categories: Bad Advice / Cocktail Hour
I was sitting here musing the other night, and mulling (my friend Peter Campion told me on the same night that mulling refers to the medieval practice of heating an iron rod or poker white-hot and plunging it into your alcoholic beverage—instant boil, and instant vaporization of the alcohol, and so an efficient delivery of your musing fluid), that is, I was sitting here somewhat mildly fluthered (Irish for shitfaced, which I realize is a kind of absolute—I mean, what could “mildly shitfaced” actually mean?), anyway, sitting here pondering among and amid my bookshelves, and I thought, Think how far these books had to come to get here! Published all over the world, printed even moreso, tens of thousands of book-miles!
And I thought, I really ought to be reading locally.
And then the thoughts began to fall, brain dominoes: Does that mean, what, like, Eastern Seaboard? Or does it mean something tighter, like New England? Or tighter yet: Maine? Western Maine? Franklin County? Or just Farmington, where there are plenty of writers for a lifetime of dedicated reading. Or, now wait, maybe that’s just too far-flung. How about just the western half of Farmington? Or even maybe just my neighborhood, say, 200 yards diameter? But, thought I, I can do better than that! What could be more local than this: my house!
We do have a writer here, after all. Actually two writers, counting Elysia, who is more prolific than I. But she’s in the next room, and of course, that’s just not local enough. Local is going have to mean right here, on this couch.
Can I, the only local writer couch-wise, produce enough verbiage to keep myself busy for the rest of my life?
Why yes, I believe so.
And of course, that implies writing local. So. I can’t go around using a computer made in China, even if Steve Jobs is Mona Simpson’s actual birth brother. And I can’t use electricity, since little of that is made right here.
An acquaintance has his washing machine hooked up to a ten-speed bicycle for relief of off-the-grid washday drudgery. But it’s exhausting, all that pedaling, especially the heavy duty cycle that off-the-grid living requires.
But certainly there’s no reason I couldn’t hook a laptop up to an exercise bicycle and generator and pedal while I type. After all, my legs do very little while I write, and are they not part of the local economy?
Then again, as the Read Local! movement burgeons, my fans will be reading local too, finding writers closer to them, or becoming writers themselves in order to serve the new markets the movement will develop.
Revelation: Strict Read Local-ism means this: I don’t need more than one copy of whatever I write.
Can’t use a pencil—they are not made in this room.
Can’t use paper, ditto.
But there is a birch tree in the yard and I don’t think it’s stretching ethics too awfully much to run out there with my Leatherman and peel off a few sheets of bark.
With charcoal from the fire–right in this room, not two steps away–I can put words down on bark. Words just for me, for the one person who can read my handwriting!
You can’t get any more local than that!