Monday, August 29, 2011

The typewriter times

Spent Saturday and Sunday in Austin at ArmadilloCon. My idea about bringing a portable typewriter to my table in the dealers' room proved to be a great idea. In the two days I actually banged out a 12-page story, a homage to Howard Waldrop and "The Ugly Chickens" called "The Stinky Men".

I sold enough copies of "Music for Four Hands" (ten) to pay for the table rental to recoup my cost of the table, so the venture cost me nothing. Having the table was like having a private office, it gave me a place to hang out and spread my stuff. And instead of looking like some lonely mook trying to sell books, I had something to do between visits with bystanders.

I worked Friday and didn't leave Mount Pleasant until 5:30 a.m. Saturday, so I didn't get to the convention until about 11:15 a.m. I set up my stuff and went to lunch with my younger brother, who lives in Austin. I left the typewriter behind with a sheet of paper in it where I had banged "Out to Lunch".

I was back by 1:15 and the rest of the afternoon - except when I had a panel at 3 p.m. - I spent at my table, visiting and typing. Bill Crider came by and bought the first copy of "Music for Four Hands", which I suitably autographed. He took a photo of me at work, which you can see on his blog.

The story actually flowed well enough that I had an eight-page first draft done by the time the dealers' room closed at 6 p.m. I read that story at my scheduled reading at 10 p.m. - which despite the late hour attracted two people - and on Sunday backed up a bit and did a new ending.
Jayme Blaschke read the first draft of "Stinky Men" earlier in the evening and he also said the ending was weak, but I was actually surprised that I could come up with something finished by the time the dealers' room closed. I need to send him a photocopy of the final version.

I will go back and made correct some typos I made along the way, but I have something that - while not the most brilliant story in the world - will at least not make editors' "eyes bleed" - to use one of Howard Waldrop's phrases.

The story, as I said, is obviously inspired by "The Ugly Chickens" and I flat-out used a "Professor Waldrop" in the story. I probably should sent Howard a copy, too, just for grins.

People said they could hear the clacking of the typewriter all across the dealers' room, and a number of people stopped by in search of the sound. Some also took pictures; it was cute when a few people with children told them what I was doing, since the youngsters didn't even know what a typewriter was.

A few people also made comparisons to Harlan Ellison (who wrote a story back in the 1980s called "Hitler Painted Roses" while sitting in a store window) and, of course, Howard, who still uses a typewriter for real.

I probably will send "The Stinky Men" to Gordon VanGelder at F&SF since he is the last of he Big Three magazines that only takes hard copy. Even if he doesn't buy it, he can still say years from now that he still got a typed submission - by mail - as late as 2011.

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