basement lair rather than the neighbor's bushes, her decision means something. I pay attention.

Honing has been an extended practicing session for me. It will be the first series I've written where I finished assembling the manuscript from it on the same day I completed writing it. I still have several finished series yet to be manuscripted, but Honing has proven an exception. Several innovations assisted me in achieving this accomplishment. I learned how to shrink my images some of the time. I was using a nifty drag-and-drop facility within GraphicConverter12 until that inexplicably stopped working. I can still sometimes save space by merely Saving For Web. I created a movable template for some of the more repetitive posting tasks, saving me from some frustration and a little time. None of my innovations seem particularly Earth-shaking, though together, they speak to steady adapting. I don't know what else I expected other than more perfect production.

Through my twenty-four previously finished series, I have realized that I failed to change the world with my efforts. Had changing the world been my asperation, I could never have deemed myself successful, but I had not been foolish enough to wish for what nobody ever gets to have. This world seems to be changing plenty without me finding leverage to influence its turning. My time's better invested in adapting to its constantly evolving nature, not to slow it down or change its trajectory, but to preserve the quality of my own experience. Quality of experience seems communicable. When my experience feels high quality, it affects my readers. When theirs improves, they pass it forward. The universe reveals itself in waves, like stories in a series. It seems to stay the same because it works on time scales beyond my direct perception, like Honing, like writing, and like reading, too.

I know I'm supposed to tell my readers what they've just read as the final act of creating any series or collection of stories. However, I do not subscribe to the spoon-feeding school of authoring. I expect my reader to draw their own conclusions. Whenever I speak with a reader and they recount their experience with my writing, I hear myself subvocalizing, "What in the heck did you read? I never wrote anything even vaguely resembling what you're describing." This often repeated tacit exchange indicates that all's right with this world or right enough for the kind of work I engage in. I steadfastly refuse to outline where I'm going. I frequently fall off topic. I can't draw conclusions any better than I can draw to an insight straight. I scribble gibberish. I once hoped to be able to reform myself, back before I finally came in from that cold like a feral cat finally accepting some dependence. My purpose sleeps in the basement or beneath the neighbor's bushes. My meanings wander.

Thank you for following along with this series!

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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