I received the letter you wrote me some time ago and made three successive attempts at composing a reply—one in the form of an autobiographical comic strip, one on an old card with Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta’s The Masqueraders from a box of correspondence stationery purchased from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (pictured above), and one on a Strathmore watercolor postcard. They all remained unfinished in a heap for months and I’ve discarded them for shame. I think it’s safe to say that between my illegible handwriting and envisioning unrealistic grandiose plans for hand-illustrating and personalized stationery, writing letters is not a strength of mine. I hope you'll understand that the best way to hold myself accountable for the inexcusable delay was by publishing my answer to you here.
When I received your letter it was dated 8/01/17—I’m sure a lot has happened since. Are you still planning on attending graduate school for film studies? That sounds exciting! Also, technical writing sounds neat—I know George Saunders did that for awhile and has described the influence it’s had on his fiction as "'bleeding into [his] writing until it felt poetic.’"
What am I up to?
I'm still doing magazine illustration and fretting over looking for a new (and preferably remote) part-time job.
I’ve just returned from visiting New Orleans for a week and thought of both you and Katie while visiting Z’otz to catch up with a friend who also happened to be in town—visiting from Portland—serendipitous!
I was supposed to be relaxing and visiting with family, but ended up walking from my old high school to Magazine Street's Garden District while planning a tour for the book Laurel and I kickstarted together. I really need to find an agent to help me with this sort of thing—especially all the promotion and tour dates. All I really want to be doing right now is writing a sequel to Book One. I’ve got a few other projects in the works, too. I’m 30,000 words into writing a novel about the enigmas of sphinxes, snakes, and birds. I’ve gathered a collection of twenty-one short stories, for which I’m also seeking representation. Lastly, an imprint of Moonchild Magazine will be publishing my chapbook Horrorscope—forthcoming probably in 2019.
I’m glad to hear you’re still writing poetry and keeping in touch with anna. I really enjoyed reading some short stories she'd printed out and let me keep after the reading that Roland organized in the garage behind his apartment—that was so wonderful! Unfortunately, lost them (and the notes I made) during the move to North Carolina. I’ve wanted to get in touch with her and ask if she wants to trade fiction for something she’s working on. Let me know if you’d like to do the same.
I did enjoy doing book reviews for PineStraw. That was a temporary gig—running from October 2016 to October 2017. I had to read, research, and come up with fancy adjectives for eight titles a month—it was a lot of work and I definitely made an effort not to repeat myself or sound overly saccharine. Still, I’d get home from working at the bookshop and it was as though I’d brought my job home to keep me up late into the night after I'd finished cooking dinner. I completely lost the crucial time I needed for making comics and writing fiction. Laurel and I were also still adjusting to having a new puppy then, so having to repeatedly get up—several times a day—from typing the reviews to take Felix outside wasn’t exactly easy or welcome adjustment for a freelancer's schedule. Between that and taking the puppy out in the wee hours of the morning, a train of thought can be easily lost. I've since adapted by abandoning my habit of note & sketch books for writing ideas instead down on a packet of index notecards. I've made a rule of constantly keeping them on my person.
Last, but not least, thank you for the flower you found on your beach-walk. It has since disintegrated into fragments of petal and stem as if to hold me responsible for not writing to you sooner. I appreciated it when you mentioned going through great pains to avoid the gritty California sand—I, too, prefer to avoid the elements (especially the sun) while walking along the shore.
Romey “Goth at the Beach" Petite