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The "It" Manuscript

Back in the 1920’s, the “it” girl was magnetically and irresistibly attractive. She had arrived, mostly in the person of Clara Bow as designated by the public relations and advertising copy writers. It wasn’t a new concept; even the mystic Sufis knew what “it” was back in the 13th century. And Vincent Van Gogh, a mystic for all of his short troubled life, used the concept of “it” (het in Dutch) to describe the sensation when a painting had “arrived.” Any visual artist, writer, or performer will understand what this means and how it feels. It’s a kind of ecstasy, a bliss.

Most of the time we are just working, slogging along some would say, day by day. Many drafts, sketches, journal entries, more drafts, a final polish. We get published, or don’t. But even the work that is published may be mediocre compared to our vision, our intention. It’s okay, it works, or it’s good enough.

And then, one day, we hit the “it.” The passage we have written, the words chosen, the whole work has transcended our usual effort. How this has happened, we cannot be sure. A confluence of forces and gifts more than likely.

And so it was with my story, “Will Wonders Never Cease,” about an imaginary encounter between Houdini and Freud. I knew as I was writing that I had hit the “it.” It’s a long story and I didn’t try to place it in any literary magazines. Instead, I ran it as the last story in my new collection of novellas, “Water Baby.” But as the summer waned, I looked at it again and thought that it was very good and that I should publish it in London where it is set. My ties to the UK are long and deep; I lived there for ten years. So I sent it off to The London Magazine, founded in 1732, prestigious. Why not try for the best? And so, dear reader, I sent it off by SNAIL. It arrived in two days and two days later I had an email from the editor to say they’d like to run it in their April/May issue. I was chuffed.

Years of practice. What is certain is that we cannot get to the transcendent “it” manuscript unless we have practiced.

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