H.P. Lovecraft (YGtCTO Words #73)

Pickman’s Model

Short story written by H.P. Lovecraft

Let’s just take a moment and consider the fact that cosmicism is a thing. I mention this now because it may help place all of the following into some context.

My writing tools bridge major technological changes. I learned how to type while in middle school on an electric typewriter. I had fooled around with our manual typewriter before that, but it was beyond my fingers to develop any speed on the thing. My parents bought the electric version because somebody needed it for school and then it sat around the house until I came along with my school papers.

I shifted to pen and paper for short bursts of creative writing. If I liked anything, then I typed it into a form that could be read by other people. I stuck with the typewriter through most of college, but dabbled with word processing on the Apple II. They had four of them in the computer lab at university. That was the entire lab. They didn’t need more of them. I always found one available when I wanted to use it. Subsequently, I progressed with word processing and much preferred it to the typewriter and whiteout. Even when I idiosyncratically wrote a novel in pen, I transcribed the second draft with the word processor.

Along the way, I discovered that libraries (especially academic ones) accept donations of “papers” from historic and artistic figures. In my experience, the interest that you have in said papers is directly proportional to the difficulty in reaching the library. One exception for me has been the papers of H.P. Lovecraft which reside at Brown University, which has been near at hand on multiple occasions.

H.P. Lovecraft

My interest
in Lovecraft circles around to the fact that everyone seems to think that I ought to be interested in him. I don’t mean people in the street, but any wide reading in genre fiction and you develop the sneaking suspicion that you ought to know more about this individual. After a while, you feel as though you claim to be a huge fan of detective mysteries, but, no, you’re perfectly happy being ignorant of this Conan Doyle person.

It did not hurt that people who wrote about Lovecraft (or expanded on his writings) were good writers who made it all seem very interesting. My first attempts splattered against boredom with the exception of one short story: Pickman’s Model. So, I visited the master’s writings at the Hays Library. Back then, you sifted through a card catalog of the collection and requested a specific box. A formal process proceeded involving gloves and a private room. Frankly, I felt very unworthy. Then, you touched the actual letters and drafts and smelled the mildew.

I think that I sought some sense of what made this person important. What I discovered was a writer doing work that looked a lot like what happened when I wrote with a typewriter. Now, I don;t know about you, but I can sit for hours and watch someone else do skilled labor. They might be great at it and they might not, but I’m really not the person to evaluate. What I respect is the work and the output of something useful.

They have boxes of work by Lovecraft at that library and I started falling in love with the mind that crafted all those words. Words about Lovecraft continue to pile up, but his actual words are finite and it was a privilege to hold them and start on a path toward seeing beyond all the obstruction that has arisen between the man’s work and me.

What’s it all about?

You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 82 more to go.

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