It’s true what they say about the universe’s knack for balancing things out, even in realms as minute and cosmically massive as an author’s creation. Returning from a trip during which every attempt to write was ingeniously thwarted by odd hours, shared hotel rooms, and other demons generally seen nipping and humping at St. Christopher’s heels, I found that, in my absence, I had been published–twice. The publications (one new and one pending) are with Word Busker, a new literary e-zine with a twist I’ll touch on later, and an art book/DVD project called Strange Attractors: Investigations in Non-Humanoid Sexualities. The titles of the stories in question: “Initiation” and “An Unflinching Review of Ginning’s Indecent Practices (by Krrrtchk Neusbaum ((Pseudonymic)).” See if you can match the story with the venue.
As excited as I was to share news of my publication (and semi-boastfully pass on the first line of the best acceptance letter I’ve ever received, beginning with the only four words any author need see: “Your story is awesome”), I was even more excited by nature of the projects themselves. Hence, the small delay in posting this news: I got so embroiled in what quickly became a treatise on patronage and the 21st-century book scene (to appear later on the Black Clock blog) that I nearly forgot the bit about youbeing able to read my stories. To avoid a repeat of that little oversight, here’s “Initiation,” weighing in just shy of 250 words.
Now for the promised twist: Word Busker, who published “Initiation,” added a small but crucial postscript: a little orange button enclosing the only six letters any reader needs to see: “Donate.” The button, via one of the elaborately threaded tubes that compose the internet, funnels any reader’s enthusiasm directly into the author’s PayPal account, so that he or she can live to write another day. It couldn’t be any simpler, nor more tearfully beautiful. The “About” section of the site tells you everything you need know: “Read the story and if you like it, make a contribution to the writer. The amount is left to your discretion.” If you comment on or donate to any story during the month of July, you’re automatically entered in a contest to win a year’s subscription to Poetry is Dead magazine. Since Word Busker’s still a virtual baby (the first story was published this May), and a fairly anonymous baby at that, I’d say your chances of winning are pretty high.
If you’ve got any change left over after your generous donation to yr. obt. svt., don’t forget Strange Attractors. They’re also in need of your assistance–about $7000 dollars of it. This ambitious project, which attempts–through the compound lens of 69 artists, writers, and filmmakers filling 300 full-color pages and spilling over onto a DVD–to go “beyond male and female, beyond queer, beyond any notion of gender, beyond the anthropomorphic to erotic possibilities as vastly varied as the universe itself,” won’t be published unless they can raise $10,000 before August 27 of this year. Luckily, they’ve started a Kickstarter page (linked above) to raise the funds. Kickstarter is about the safest way to invest in a creative venture you can find: if the project falls through or fails to raise the necessary funds, you aren’t charged a cent, and you get access to many tiers of gifts and goodies depending on the size of your donation. I’ve dealt with Kickstarter previously, in support of Andrew Plotkin’s interactive fiction venture, and it worked exactly as advertised.
Plus, I can assure you that at least one piece of writing in the book will be worth your money. No, I’m not talking about mine; last fall, I had the opportunity to get a sneak peek at CalArts compatriot Denise Li’s contribution, which is how I became aware of the project in the first place. It’s probably evolved since then, but I can say without hesitation that it was, like sex itself, one of the most hyper-charged, profound, confusing, and hilarious things I have ever encountered. Even if you don’t feel like contributing, do yourself a favor and check out the websites of the book’s two organizers, the Institute of Extraterrestrial Sexuality and Encyclopedia Destructica. You’ll find many strange and sensuous worlds within–as well as way, way out there.
If you have even a Big Mac’s worth of bucks to spare this month, do consider donating. As Word Busker’s editor puts it, “sentimentality can only survive on ramen noodles for so long.”