Luck

Before I begin this post, I just want to say that I agree with Chris Wage here and here. A lot of people aren’t reading this chick for comprehension, but for the chance to stand in line to be the next to tell her how wrong she is.  And let’s just never mind how disgusting it is to blame her or others like her for people’s deaths. Lord almighty. There is nothing the internet loves more than the chance to tell women how wrong they are and how our wrongness is hurting America and killing the very things–artists, children, families–that we love.

All that being said, I think this post by Jason Lewis tells a real truth, one that I have learned just by observation living here in Nashville, where literally everyone is the best guitar player you’ve ever heard:

once you get to a certain level, where you’re playing good clubs and have a following, almost everybody is good, almost everybody has something. What separates one band from the next is often a confluence of timing, luck, having the right people in the room at the right time…any number of somewhat uncontrollable factors. And the truth of the matter is, no matter how hard you work, on a certain level you cannot control that stuff.

This is the truth of publishing, too, and one I can’t really figure out for myself. You know I consider A City of Ghosts to be a great success and I really love that book. But I have to tell you, I’d rather have a publisher next time. I want a little of their luck. Not because I want to be rich and famous, but because I want my work to have a shot at being read and liked by people who don’t know me, at all.

And I can’t make that happen on my own. I tried.

The Menace of Cathode Ray Tubes

I’m at the part in “The Shunned House” remix where the narrator’s uncle has procured some Crookes’ tubes to… I’m not quite sure… do something to the thing in the basement. I looked up Crookes’ tubes, which were apparently hugely important for teaching us a lot about different thing, but, as far as I can tell, really only succeeded in casting some kind of glowing shadow? I don’t quite understand if they were cathode ray tubes or if they lead to the invention of the cathode ray tube, but either way, it appears their strategy for using a Crookes’ tube as a weapon would have actually been something like “Please look at this until you get really, really bored.”

Which, you know, is how most of us spent our childhoods in front of cathode ray tubes and none of us were vanquished.

On the other hand, presumably none of us are werewolfish vampiric Frenchmen buried in some unsuspecting person’s basement, so maybe it works?

This part of the story is making me realize two things. One, I need a different weapon. I’m going with a highly-classified electromagnetic pulse weapon, which our grandchildren and great-grandchildren can laugh about. “Betsy thought you could vanquish a werewolfish vampiric Frenchman with a toaster?! People in the past were so stupid.” To which I say, “None of you are vampiric werewolfish Frenchmen buried in some unsuspecting person’s basement, so I guess it works, huh? Get off my lawn.”

Two, my story needs more Jesus. Well, any Jesus at all. It’s just not plausible that a couple of Southern vampiric werewolfish Frenchmen-hunters who think they may have uncovered evidence of black magic wouldn’t have some Jesus-y backup. No matter how “skeptical” or “scientific” they imagine themselves to be, they’re going to pray at some point. It just wouldn’t be otherwise.

That’s a pretty big change from Lovecraft, but it’s a necessary one to meet my goals.

When You Win on Outrage, What Do You Lead On?

Frank Cagle’s got an interesting column up over at Metro Pulse about how the Republican infrastructure in Tennessee was built with the power of outrage and how, now that they’re in power, the Republican politicians haven’t found a way to diffuse that outrage into something that’s not going to bite them on the ass, too.

Hence the situation where twenty-three Republicans have primary challengers.

I think part of the problem is that there’s been this underlying rhetoric of “When we get into office, we will make them pay.” But all the ways that Republican politicians have made “them” pay don’t really feel viscerally satisfying to people who are not also politicians. I live in Nashville, for instance, and I am neither really aware of nor greatly upset over whose offices have had to move where and whose staff has been cut. I don’t feel personally insulted by it. Same with redistricting. Eh? So what? Republicans won. I expected them to redistrict in their favor.

And I’m not trying to downplay the assault that women’s health is under in this state, but I suspect that, since so few places actually perform abortions in Tennessee that, if Republicans could persevere and get them all shut down, it, too, wouldn’t feel like they want to feel.

Because they want to feel like they’ve won. The whole thing. That their enemies have been vanquished and that the state is now safe once more for good conservative, Christian folks. And that just can’t be. No one is ever actually completely vanquished. Especially not when your battles are mostly rhetorical.

The problem is, I think, that a lot of conservative Tennesseans feel like they were promised this moment. And it’s not coming.

I don’t know what Republicans do, instead, but I am genuinely and not snarkily interested in seeing if and how you take a political movement that expects one thing and massage them into accepting another.