Jesus Christ, my prevarication has metastasised. I’m not just prevaricating about the postcards, I’m now prevaricating about my updates on the progress of the postcards. GOD DAMN IT. OK, this is a very short update to say that there will be a slightly longer and more detailed update very, very soon. (Also, Happy Christmas! And Hanukkah! And Kwanzaa! And Festivus! And pagan midwinter sex ritual! And whatever you’re having yourself!)
Basically my life has gone nuts. Last month was pure European pinball, I never really unpacked my little wheelie suitcase. (It went like this: Germany/England/Germany/Italy/Germany/Ireland/Germany/HIGHSCORE!) And, I have just discovered, I have to move country in January. I’ve given notice on my flat in Berlin, and it is full of cardboard boxes. One of the cardboard boxes contains, at all times, a cat. I feel like Erwin Schrödinger trying to move house.
Anyway, it looks like Solana and I will be living in Limerick City for a while, from the end of January, if you live within visiting distance, get in touch. (Long story, in next update…)
Life is fine, it is all good, but oh boy it is hectic right now.
Proper update coming.
Also some postcards.
And! Big thanks to the delightful man who works at the BBC for his lovely letter (handwritten! by post!) saying how much he’s enjoyed my updates, and their insights into what it’s like to be a wildly neurotic writer in the early 21st century, and that I shouldn't worry, it has been far more interesting than just getting the card straight away.
I am enjoying an intoxicating cocktail of shame (he wrote me a letter by hand, but I haven’t even written him a postcard!) and pride. (He likes my writing, so the weird way I live is justified!) I would name him here, but I can’t even find his letter in the chaos of the flat as we pack. (I’ve spent the last 20 minutes looking for it, and all I found was the cat, twice.)
As ever, if you are one of the hundred-odd people who hasn’t received a card yet and you are NOT enjoying this wildly neurotic ride, and your patience has snapped, I totally get it. Message me here, or just email me directly (it’s juliangough, and it’s at gmail dot com), and I’ll do your card in the next batch.
If any Whiskey and Coffee Stain people still waiting for cards are about to move house, it’s OK, they can change their address here on the Kickstarter site.
Lipstick and Bullethole people haven’t received surveys asking for addresses yet, so don’t worry, you didn’t miss them. I'll tell you in an update as soon as they go out.
I was feeling super guilty about the (very expensive) Blood postcard, so I’ve bumped that one up the queue and done it early. Looks great. Real blood. Mine. Owch. (More details in the next update.)
Ugh, no, don’t edit this and polish it, just send it, Julian, stop overthinking. Go write some postcards.
OK, this update covers progress on the postcards, progress on the novel, and a free, illustrated, Procrastination Special PDF for you, courtesy of GREY Magazine.
Progress is slow, but steady. I’ve just sent another 20 finished postcards to Las Vegas today, to be reposted by my book-loving friends there (Scott Seely and Drew at Writer's Block). Mostly $25 (coffee & whisky) cards, plus a couple of $10 (plain old gratitude) cards that had slipped through the net. List of those names below, so you’re not left waiting unnecessarily by your postbox, slowly dehydrating, as hope fades.
Publication of my novel has been delayed from August this year to February next year because my editor, the great Ravi Mirchandani, is, er, a procrastinating perfectionist. MY DREAM EDITOR! So, a year after buying the book, he still hasn’t finished his edits on it. (Don’t worry, he hasn’t been editing my book for a year. He has been procrastinating about editing my book for a year, while he edited other weird literary books, and watched Russian dashboard-cam car-crash compilation videos, mixed in with some amusing Pink Hair Pranks and Cat Fail classics on Youtube, compulsively eating Sour Cream & Onion Pringles in his underpants, like everyone else. DON'T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT.)
When Ravi moved to Picador, the first book he bought was A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the National Book Award). The second book he bought was mine, so I’m happy to wait. Well, no, happy isn’t the word, but I’m prepared to wait. Yes, in my underpants, eating Pringles, damn you. (Oh, I am also getting a set of less anguished suggested edits from my American editor, the charming Daniel Meyer at Penguin Random House, possibly later this week. So shit is getting real... we even have a snazzy cover design, which I have sneaked you a look at, above. Admire that splendid jacket quote!)
This is also the reason there has been such a delay in sending you the opening chapters of Connect (the novel formerly known as Infinite Ammo, and then Infinite). I thought Ravi’s edits would arrive sooner, and I could act on them, and send you the finished, polished, fully edited opening of the book.
So the new plan is: I will send you a PDF of the original opening of the novel pretty soon, and I will send you the revised, polished, edited opening when I’ve received my notes from Ravi and Daniel and acted on them. If you just want to read the second, polished version, then simply don’t download the original, rougher version… but I think some of you would be interested to see how a book changes, and improves, during the conversation between writer and editors, and – as you’ve backed this book with your cash, and helped to make it happen – I feel I owe you a deeper insight into the process that I would normally allow. Just don't stick it up on the internet, or I will get into trouble.
A PROCRASTINATION SPECIAL PDF
Meanwhile, to show I appreciate you, to amuse you this weekend, and to reassure you that I am a procrastinating disaster in every area of my life, and it’s not just you… here’s a free Procrastination Special PDF, link below...
I published a piece called “Filling In A Form” recently, in GREY Magazine. It’s about procrastination; and it’s the product of procrastination. It explains better than anything else I’ve ever written how I feel about writing, and how I tend to obsess over everything I write (including forms, tax returns, and postcards). It is, therefore, among other things, a history of my procrastination.
That PDF is laid out as 6 individual pages, for ease of reading on a phone or small screen; but if you're a graphics and layout nerd, and would like to see the original two-page spreads, then you can go get that as a PDF here. (Thanks again, Brantly.)
Be nice to each other…
THE NAMES OF THE PEOPLE I SENT CARDS TO TODAY
Oh! The names. Today’s batch of postcards went out to:
Eamon Brett (cool pianist & composer); Robin Sloan (the novelist! He wrote Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore! I don't even know him in real life, he's just a nice guy who supports other weird novelists); Martin Conneely of Castleknock; Melanie Nelson of San Diego; Sandra Gross (the delightful Aviva Detroit on Twitter, lovely person); Riona MacNamara (I knew her as a child!); Suzanne Munshower (author of the novel Younger, which has one of the great modern thriller plots: she lives in Las Vegas already, so this won't be quite as exciting for her); Christopher Moody of Austin Texas; Andrea Armfield of Huntington Beach; Karen Broome, the queen of metadata, in LA; Brian Kennemer, one of the fine photographers of Bellingham, world capital of fine photography (my friend the photographer Phil Rose also lives there), up near the Canadian border; Fernanda Parente from just up the road in Berlin; Rhys Barter, of scenic Carnforth in Lancashire; G. Narey of London (I just realised, she edited Belle de Jour!); Andreas Merz, a charming German exiled in Dublin; Mary Mulvey of delightful Dromahair; Anna Lewis of Hove; Kevin Kearney, who hangs out in the Galway Atlantaquarium; Patrick Kelly in sunny, er, Sweden; Allan Cavanagh the splendid Galway caricaturist; and finally the lovely Julia Kingsford who runs half of my literary agency and has kicked my arse a couple of times over my procrastinating, to no avail.
Hope you like your cards...
A NOTE ON THE COFFEE STAINS
The coffee stains are almost all black coffee, because I realised, just in time, that milk is not, longterm, a good thing to have soaked deep into your valuable literary ephemera.
I will send out the final batch or two of Coffee & Whisky stained cards. The lipstick and bullethole surveys, asking for your addresses, will only go out when I’ve cleared the coffee-stain cards. So you Lipstick and Bullet Hole guys & gals can relax, or tense, whichever you prefer. Meanwhile, you should all get a pdf of the (original) opening of the novel in the next week or two.
Obscene wait since my last update, apologies… This one will be functional, as if I start trying to write a perfectionist, clever, funny one, it will take another month. And I’m not going to psychoanalyse the last couple of months: yep, I’m late, I’m disastrously untogether, and I apologise.
$10 CARDS: The people who ordered $10 cards should have got them by now; if not, send me a message.
$25 CARDS (coffee and/or whiskey stains): I sent the $25 surveys out weeks ago, to the 91 people signed up for $25 cards. But I only have 71 of those surveys back, with the addresses I need to post them. So, if you ordered a $25 card (coffee and/or whisky stains). and haven’t answered your survey yet, go find it and answer it. Sometimes they end up in the spam folder. Thanks!
HOW ARE THE $25 CARDS GOING? OK, so I’m back in Berlin, after three weeks in Portland, Oregon. (Long story, involving love, cats, chocolate, and Solana Joy.) While there, I spent some time in a great coffeeshop (Cathedral, in the St. Johns district), writing my way through a pile of $25 cards… I posted the first (randomly chosen)14 while I was in Portland, and have a bunch more half done, which should go out soon. So you aren’t waiting at the letterbox, those 14 cards were sent to (hmmm, I recognise some of these names…. I’ll add notes/links):
Enda Guinan, Karen Shannon, Kevin Levron, Tom Power, Elaine Edwards (smart writer/journalist/human, good on Twitter), Eleanor Hooker (excellent poet, wrote The Shadow Owner’s Companion), Jim Lockhart (he used to play in Horslips! And produce the Dave Fanning Show! And he co-wrote the theme tune to the world’s greatest farming soap-opera, Glenroe! Total dude!), Llaura NicAodh (very interesting artist & game developer), Patti Ames, Christopher Petrilli, Ed Key (he wrote Proteus!), Naomi Alderman (she’s basically an all-round literary genus and wrote Zombies, Run!), Fannie Chen, Anto Casey…
Wow, hadn’t realised how many great game developers ended up in that (genuinely random) batch till I typed them out there…
Anyway, you guys, give me a shout in another week or two if they haven’t arrived.
Oh, I also bought some great Elvis stamps in the St Johns Post Office. Going to use some of those on the next batch.
LIPSTICK AND BULLET HOLE PEOPLE: I haven’t sent those surveys out yet, so don’t worry, you haven’t missed them. But if you are understandably impatient and would like your card NOW, see next section…
IF YOU ARE MAD AT ME: Some people are very relaxed about how ridiculously, embarrassingly long this is taking, and are enjoying the updates; and some people are, understandably, annoyed and grumpy and sticking pins in tiny Julian Gough dolls that they have woven from the clumps of hair they have ripped out listening to my excuses.
So if you are relaxed about it, and can wait, fine. I’m working my way slowly through the cards and, with luck, I will get to yours before either of us dies. But if you are muttering “fuck you, Julian” and really would like your card NOW, then I’m setting up a priority queue. Send me a message through Kickstarter, with your current address, and I will prioritise your card. It will go out in the next batch. Possibly with Elvis on it.
To those of you who are REALLY, REALLY PISSED OFF WITH ME: Sorry. I realise I have behaved badly. Yes, there is no excuse for being this late. Yes, I am an irresponsible, feckless, artist-writer asshole of the sort your parents warned you about. Yes, I feel lousy about it. Yes, I will try harder to actually write the fucking cards instead of just obsessing and worrying about writing the cards. And faffing about with flowers and waterfalls.
WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN DOING? Well, my divorce goes before the judge on April 8th, and should be finalised then. (It's amicable, there are no bad guys; but finalising it will remove a lot of German-language paperwork from my life, and, I hope, will free up some time, and headspace.) My first children’s book was published in January. (Publishing a book is always weirdly unsettling, distracting, and time-consuming, and throws the rest of your writing life off-balance, as editors ask you to write free stuff – blog posts, Q&As, articles – to promote it.)
In parallel with helping promote that first one, I have been proofing the second book in the series, and writing, and rewriting, and re-rewriting, the third book in the series. (It’s on draft 25, and still not finished; a new obsessive/perfectionist record... By the way, after months of work and 20 drafts, I threw away a whole other, earlier, version of that third children’s book, and started again. So it’s not just the postcards, it’s EVERYTHING…)
Meanwhile I am looking for a new flat big enough for me, Solana Joy, my daughter, and a cat. (Solana Joy just arrived in Berlin three days ago, with Aífe her cat, which is exciting.)
Ugh. What a messy imperfect update. LET IT GO JULIAN.
TL;DR: Cards. I’m writing them. I’m posting them. Yes, it’s slow. Yes, they are late, Yes, I’m sorry. But, one by one, they are slowly getting done.
I finally, a few days back, managed to post the first seventy-odd postcards, all from the $10 reward tier. (Photos below!) They are on their way (lovingly packaged in bubblewrap) from my flat in Berlin to Scott & Drew in Writer’s Block bookstore, on Fremont Street in Las Vegas, where Scott (or Drew) will repost them individually in the local Post Office. If you want to follow their flight from Berlin, traversing forest, ocean and desert; over cornfield, cargo ship and casino; flying high above hipster, quipster, shipster, tipster and VIPster, to Las Vegas – they are going by DHL, and the tracking number is RT922657677DE.
THAT MEANS THAT people down for a whisky- or coffee-stained $25 card will get a survey, in the next few days, asking for the address they want the card sent to, so keep an eye out for that, whisky-and-coffee-stained-people.
(And yes, I astonished even myself with the level of neurotic bullshit I had to wade through to finally get the first 70 postcards to the post office here in Berlin. Those fresh delays involved technology, psychology, and sex. Details to follow…)
HOW I DIDN’T TOTALLY WASTE THE PAST MONTH, BECAUSE I USED IT TO MAKE EACH CARD MORE VALUABLE AND FORGERY PROOF
OK, I had decided a while back I should number them all individually, because I figured it would make them more valuable. There is a spooky mystical power to numbers, and to numbered items. They feel more unique. (“More unique, Julian? More unique than just, ah, ordinarily unique?” Damn it, you know what I mean. Each card is unique, but numbering them individually brings that fact into higher relief.) Also, it will make it far harder to make fake Las Vegas Postcards in the future if they are in a numbered sequence. OK, so doing that numbering didn’t take long… So how could I fuck myself up further?
Well, I decided to photograph all the postcards individually, front and back, in high resolution. This was for a couple of reasons. One, Julia Kingsford (of my literary agents in London, Kingsford Campbell) had made me swear I would photograph them all, in case, for mysterious future reasons, I needed a record of the text on them, for some future writing project. And two, I figured a photographic archive would make it impossible for miscreants to forge an extra card in fifty years time, when I have won the Nobel Prize for Neurotic Procrastination (formerly the Nobel Prize for Literature), and the cards are worth tens of thousands of dollars. And three, I thought they might make a nice exhibition sometime: an art gallery wall, covered with photos of increasingly demented postcards. (If any of you are on the run from the law, or your mother, and would prefer not to have your address blown up nice and big on the walls of a Gagosian Gallery in New York, or Tate Modern in London, don’t worry: if something like that ever comes to pass in the future, I will contact you, to check, and can obscure your address if you like.)
But then my iPad was stolen (very unglamorously, and entirely my fault; I left it in a toilet in a park). And it had my only camera, because I’ve deliberately used the dumbest of dumbphones for years, so I won’t get distracted by email/Twitter/kittens when writing. And the woman I love, Solana Joy (who had a camera on her phone) went to Portland, Oregon, for Thanksgiving/Christmas. And I didn’t know any other human beings that I could borrow a camera from, because I’m a lunatic who never leaves his room or speaks to people. But I really needed a camera…
So I shrugged, and decided to finally replace my ultra-cheap, feature-free dumbphone (which is basically the type drug dealers use once and throw into a canal) with an iPhone 6 (because by now iPhones have a ton of features I could really use for writing, and they sync well with my MacBook Air, plus the camera is now amazing, plus I don’t want to totally lose contact with the culture and get stuck in the early Jurassic era with all the other literary novelists, writing about valve radios and the Famine)… but they were just upgrading the iPhone… so I delayed till the 6s Plus hit Berlin, and then it’s hard to decide what provider to go with, and the colour choice, hmmm, if I’m deconstructing the gender roles in early Fantastic Four comics with my daughter, then maybe I should strike a blow against the patriarchy and go for rose gold, which is really pink, OH I DON’T KNOW I’M JUST NEUROTIC IT ALL TOOK FOREVER.
OK. There is one other reason for the delays over the past year, which I have probably not been entirely candid about. But I think, at this point, I’d better tell you, given that it’s probably the main reason for the delays (alongside my neuroses, which I feel I have been pretty candid about).
For most of the past year, I’ve been living with Solana Joy (in Dublin and Berlin), and we have been having a tremendous amount of sex. Basically, the question "Will I write a postcard, or will I grab Solana's ass?" was seldom answered "Postcard!"
Essentially, the cards are finally going out because she’s not here right now to distract me, and it's just not the same playing with yourself. Don’t worry, I checked with Solana if I could tell you all this. In fact, she just said to me on Skype, “You can tell them that if they ever do receive any postcards at all, they can thank me for my sacrifice of self-exile.”
OK, that’s it. Some actual cards are finally in the post. More will follow. (As I've mentioned, the $25 tier is next; you coffee-and-whisky guys will get a survey asking for your address this week.)
You can all console yourselves with the thought that I have somehow managed to make this such a tortured process, I may well never do it again. Thus pushing up considerably the rarity, and value, of your (eventual) card…
I love you all, for your help, and for your patience.
Herry Hanusolstimas! (a coinage of Solana’s mum which deserves wider circulation…)