Interview with Thoth, God of Lit. ~~ by Raymond St. Elmo

Interview with Thoth, God of Lit. ~~ by Raymond St. Elmo

Took ages to find him. I’d ask at writer’s conferences, libraries, weird old book-stores. Searched online. Most said Thoth quit, he’d died, never existed. Or sold out to Amazon, was running a bed-and-breakfast in Thebes. I gave up. One more god crossed off the list.

Then at a bus stop I notice this bag lady reading ‘The Egyptian Book of the Dead’. I don’t usually talk to strangers, but that book? It’s like the first fantasy novel game-manual. We chatted, she dropped a few crazy hints, then trundled her shopping cart away. The wheels squeaked like harpies giggling.

So I found the god of writing. In New York, in the alley back of the Random House offices. I don’t think that was irony. The spot happened to be sheltered from the wind, with a good steam-vent and dumpsters stuffed with slush-pile rejects you could read or toss into the trash-barrel flames. Pretty sure one of those manuscripts was mine. I always print my submissions on ivory paper; expensive but gives the MSS an old-scroll feel. Not that editors even send a reject email. Snobs.

Thoth was a tall guy in a couple of coats, a ragged hoody, long beak of a nose sticking out. He wasn’t alone. Fellow homeless stood around, warming hands, debating the worth of what they found in random pages of manuscripts before tossing them to the fire. A lady wearing ten sweaters hummed in Greek; she might have been Thalia, Muse of Poetry. But mortal or deity, we stood together staring into the flames, listening to city sounds: sirens and cars, trains, planes and the eternal wind.

At length I asked Thoth: how did it all begin? Not what was the first story; but why had some lunatic made up that first tale? He took his time answering. As the gods do, when they answer at all. At last he spoke, in whisper low and sing-song as the wind.

“It began just like this. A circle of lonely eyes staring into flames. Hunger in the belly, fears for the dark beyond firelight’s edge. A circle of survivors who saw no story in life but this: eat till you are eaten. And then, and then… some conjunction of thought and sound and heartbeat came. I remember far-off a wolf howled, while fire-wood shifted, sending sparks to the stars. And a sick child coughed. And some man or woman began talking to the flames. Someone who felt suddenly filled with wonder, yet drowning in worry. Wonder for the joy that is this life, and worry for the sick child. Who’d feed them, fend away the wild dogs? And when it became their own turn to be sick, to fall behind in the hunt? What then?

“And so the first story came. Words out the mouth. With plenty of hand gestures, I recall. I forget the tale itself. Some tangle about a forest, a spear and a monster that could only be defeated by a tribe working together. A hunter, a farmer, a pot-maker, and a funny dog who kept stealing the scenes. A mess that needed blessing from the Muse of Editing. It seemed an absurd waste of breath to those practical survivors about the fire. And yet… the idea stuck. Caught, as fire does. They had a vision of a united tribe, caring for one another. Life as a tale finding meaning not in surviving, but in helping to live.

“You ask what was the seed of that first tale? Caring. At least concern. But give credit to the dancing flames, the circling dark and the wolf-howl wind. Most of all to the heart’s cry that life must be more than sparks rising, vanishing, gone.”

I stood there silent, weighing Thoth’s words. Not the first time someone has claimed the origin of storytelling is in the heart’s tangles, not the brain’s wrinkles. Nor that the highest stories turn our heads from the pages, to look at one another with new eyes, with opened minds. Bit old fashioned, I suppose. I’d expected something more grim-dark, but perhaps that’s a style for a darker age.

I was just about to ask the God of Literature if he’d review my new work-in-progress but the cops came, blowing whistles. They put out the trash-barrel fire. Arrested the Muse for being an illegal, confiscated my manuscript though I explained it hadn’t even had a chance to be tossed to the trash yet. My third tazing over a review this year. The rest scattered. Haven’t seen Thoth since.

But I like to think he has a high opinion of the One Million Project.


OMP Admin Note: Raymond St. Elmo is a computer programmer living in Texas. A degree in Spanish Literature gave him a love of magic realism. A fascination with artificial intelligence gave him a job. His books tend to be first-person fantastical accounts with frequent references to William Blake, Borges and PKD.


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

It Is Not Widely Known ~~ by Raymond St. Elmo

It Is Not Widely Known ~~ by Raymond St. Elmo

It is not widely known that Napoleon Bonaparte wrote a romantic novel: “Clisson et Eugénie”. A young man’s classic dream of love, war, and death. Publishers were skeptical; ‘Not exactly world shaking’, said one. “Needs more ‘umph’. Give the hero more pain, adventure, suffering.” Bonaparte nodded in Gaelic politesse.  Later as Emperor, he had the entire publishing staff drafted into the infantry, sent to Egypt where at last they found the adventure, pain, and suffering that eluded them in the submissions pile, merely reading about life.

Had ‘Clisson et Eugenie’ been seen for the work of potential genius that characterized Bonaparte’s military campaigns, the Sphinx would still have his nose. Louisiana would still be speaking French. Probably America would still be speaking English, instead of American.

A fact even less widely known is that Jason Greenfield is a Napoleonic scholar, for all that short Corsicans are a constant hidden theme in his writings; a theme Greenfield himself is shy to admit, or perhaps has simply never noticed.  But to the initiate it is no surprise that the ‘One Million Project’ began with the Short Corsican himself, when the newly crowned emperor called for the uprising of the commons,   Bonaparte said to Josephine, “Consider, mon chere, if just one million miserable, dirty worms of the earth will commit to the Revolution, we shall be in Moscow by Christmas, and celebrate Emperor’s Day in London.” A moving speech, dans la Francais.

The million never arrived, the war ended, the worms of the earth turned to other things. And yet the ideal lives on. For OMP is a brave march through the cold wasteland of formulaic fiction. This Grand Army is divided into three forces: Fantasy, Thriller, and Fiction.  Their goal: a far-away, just over-the-horizon victory for research into cancer. For those who have lost loved ones to lumps, lymphomas, and Leukemia, this goal suffices. For they whose eye has become trained to search for ‘oncology’ when entering a hospital, the enemy is a foe to face with sword drawn, teeth barred, no quarter given.

But for us the writers and readers, it is the bugle-call itself that thrills the heart. L’emperor Greenfield has gathered forces that are, in fact, revolutionary; and the fight is sheer fun, fear, and fantasy. The stories in this year’s OMP collections defy all easy commercial pattern, all the tradition of pre-digested packaging of plastic fantasticality. Here are wonders of mystery, of horror, of comedy and tragedy; without a cliché to shame the front ranks.

Strange, that our cliché of madness is to fantasize about being Napoleon. Not a nice person; but imaginative and energetic. A dreamer with a sword; and definitely, the hero in what he wrote.  ‘Everyone is a hero in their own story’, goes the cliché. Perhaps. But better to be a hero in another’s story. The OMP is a march of storytellers and readers alike, to be heroes to the sick, and those fearing for the sick.

How easy to fantasize the victory march; how easy to turn fantasy to practical effort. A bit of out-of-the-box writing; a few clicks on the ‘purchase’ button. Even a review; Sacre-nom de Dieu, it’s enough to pose on a park bench with an OMP copy, eyes wide with just appreciation. Read, write, review, purchase thrice and start anew. Rise up, millions! Think big!

There is room for all beneath the Victory Arch.


OMP Admin Note:  Raymond St. Elmo is a computer programmer living in Texas.  A degree in Spanish Literature gave him a love of magic realism. A fascination with artificial intelligence gave him a job. His books tend to be first-person fantastical accounts with frequent references to William Blake, Borges and PKD.


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology