Rendered Fat Content


Russell Lee: Cleaning up manure in milking shed. Large dairy, Tom Green County, Texas (1939)

"It's up to the protagonist to decide what …"

Almost as if by magic, another ending arrives. The distance to the end appears impossibly long at the beginning, and it stays that way until the last few days. The morning before the final one, it might suddenly dawn on me that I never intended this series to last forever and that it, too, would be ending soon. I'm rarely ready to begin anything and even less prepared to finish. I have yet to produce what I imagined I would produce back when I chose Publishing as my theme for this quarter. I'd imagined I would have published something by now, but I have yet to. I moved closer to a point of publication, but I cannot determine for certain. I made progress preparing a single manuscript without finishing that work, though there's still time to cross that line before this series runs out of allotted time tomorrow.

Things take as long as they take.
My sense of how long most often amounts to something other than an estimate. It's more of an allocation. How much time might I set aside for this or that consideration? That's the question, not how long I imagine this taking. Under the notion that things tend to fill up whatever container's allocated, a quarter's just as useful as a month might be, though a quarter—three months—seems somehow better. That allocation allows a month for initial milling around, a month for fiddling around, and a month for TidyingUp, though actual contents can vary. I've covered considerable territory without necessarily exhausting the topic or the investigator. Publishing still seems as if it could go on forever without resolution. It still seems as vast as any ocean.

I am still waiting to hear back from the publisher I contacted, so I have follow-up to finish. I still hold a few mysteries about the manuscripting software package. I learned that I need to reduce the size of virtually all the graphics I've ever used with my stories, but I am still determining how I might accomplish that without overwhelming myself. What started as a simple enough aspiration has become something similar to a multi-national corporation, with divisions, volumes, and conflicting imperatives. Publishing might not ever be much of anything more than TidyingUp. At least ninety percent finishing touches, moving previously crafted pieces into long-chain distribution. It casts bread on water. It looks like it takes forever. It might never end.

Publishing, like many—perhaps even most—things, did not, for me, involve actual Publishing. I have no book anyone can look at yet, let alone anything like a contract with anyone who might advance my work into more tangible forms. That part of Publishing still seems a long way from home and more than a little mythical, as if it couldn't be real. I might have spent this entire investigation nattering over relatively minor issues, frittering away real possibilities, or I might have stumbled upon the essence of Publishing; I cannot tell which. I know I'm not yet Published in the sense I intended when I began this investigation. In that sense, if in no other, this series seems to have been a failure.

When an ending arrives, knives come out. The time for judgment comes. Successes and failures get categorized. Winners and losers identified. Value and worth determined. Rewards and punishments meted. Original intentions requited or not. Participants engage in the politics of completion, by which I mean the politics of explaining what would never be otherwise obvious. Justifications get posed, some obvious bullshit, and some just as obviously brilliant. Nothing ever ends as earlier imagined. The ultimate TidyingUp proposes an explanatory story to make sense of the mess left behind. The better the story, the better the experience. In the absence of a decent story, nothing makes sense because nothing happened. Publishing without Publishing? How could that possibly be perceived as a success? It must, for something must have been accomplished. It's up to the protagonist to decide what as their final TidyingUp.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus

Made in RapidWeaver