Jack D. Hunter's Blog

24 July 2007

Ahoy! A word (or two) from our sponsor (me):

I hope this finds you all in fine fettle, whatever a fettle is. I have just this day finished writing my 17th novel, and I'm suffering post partem depression, ringing ears, shaking hands, and eyes so blurred they absolutely refuse to look at the dictionary to find what a fettle is. Should you really care, you are invited to consult Webster's yourself. Meanwhile, I'll fake it by kicking back in my plush fettle, sipping a tall cool fettle from a crystal fettle and fettling a tune on my Stradivarius fettle, hoping it will be fine, like yours.

The new novel is entitled The Ace, and it's a 450-page fictional look at the gigantic boondoggle, con game, scam, crap shoot, and fettle fettle that accompanied America's debut in World War I. The focus is on the AEF's airplane drivers and their rigors in the antediluvian fline-masheen castoffs they inherited from the punch-drunk French and British. The manuscript is now en route to the desk of my agent, Sandra Birnhak, in Manhattan, who will supervise the work's travels through the murky labyrinth of today's mainstream publishing world, where, it is presumed, somebody knows what a fettle is.

I cannot be excited about all this. Having been through the mill so many times, I know that it's now out of my hands and I must wait, stony-faced and unflinching, while the merciless herds inhabiting the world of literary criticism eventually add it to their cud. But no matter what the critics finally decree, I'll know that I've given a huge effort my best shot.

Here's how one embattled (and undeniably verbose) American "arthur" put it:

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.

      . . . .Theodore Roosevelt Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

(One wonders where the editor was when Teddy slipped that second sentence past him. And in a speech yet!)

Now that the book is finished, I hope to get back to the flat-bed easel and do some new paintings for both the web site and those waiting patiently for commissioned work. I find it very difficult to doff my writer's fedora in the middle of Paragraph four, Page 4,677, Chapter Skeighty-eight, to put on my artist's beret. So when pregnant with a novel I most usually keep singlemindedly forging on, knowing as I do the price of interruption.

I've found that whenever I exchange paint brush for the old PC midstream, I'm likely to suffer the Dang-blast-it-what-the-hale-am-I-doon Syndrome, whose symptoms are four consecutive days of staring out a window, accompanied by the sharpening of seven boxes of No.1 Eberhardt pencils, the making and consumption of 17 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, the swilling of 45 pots of coffee, the counting of slats in the studio's venetian blinds, the solving of 33 crossword puzzles, the playing (without cheating) of 27 solitaire games, and, roughly, 21 hours of unconsciousness in the recliner.

I've avoided all that this time, and now I'm once again ready to resume my role as Too-Loose La Trek.

Copyright © 2007 by Jack D. Hunter.  All rights reserved.  No part of this document may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.