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The ten thousand things and the one true only.

by Kip Manley

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Two-in-hand.

So! Yesterday I finally wrote the last three paragraphs of no. 24, hurrah. It is just over eighteen thousand words long, which means there will have to be some cutting, but I’m not thinking about that right now. I’ve got another fifteen thousand-plus to write by January 3rd if I want to get back on schedule, and I’m still not sure what’s going to happen in the second act, much less the third, and I’m wondering if I should maybe so something to map out the middle ground to make sure I’ve got enough story but also enough room, like work up some fronts and countdown clocks, à la Apocalypse World?

While I’m over here—oh, let’s not call it procrastinating—I could maybe do something nice for you, like, I dunno, reveal the titles of the next few fits—

the thin ice; vilissima et infima; two sweetest passions; only borders lie; tends to crumble; Hands of an Angry; shiver and headache

—with, mind, the understanding that such things are even now subject to change. On a whim, even.

A note about the (most likely) title for no. 25, this one I should start typing on here any minute. —It comes from a Nabokov quote you’ll find littered all over the web:

Literature and butterflies are the two sweetest passions known to man.

—which always seemed a little, well, on the nose? For him? —So I went a-googling, to find the source, and thus whatever mitigating context, but that’s a little hard to do, what with the shorn quote itself being pasted up on every Tumblr and Pinterest and LiveJournal etc. etc. etc. Perseverance was called for, and eventually delivered. —A footnote ascribes the quote to an interview conducted in July, 1962, by Peter Duval-Smith and Christopher Burstall for the BBC, but the video isn’t on YouTube (that I can find), nor the printed transcript that appeared in the Listener; the only trace of it is Nabokov’s own transcript, which he reconstructed to weed out the inaccuracies he felt littered what had been printed by the BBC—and this famous quote? Appears nowhere in Nabokov’s version. —There is a passage it might’ve adorned:

You’re a professional lepidopterist?

Yes, I’m interested in the classification, variation, evolution, structure, distribution, habits, of lepidoptera: this sounds very grand, but actually I’m an expert in only a very small group of butterflies. I have contributed several works on butterflies to the various scientific journals—but I want to repeat that my interest in butterflies is exclusively scientific.

Is there any connection with your writing?

There is in a general way, because I think that in a work of art there is a kind of merging between the two things, between the precision of poetry and the excitement of pure science.

—but really, it would only have been so much sugar. “The precision of poetry and the excitement of pure science” is much better—but “two sweetest passions” fits more neatly in the space allotted.

And so.


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