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Friday, 7 June 2013

Good news on the Carolyn Cassady front – and good news for me.

Let’s start with CC. The other day she emailed to say her son John is finally being allowed into the country to see her. In July, I believe. I haven’t heard quite how that worked out, but who cares? It is the desired result.

The second piece of news is that a long piece I wrote about my own connection with Carolyn has finally seen the light of day. I first met Carolyn in 2004, not long after I returned from a spell as Jack Kerouac Writer in Residence in Orlando, Florida ( I hadn’t realised she was still alive at the time, let alone living in England. So I emailed her, visited her, published an interview with her and have been in touch ever since. A couple of times when I was working at Ascot races I stayed with her, drank wine and chewed the fat – about her life, mine, and the meaning of both. Occasionally we talked about the Beats, but not that often. Her own life, as told in her memoir Off The Road, is pretty darned interesting.

It must be six or seven years ago that I wrote the first version of ‘The Road From Then to Now’. In fact, checking through my files, I see that the first version is dated October 2006. It weighed in at 11,300 words. It has gone through several revisions, has sat on the desk at Granta for a little over two years while successive editors decided they liked it but could never quite find a slot for it, and has sweated off 4,000 excess words along the way.  Finally, eight months ago, I offered it to Kevin Ring, owner publisher and editor of the magazine Beat Scene. And yesterday, three copies of same arrived in the post with my story in it – all ten pages of it. There are also a number of articles I can’t wait to read – about Jackson Pollock, Charles Bukowski, 1930s hoboes, the poet Robert Duncan, and Lucien Carr, an early associate of Ginsberg, Kerouac and Burroughs at Columbia in the 1940s. All this – and me – for £4.50. Can’t be bad. Check out the magazine’s website:  I had to laugh when I opened the package. There was a modest but very welcome cheque inside – made out to some other guy. I am assured that a replacement is on its way.

I can’t resist noting that the last time I had to wait this long to see a story in print was when I sold ‘Sky City’ (which you can read on an earlier blog - That took at least seven years.

So… deep satisfaction, and very timely it is too. Today I’m off to York, thence by bike to my mate Chainsaw Phil’s place at Helperthorpe (about 32 miles across the Yorkshire Wolds). Back on Sunday, after which there will be a manic few days before we set off for La Belle France, by ferry (to Amsterdam), train (to Paris and Orleans) and bike (to the Limousin region). By the time we return, towards the end of June, I should have a sizeable deposit from China in the bank, and a large payment from Hodder for the final Mike Pannett book (Up Beat And Down Dale). All of which means that I shall have to begin my new life a a sci-fi writer on the 1st of July.

I like to say, a propos this writer’s life, ‘I may be broke, but I’m never bored.’ By the time I return from France – if the good Lord wills it and the creeks don’t rise - I’ll be neither.

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