Directing; advice requested; "Max's Colossus Proboscis" by Theodore Carter
I need a slogan. I don't like that sentence, but there it is. A few entries ago, I wrote about what a "neoNuma" is, and I've been toying with some ideas as to how I wrap a slogan around the notion of pneuma. I'm not sure that "wind" is a good word to use and certainly not "blow." I've toyed with "a new spirit in the arts" but that's really not true. I'm not cutting edge by any stretch of the imagination. Well, maybe compared to some things I've seen, I'm practically avant garde, but I'm really not about the business of breaking paradigms and pushing boundaries. If I do any of that, it's really an accident. But I do think neoNuma Arts is about presenting good, solid, literature, performance, and art and I think art and creativity is so necessary to anything called a civilization. So I've most seriously considered something like:
How does that sound? Have a better idea? If you do, tell me about it. I don't have much to offer. If you want a book of mine, I can set you up. Or a neoNuma T-shirt or mug or cap.
"T-shirt, mug, or cap?" you ask? Yeah. During an evening of procrastination and displaced effort, I did this:
Kind of dumb, but it was putting this stuff together that made me realize I need a slogan. I think the back of the T-shirts, at least, need something. I was thinking the website big (www.neonuma.com) with "breath art" below it.
So tell me if that totally sucks. Or is totally brilliant. Or at least relatively inoffensive. And like I said, if you come up with something I like better, you could be the first person with a neoNuma T-shirt with the slogan on back.
That's sort of like a contest, isn't it? Huh. My first contest. Well, then.
Last November, when I had originally set the deadline for story submissions for Able to..., I saw I didn't have quite enough stories to make a book, but what I had, I liked quite a lot. So I forged ahead and posted more calls for stories on Craigslist and other places, extended the deadline, and nervously waited for more stories.
Which came, of course. But I also started looking at what I had and realizing I'd set a dumb rule for the collection. I originally wanted to have only one story per author. Oddly enough, more than one author had sent me two stories at the same time, in all cases, I liked both stories, but had decided on only one because, well, I had that dumb rule. One day, I had an epiphany: why am I rejecting perfectly stories by authors who get the premise?
(I pause to note that most of these authors happened to have these stories already written when they saw the call for stories--and I could usually tell from the submissions who had written stories to fit the submission guidelines. This isn't to denigrate the stories which were written to the guidelines and still made it in the collection, but it does point out a piece of advice I would give to most writers: write what you want, even if it seems odd or unusual or un-placeable. Some oddball in Texas might be creating an anthology that's perfect for your vision.)
Somewhere over the winter months, Theodore Carter contacted me and described two stories he had--the kid who ran on water and the kid with the big nose. The water-running kid had already been published in North American Review, so I hungrily asked for the NAR story first, thinking that if it fit, it would give me some "lit cred" to have a NAR story in the acknowledgments (which makes me sound like an 0pportunistic capitalist--and so there you are). Of course I delight in "Jesus Lizard," and would have used it even if it had not been published before, but when I decided that I would double-dip with authors (so to speak), I asked Theodore to send me the big nosed kid story, too.
"Max's Colossus Proboscis" is slightly different in tone from "Jesus Lizard." It's told from the point of view of a doctor who specializes in smelling disorders, and while it has the sense of fun and absurdity of "Jesus Lizard," it also has the doctor's serious tone. While "Jesus Lizard" is a third person narrative that nonetheless has the point of view of a youth looking at the unfathomable and ridiculous reactions of adults around him, Max has the adult looking at the adolescent and recognizing the painful alienation a teenager feels at being decidedly and unattractively different. "Jesus Lizard" makes me laugh, but "Max's Colossus Proboscis" makes me smile and wince simultaneously. Ralph, of the former story, doesn't mean to stand out, but he also doesn't care much about fitting in and could have this sort of exasperated, eye-rolling reaction to events around him. Max desperately wants to fit in, to impress the girl, to be normal, and no matter how ridiculous the unfolding events might be, we also have the heartbreaking reportage of the doctor to remind us how awkward being a teenager can be.
I'm so glad I broke my dumb rule.