Fragments Side-Car: SubStack Now Live!

I’m trying to reduce the friction for peripheral writing while attempting to focus on the main train–the completion of additions and editing for Book #3, now in active revision towards publication–in a year, maybe. So if you subscribe to Fragments via email, you might find the substack consumption as or more rewarding in the next 12 months. Read on, blog-friend, and come along for the ride!

Why subscribe?

Because it’s lonely at 3 in the morning when I get up. Because I find or think or wonder all sorts of things, and sometimes my light comes on, and I really need to share. Because having a conversation is impossible if it’s only me. Because you are as curious as I am, but don’t dig for treasure in the same holes that I do, and I think you’ll take what we exchange here and then do your own digging. That’s why.

What You’re Likely to Read At Fred’s SubStack

  • I have been writing about sense of place for twenty years in my blog, Fragments from Floyd—from the same place: Goose Creek, a remote and rugged part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Floyd County Virginia. And in June ‘20 we moved. Where? Why? and how is that settling in at 72, being detached from the familiar, the comfortable? I will share the thrill of victory, and the agony of not being able to find my winter hat–probably until April.
  • I’m determined to publish a third book, and have a signed contract and an editor. I have never written alone, and don’t intend to start now. I need people reading over my shoulder. I will post excerpts—maybe some full chapters if I go with the paid model at some point. My subscribers will be first in line to get their copies of One Place Understood ~ A Field Guide from Home
  • I am living in one of the most interesting places in the mountain south at one of the most perplexing, chaotic and rapidly morphing periods in human history. We live close to the land and to each other here in Floyd County, VA, and some chapters of the play book for the “localization” model for the New Economy will be written here. Stay tuned in the near term for the Blue Ridge EcoFair, offered to the world community by SustainFloyd. You can get a front row seat before the doors open if you subscribe.
  • And to add to this very incomplete list, I am a year into use of the most remarkable tool (Roam Research for a “knowledge worker” I’ve come across in almost three decades of computer geekery. It will assist me in providing you with fresh fodder for thought, conversation and action. And I will enjoy both the journey and the destination.

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A Pocket Full of Seeds…

The link at the end of this post is to a newly-published story is about water

…is not a garden.

And maybe 75 stories, essays and sylvan ramblings does not make a book. That is the judgment, I think, in the minds and profit-making needs of perhaps most publishers of books.

They are used to (and see their readers as being willing to pay for) books where Part A leads to Part B leads to…and there is a kind of start to finish nature to the book. That is not so for my existing books nor for the one I kind of hope to be published.

Several publishers I’ve gotten initially excited about “publish titles related to the practicalities, politics and processes of sustainability.” My book is neither fish nor fowl in this menu.

But the non-sequential reader format has actually been kind of a strong point for Slow Road and What We Hold, and many readers have told me that they like the fact that the book can be picked up and opened to any page to read that one short piece (they will be a bit longer in book #3).

On the other hand, you would not be completely able to read the future book backwards, since there is some memoirist material that starts with Finding Floyd, and then has several installments interspersed throughout.

The other possible deal killer is that the book does not fall into a clear subgenre of narrative non-fiction. Slow Road Home was shelved as a “travel book” because it was “about place.” And so finding “‘comparable titles” in a book proposal is made more difficult.

I won’t bore you with other grumblings as question the time and effort of find a “real” publisher and reconsider self-publication one final time. Much has changed in that field since 2009 when What We Hold In Our Hands was delivered off the truck from Edwards Brothers.

Meanwhile, some seeds are being disbursed at least. I did have one bit of the new book reach reader-eyes, including yours, if you wish, in a lit-mag called The Write Launch.

Finding Water | Creative Nonfiction by Fred First | The Write Launch

Status: UNK

That’s not exactly right. FUTURE status UNK, but when is that not the case? Just sometimes more UNK than others. And we are in one of those times, I suppose, on Goose Creek and on Planet Earth.

Where do we go from here?

Our time and energy of late has been centered around the (now failed) attempt to find housing options nearer town and with more “aging in place” options at 71 than we needed when we refurbed this place at 51–twenty years ago this coming Thanksgiving, just ahead of Y2K.

And in face of putting the house on the market THIS WEEK (which did not happen), we have had service folks–plumbers, carpenters, painters and HVAC–in the house, or expected at the house whether they showed up or not–for a month or more. We have been creating maximum disorder in every room to bring about a greater order. Eventually.

And to totally distract us from our home-transition woes, the very evening of the day we learned we would not be making an offer on The Place, we heard a noise on the front porch just as we were turning off the lights for bed.

And it was Mosey (as she is now called) who had appeared (origin and pathway to Goose Creek: UNK) to announce that she had arrived at her Storm Home, and please show her to her room. She was 10 weeks old upon arrival, the vet says, and way under-nourished and clingy. Not those things any more.

So now, as I attempt to shop around 8-10 of the bits from the increasingly-likely new book, I have a kitten in my lap, on my shoulder, on my keyboard, under my feet or lurking somewhere on my desk. If we were to rename her at this point, it would be Mehitabel (Bel for short)–an alley cat who presided in the cutting room of a large newspaper, and whose stories were pounded out by a longsuffering cockroach named Archy.

With regard to the “seeking publication” efforts, I have sent off a few, am looking at submission deadlines of others and matching topical submission requests with the subject matter of what I have available.

Then, PRESTO! Only six months or more later…

“Dear Mr. Frost, we are unable to use your submission in our publication, finding that it is devoid of coherence, purpose or any readership interests we could possibly identify. We encourage you to leave the essay in question buried in the deep structure of your hard drive where it can do no harm. Best of luck in finding a hobby more within your skill set than literature. “

Honestly, I expect one in five might see the light of day. I’ll get back to you on that–provided the blog survives upcoming relocation mandated by circumstances beyond my control. I don’t want to wipe 17 years of words (mostly front-loaded to the period ending about 2010) go extinct. Future status: UNK

Upcoming months may find Fragments a good place to share book excepts, notice of upcoming speaking events and the like. So hoping for a life extension.

Stay tuned!

Blogging: Of Language and Light

You’ve known people, surely, that if they had to keep their hands in their pockets, they couldn’t tell a story.

I’ve just realized that part the reason for the dearth of blog posts over the past year is because I’ve had to keep my hands in my pockets.

Photoshop 5 (at the end of more than a dozen years of upgrades) has finally stopped working after being maddeningly frustrating for more than a year. I can’t tell you how many draft blog posts never saw the light of day because I gave up trying to get a low-res 600 x 800 pixel image ready to post.

Good bye, Photoshop. No thanks, Adobe, I will not pay $120 a year to subscribe when I can own Affinity Photo Pro for $40.

So yes, all my muscle memory and actions and routine of a dozen years is useless, and I’m climbing up the learning curve on wobbly legs of a day-old fawn.

And so no more excuses (but not necessarily a whole lot more blog posts than recently). But my photo-life shows promise. The lack of tools to work with photos has been so severe that I have simply stopped thinking of taking them. Much of the joy of taking an image has been working with it to fully express what the light “felt like” or “had to say” about the subject. I’ve lacked that voice, and now have it back.

Meanwhile, I’ll be pouring more time into finishing up the writing project–the purported book. I may have changed the working title, and if so, will have to adapt some of the preface and foreword to reflect that minor shift in center of importance that this creates.

So much shop talk. Blog on!

THE IMAGE: My first exploration with Affinity, I pulled up a random picture–of spikenard, a relative of Ginseng–taken on Goose Creek Run. The mirror filter created the kaleidoscope effect. And it was really great news to discover that Topaz filters could be manually imported from Photoshop into Affinity, and the painterly effect was from that tool. Adult play. Keeps me off the streets.

Finding One’s Place

HeresHome

The title is the name of the first section of what I once imagined–and still sometimes am certain–will be a book whose title will be “One Place Understood.” The first chapter is Finding Floyd.

When I wrote this in early 2016, I was making good progress and had a clear vision of the end for this project. Then the presidential campaigning began, culminating in the election that abolished many a dream–of writers and lovers, of nature and science advocates and of the truth-oriented community from all walks of life–who like me,  abandoned their heart’s work in disbelief and recoiled in horror at the spectacle that is America crumbling before them.

But I am trying to recover from all that, even as it proceeds to deeper and deeper levels of decay. I vow to regain my footing, to re-envision the full and complete and final saying of what it is I want to say in this third book of the trilogy from Goose Creek. But then, I have vowed such things before.

So, at least this morning, my thought is that I will put some of the completed rough drafts on the blog–which will make me un-roughen them in another pass; it will make me somewhat accountable, at least to the handful of blog readers who hang on. And even in the absence of readers, the blog is a life story that will outlive me, even if the book never sees the light of day. It is a tepid legacy, but more than many find the time or the words for. Why stop now after only 16 years of blogging?

Blog readers tend more and more to read less and less in any given place. So if you want to read this first 1000 words, you can find it at Medium.com where, if I can sustain the motivation and find sufficient interest, I will compile some portion of the book for pre-publication consumption. Should Iive so long…

FINDING FLOYD: Chapter One/Part One ~ Finding One’s Place
…from a possible book with the possible title:One Place Understood: Field Notes from a Small Planet

And for the sake of keeping up with the Big Picture of this bit of story-telling, and mostly for my own sake, I’ll append a link to the mind-map of my current thinking about the book’s structure. Just click the image:

One Place Understood mind-map brainstorming of possible structure and content.