Conscious, but Little More
Proceeding along the Mr Earbrass cycle
You may not have read Edward Gorey’s excellent The Unstrung Harp, or, Mr Earbrass Writes A Novel. I hadn’t, until Elizabeth Bear introduced me to it as, “the only accurate work of fiction about the writing life,” or words to that effect. She was not wrong!
The story, told through classic Gorey illustrations with accompanying captions, follows renowned novelist Mr C(lavius) F(redrick) Earbrass in his peregrinations from conception through publishing of a gothic-eque mystery-ish novel named The Unstrung Harp, or TUH.
Midway through his adventure, Mr Earbrass finally completes the first draft of TUH. (The fact that we are, at this point, only halfway through Gorey’s narrative, is one of the book’s many finer accuracies.) “The next day,” continues the book on the following page, “Mister Earbrass was conscious, but little more.”
Apropos of nothing, I finished the first draft of Wicked Problems, the second book of the Craft Wars trilogy, yesterday afternoon.
“He wanders through the house, leaving doors open and empty teacups on the floor. From time to time the thought occurs to him that he really ought to go and dress, and he gets up several minutes later, only to sit down again in the first chair he comes to. The better part of a week will elapse before he has recovered enough to do anything more helpful.”
Mister Earbrass, of course, does not have a toddler to care for, and does not appear to be responsible for the day to day maintenance and upkeep of his estate, Hobbies Odd, near Collapsed Pudding in Mortshire. Still, I sympathize. The oddest thing about this condition, I’ve found, is that it as difficult to work up the will to rest, as it is to work up the will to do anything else. One fritters. Leaves doors open and empty teacups on the floor.
My great success today, in this light, has been an in-home meditation retreat, a practice a friend read about in Tricycle Magazine that amounts to lying on the floor in your bathrobe with the lights dim for “at least two hours, but three to five is ideal.” If one is to leave empty teacups on the floor, one might as well leave an empty self on the floor, at least for a little while.
The afternoon is cool and gentle and gray. I might take a walk, or write a letter. I plan to spend the next week on vacation, fallow, collapsed. The world will wait, for now.
A few housekeeping notes:
I plan to shift this newsletter to another platform soon—Ghost is the most likely, since Buttondown does not have commenting features. If all goes according to plan, your experience should remain roughly the same.
I thought I had more, but nothing’s suggesting itself at the moment. Teacups, and open doors.
Take care of one another. Keep that hope machine running strong.