1.240 stir fever

Tuesday 7/28/2020

This is the first day of the pandemic where I’ve been seriously bored and antsy to be out and doing, with nothing to do. I wrote to Frank at FOPAL hoping he’d come up with something I could work on out in the courtyard. Maybe tomorrow.

I read my essay on “Every day (I update this blog)” to the CH Writers and people seemed to like it. Maybe a few new followers, but probably not. People around here don’t follow blogs they way I do, as far as I can tell. In the essay I referred to Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year (which anyone can download here). Some parallels emerge at once, and some differences.

One difference was how slowly Defoe’s plague moved, owing I suppose to how limited was the ability to travel in 1664. In autumn they get rumors it is in Holland, then in the spring shows up in the parish of St. Giles, and takes months to work its way across London. People didn’t move that far from their neighborhoods, I guess. Or maybe it had to do with the mode of transmission: the Great Plague of London was the bubonic form, transmitted by fleas, not through the air in droplets. That means that to spread the disease requires an infected person to carry their fleas to a new location, or to infect the fleas in another location, which is not as convenient as just sneezing or singing near another person. Of course, once the fleas of a household were infected, all the people who slept or spent time in that house would be infected.

One striking parallel was the immediate rise of quack remedies and their opportunistic purveyors:

it is incredible and scarce to be imagined, how the posts of houses and corners of streets were plastered over with doctors’ bills and papers of ignorant fellows, quacking and tampering in physic, and inviting the people to come to them for remedies, which was generally set off with such flourishes as these, viz.: ‘Infallible preventive pills against the plague.’ … ‘Anti-pestilential pills.’ ‘Incomparable drink against the plague, never found out before.’ ‘An universal remedy for the plague.’ ‘The only true plague water.’ ‘The royal antidote against all kinds of infection’

We’d like to think we’re smarter now than 450 years ago, wouldn’t we? Chloroquine, anyone? Bleach?

There were “astrologers” and others publishing all sorts of prophecies of doom.

Some endeavours were used to suppress the printing of such books as terrified the people, and to frighten the dispersers of them, some of whom were taken up; but nothing was done in it, as I am informed, the Government being unwilling to exasperate the people,


I omitted to mention that yesterday and the day before I received rejections from agents, and another today. Still about half of the 30 submissions still open. I was impressed at first that agents were replying fairly promptly, within a week or two; but now it has been more like six weeks. Of course a few of them just say, if you don’t hear back in twelve weeks, it means no.

A couple of the rejections read as if the agent had actually read the sample prose; others are less specific and might just mean they didn’t go past the submission letter itself. I haven’t much hope of an acceptance, but it would be really nice to have at least one agent ask to read the entire MS.

I was reminded of Pelajis the other day when I read Fried Rice Comic. I keep up a bit with the world of web comics, which is a new creative/publishing genre, barely twenty years old. (So far as I know, the longest continuous running web comic is Schlock Mercenary which started in 2000. There are a few others nearly as old, and many nearing the ten-year mark.) I follow several of web comics with enjoyment. There’s a huge range of artistic and narrative styles, all very different from the old syndicated newspaper comics.

Anyway, the annual Eisner Awards are the Oscars or Emmys of the world of comics and comic books, and since 2017 they have included an award for Best Web Comic, and this year that award went to Fried Rice Comic. If you haven’t read any web comics, read a few pages of that. Lovely, delicate watercolor illustrations, pleasant characters… and nothing happens!! Fifty damn pages (and it only updates once a week, so that’s a year’s worth) and nothing has happened except they go to church and later have a quiet little party.

So my test readers told me that in Pelajis not enough happens. Lemme tell ya, there’s more action on one damn chapter of Pelajis than in a whole year of the Eisner-winning Best Goddam Web Comic of 2020. Also, more jokes. Go figure.

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