Work In Progress

Blasts from My Sordid Pasts: The Discovery

Hey, Folks.

Some of you who have listened to me babble for years now are aware that I lost most of my early writings through a series of incidents (some accidental, one, in particular, extremely vindictive). This loss haunts me from time to time, even though I realize there’s not much I can do about it at this point. Coulda, shoulda, woulda.

There is one project that I was fairly certain managed to survive. It was a hardcopy of my third “book”, printed out three decades ago. I just didn’t know what the hell I had done with it, despite many nights of sleepless pondering. Amazingly, I still have a digital copy of such, as well, but it’s on several “hard disks”. (Remember those? Sadly, said disks are forever formatted to fit the needs of the fancy “word-processing machine” I owned back in those fading salad days. Said machine died eons ago, presumably along with any support people who could help me translate the recorded data into something usable for modern products.

Believe me, I have tried many times over the years, as new fancy products roll out that falsely promise to aid me in my quest to convert retro data into something that makes sense, to release the unfairly imprisoned words of my youth. None of the products or programs have worked. They all essentially reach the same summation: “That mess on those disks is tainted. Just say a few parting words and launch them out to sea on wooden boat bound for nowhere. That’s how the Vikings got rid of crap that didn’t work anymore.”

Sigh.

Still, those disks, nestled in a molded-plastic flip box designed precisely for hard disks and therefore useless for anything else, have a place on my desk. I fondle the box every now and then, thinking maybe, somehow, but the painful reality stabs at my tortured soul and I shove the molded and moldy box back into its assigned position, next to a box set of Henry David Thoreau novels and a box set of the “I, Claudius” PBS series. (My desk is massive, as any serious desk should be, and the landscape is intricate and well-populated, though perhaps a bit confusing from a thematic perspective.)

Side Note: The “fancy word-processing machine”? It was purchased by my father, during one of those brief, elusive moments when he tried to understand what it was that I thought I wanted to be. I always trod carefully, during said moments, partly because of the rarity but mostly because I knew the list of my transgressions, in his eyes, was long, endless, unredeemable. It was/is always a losing battle, because I never could/can be what he thought I should be. Still, hope floats, despite the height of the wall.

Digressing, digressing, remembering. Where were we?

Ah, the theoretical hardcopy of my third book, printed out on actual heavyweight stock, the kind of stock words should be printed on when you send them to potential publishers, at least in 1990. Where the hell was it? Then, earlier this evening, in a completely unrelated event, wherein I was contemplating the murder-mystery play I penned for Partner’s 40th birthday (he was the victim; the party attendees had to figure out whodunit), something shifted. I remembered stashing some of the stage notes from that play in a little-used, deeply-cavernous doored shelf in my massive desk. Something else shifted, and I remembered seeing, way back in the cavern as I shoved newer things in front of such, a stack of manuscript boxes.

Manuscript boxes. Some of you more long-term writers know exactly what these things are. Back in the day, one used these boxes to send your hopes and dreams to the book publishers, most of whom swatted away your efforts unless they met a specific, demographically-delineated market, even then. Still, those boxes meant something to me, even if no one else.

I raced to the office, threw open the little-used door, and I began tossing aside the obstacles in my quest. Eventually, the floor of said office was littered with all the questionable detritus we cling to, refusing to let go, give it one more chance. (Cleo the Cat dutifully sniffed at the flung nostalgia, unimpressed, as is the methodology of felines.)

I must admit that I squealed a bit, in a manly manner, of course, when I found the manuscript box in the photo above. (Notice how I didn’t even bother to whisk away the clinging dust bunnies before taking said snap. That’s how I found it, that’s how you should see it, despite my last-minute decision to use a nostalgic sepia filter to emphasize the age of the yellowed pages within.)

I carefully opened the box, and there it was.

“Duck Sauce”

Brian Lageose

95,000 words

1990

All of it formatted according to the crazed stipulations of manuscript-submission at that time, with the double-spacing between the lines and the double-spacing after a period and the cryptic way you had to number the pages and… well, it was not fun. Then again, the book-publishing houses could dictate whatever they wanted and only a tiny fraction of writers could get what they wanted. Now? Cleo the Cat could publish her memoirs on Kindle with nary a book publisher in sight and still top the charts. And so it goes.

And what, pray tell, might be the meaning behind my sepia-tinted ramblings in this post? Well, I’ve been splashing around in the pages of “Duck Sauce”, and while I will be the first to admit that the book has some serious problems, there are also seeds of what you see growing at Bonnywood today. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be salvaging the bits of “Duck Sauce” that might still be worthy of some merit. It won’t always be pretty, because nobody knows what the hell they are doing at the age of 25, but there’s something to be said about looking at yourself in a thirty-year-old mirror.

I’ll end this post with the opening lines of the book, unchanged…

“We were happily perched on a bench, made of concrete, smack in the middle of the Main Mall, nibbling on peanut butter sandwiches that we didn’t really want and contemplating the true meaning of a large sign directly in front of us.”

Sound familiar? The opening refrain of a Past Imperfect, perhaps?

Everything old is new again.

Cheers.

 

52 replies »

    • Well, it’s already been a big reveal for me. Back when I wrote this book, I was confident that I was creating a wonderful thing. I did not, But there are some intriguing bits, and that’s what I’m going to focus on…

      Liked by 1 person

  1. You mean floppy disks? Hard disks still exist, not kept in a box. I do remember those, but software is no longer going to help you indeed; apparently those disks disintegrate data after about a decade… Nothing lasts forever, but thankfully paper lasts a lot longer! Looking forward to read more of it…

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a fair question, and I can see why it came about. These things are not the “original” floppy disks, those bendable things with the hole in the middle. These are the rigid versions that came later, but still retained the moniker “floppy disk” even though they weren’t floppy. At the time, I was in the camp that thought they should have another name, so we called them “hard disks”, which is different from “hard drives” that do still exist. Of course, all of this terminology is now somewhat meaningless, as the bottom line is that no current technology can read a disk formatted to a specific word processor that hasn’t been supported for decades… 😉

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      • I understand why you would call them, at the time, hard disks. I do find them floppy compared to the subsequent portable data devices – I managed to bend one once. That cost me a floppy drive’s data, but still.
        What processor were they formatted for?

        Liked by 1 person

        • The formatting was specific to the processing unit (the make of which I no longer recall, but it was the size of a Buick) and did not involve a universal format, thus rendering any stored data obsolete, instantly, if you tried to use the disks with any other system. I had a vague premonition, even then, that I had made a bad decision, but I stupidly persevered with my endeavors…

          Liked by 1 person

  2. There is something rather sweet about rediscovering nuggets from the past. I’m sure when you go through the ghost of Document Past will have an echo of newer writings. Many times one wonders about a phrase or paragraph that simply writes itself. Suddenly you worry about how easy that was. Back, way back in the back of your mind comes that vague knowledge of a time long long ago, in a memory channeled, dredged up from a long forgotten universe- OK, enough Star Wars imagery, I’m getting there- and you KNOW you’re self-plagiarising. Nowadays the shirt is a bit tighter, the hair is a touch whiter but still the same DNA… Different shoes now, but following familiar footprints.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Love this comment, especially the second half, where your finesse with words and images shines through. And, yep, I feel that hint of deja vu when I scribble a new line that is really a ghost of an old line. But if it’s a good arrangement of words, it’s worthy of resuscitation, yes?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Rewrites ARE better. There’s a certain joy in fiddling with a word or phrase or paragraph that never quite clicked and then managing to find the right way to smooth out the rough edges…

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  3. Killing your partner on his 40th birthday? Now that’s the way to celebrate.
    Glad you found your old manuscript. And as my late mother used to say, it’s always the last place you look…. which made me keep looking just to prove her wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I must admit, there was a measurable degree of satisfaction with the figurative demise of Partner. (We’ve all been there, right? We don’t REALLY mean it, but the thought does flitter across our minds every once in a while.) But really, the whole murder mystery was a lot of fun. And the murder weapon? Well, you would never expect it…

      As for finding lost things. it’s been my experience, mostly, that the thing I sought was in the FIRST place I looked, I just didn’t look hard enough…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent!! Now just be careful not to eat actual duck sauce anywhere near those precious pages! Because you just know, no matter how deftly and carefully you nosh, one stray dribble will escape. I’m agog and very highly impressed to know an actual, really real life WRITER (even though we only know each other virtually. Some things don’t have to be said). This is fabulous and I gave that squeal of delight for you – in a very non-manly manner…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, I’m the first one to admit that if foodstuffs/condiments can besmirch my writing, it will happen with me. (Just a few minutes ago, I knocked over my beverage and a gush of liquid swamped my desk. Pathetic but true story.)

      As for knowing real-life writers, you knew one well before me. And that would be you. In a non-manly manner…

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    • It IS amazing. But also kind of scary. I really thought I had it all together back then. (Didn’t we all?) Now I realize that I didn’t have the faintest clue about which garden might be most appropriate for my warped little seeds… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • The manuscript is definitely a time capsule. You think you know who you were, but you really don’t. Still, it’s been a fun trip reading the old pages, equally satisfying and appalling. In any case, I’ll be sharing more, as I always do…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. OHMYGOD!!!
    Seriously, Brian, I AM SO FREAKIN’ HAPPY FOR YOU!
    Yes, yes, please share as much as you want. Your readers are thrilled to partake, as usual.

    And in keeping with that magical bit of kismet we share – a couple weeks ago my daughter texted me saying, “remember that book you wrote?” (It was my first (and only) attempt at writing a book and I let four people read it, she was one.) She encouraged me to use this stay-at-home time to do the editing, and just the thought that my 25-year old daughter thought it a worthwhile book… well, I decided to give it a go. It’s terribly amateurish, painfully so, but there’s some bits worthy of merit. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • First, it thrills me that you are so exuberant about my archaeological find. I am as well, of course, But it’s lovely that you can identify with the joy of my successful digging. As for the thrill of my readers? Well, we’ll see. I have a tendency to overdo themes at times, and I might need a good slap upside the head…

      Second, and I’m trying to be subtle about this, YOU SIMPLY MUST SHARE YOUR BOOK WITH ME OR I WILL REND MY HAIR IN UNENDING ANGUISH. Wait, that sounds like a lot of work. But still. I’m glad that you are finding “bits worthy of merit”, as that’s exactly what I’m doing whilst I piddle with what I wrought thirty years ago…

      Liked by 1 person

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