swords of the infinite
I had to explain recently that I don’t have an archive, or any papers. Unless someone can track down the rental housing in which I left deposits of a few hundred books & two or three mouldering Eastlight boxfiles at roughly ten year intervals along a painstakingly self-destructive biographical curve, there remain only a few damp 1970s manuscripts in storage somewhere in Islington. If you found those drafts they would prove to be obsessively neat & lacking in added value, because they were as much the result of an invisible process as any published book. Typed single-spaced, no margins, 1000 words to a page on sheets of coloured paper slightly larger than foolscap, with a very few corrections in longhand over TipEx, which was a bit like trying to write on icing sugar, and with only the odd sellotape join, now brown and dessicated, to remind people that cut & paste used to mean exactly that, they say nothing about how they got the way they are. Or they’re the opposite, all process without issue, & feature a single sentence, typed out mercilessly over & over again, each version on a one-inch strip of paper carefully torn from the top of the page while it was still in the borrowed Olivetti, different by a single word, or perhaps not even different by that, as many as fifty of them, far too many for a sentence in a seven thousand word story which would appear in a collection called Swords of the Infinite! & for which the author would be paid thirty dollars. The only thing I keep is the journal on which Climbers was based, because that has other meanings for me, being a record of a life and the decade-long sewing together of a piece of work which, though it ended up being less than the life, tried to be more. A bit like the suit the killer is trying to make from the skin of his victims in all those serial killer thrillers. & of course, while the journal on which it’s based survives, complete with additional evidence in the form of some strange looking polaroids, the book itself is out of print; an interesting reversal of the process described above.