To everyone of us there must come a time when the whole universe will be found to have been a dream, when we find the soul is infinitely better than the surroundings. It is only a question of time, and time is nothing in the infinite.
Turning in the Direction of "Better"
I'd spend a few minutes at my friend Holly's gallery opening joking around with a woman before deciding to give her my card. Her eyebrows quirk. "Is this your pen name?"
"No," I assure her with a laugh. "I am legitimately a Quackenbush."
She is quiet for a second. "Do you know anything about Artificial Gods?"
My friends report that my face then fluctuates between a number of hilarious expressions of confusion and delight. "I should hope I did," I finally stammer out. "I wrote it. How on earth do you know it?"
She thinks back and attributes her knowledge of it to a female nursing student she met at a community college. I construct a circuitous route in my head of how this could have happened (my brother is a perpetual nursing student and might possibly have mentioned my writing to someone in one of his classes who then transferred to a different college, but this is a longshot), but I am left with the idea that strangers might genuinely know who I am, even if they cannot know me on sight.
I am giddy afterward, pointing out to Amber that no one had to pay this woman to mention my book.
It is rare that I am recognized. The last time it happened was after a local newspaper did a piece on me, and it was more that Amber-who was photographed no doubt because she makes for a prettier picture-was recognized than that I was.
No one asked for autographs. I have yet to stumble upon a stranger in the street, her nose buried in one of my books. However, the possibility if this happening outside my dreams is increasing.
Days later, I am in a craft store-one with wifi, fortunately for the purposes of this entry-with Amber when my phone alerts me that I have an email from someone ostensibly asking after the film rights to a short story I wrote a couple of winters ago. From the subject line, my title all in caps, I assume this is a sort of spam that will go immediately into the trash. It is not a long message and my title persists in being all capital letters in the body, signaling a form letter, but there seems to be a fluttery chance that this is legitimate.
I forward the message to a few people to look over while I research, but the internet mentions little about the company that would be cause for concern and a few press releases from fifteen years ago that establishes this as a real company connected to one of the Big Five publishers.
I switch to my Facebook to ask my friends if they have any experience with this company but find that she sent the same message there. I click the sender's profile and see that she is very much a real and normal person, which is reassuring. Perhaps she isn't going to attempt to spring a membership fee or demand I sell my rights to her, something I will never do.
After sleeping on it, I reply that I am the sole representative for my short stories and she responds that she will have her client contact me directly.
I am too often negative about the progress I am making as an author. I do not help this by following on social media several authors who exude unrealized privilege and luck. However, very gradually, I am beginning to get somewhere worth being. I have another novel coming out in the next month or so. While Amber has been doing a read through of the exceedingly rough draft of the subsequent book, I have been pounding out a few entries to keep my hands busy. My experience at No Such Convention was as successful as last year, though I heard that most people did not feel the same way. (Though, even greater than the dozen sales I made was when someone stomped up to my table and grumbled at me for the twist ending she just read, demanding to know if this sort of offense would reoccur as she read more of my work. I shrugged and wished her the best, a smug grin barely repressed.)
Every time I see my therapist and cannot immediately regale her with a trauma to discount, she asks me how my life could be better than it is. (This is not the right tack to take: I love my wife, I write regularly, and I am purposeful-I just have a chemical imbalance.) I have told her three times that my life is gradually turning in the direction of "better," which this week has more than shown. I am becoming legitimate.
Soon in Xenology: Art.