A very limited edition

I might well have intimated previously, it can be difficult to get published. Oh anybody can copy their work onto the harsh brown wrapping paper used by so many of those who deliver parcels. But even if you use good ink, it soon fades. However enthusiastically you tout your work, you’ll be lucky to be offered more than two or three dregs for it, and that from somebody who does deliveries and reckons to use the paper again for its proper purpose, just as soon as the ink has faded.

But when dealing with printers and publishers they adopt an entirely hardnosed approach to your work. They care little for artistic verisimilitude. Indeed they show no concern as to whether it represents an authentic voice, or even whether it hides within itself immortal couplets which will return over the years to haunt the reader’s imagination. They merely care whether they will get more for printing and selling it than it cost them.

I must admit I can understand this attitude. Yes, I would be the first to encourage a printer to invest that unexpected bequest from a forgotten sister of his father’s in a nicely produced set of matched volumes of my verse.

Mind you, if he frittered his capital away on producing something by Lancet Foredeck, I would be the first to mock him as a fool. Yet in all candour, Lancet’s work would sell as many (or as few, it is all in the attitude of the observer) as mine.

So you can see, getting anything published is a real labour and not undertaken lightly. Yet thanks to the efforts of Still Battol I discovered that I had had a work published of which I was unaware. As you can imagine, this came to me as a genuine shock.

Still Battol should need no introduction, but in case he does, repair to https://tallissteelyard.wordpress.com/2019/07/05/the-inadvertent-creation-of-a-poet/

He sought me out in the Misanthropes where I was sipping a glass of wine and listening to a difference of opinion on some matter of importance to poets. In all candour I can no longer remember whether it was verse forms, cleavage, or the importance of being paid immediately one arrives for a performance. I refrained from taking notes, secure in the knowledge that when I quoted the disputants later, none of them would be able to vouch for whether they had said the very words I might report.

Battol sat next to me and with a smooth and graceful action, picked up Lancet’s full glass from the table next to us and drained it.

“Tallis, some news for you from Partann. You have been published in Much Blispit.”

“I am gratified.” Then I asked cautiously, “Where is Much Blispit and what have they published?”

When the word ‘published’ was spoken the room fell silent. Battol elucidated. “It is a small village some miles south of Prae Ducis. I visited there by accident looking for the kin of a consignee who had unfortunately died before she could accept delivery (and make payment for) a crate of erotic novels, many written in the previous century. Much Blispit is small, but it has one book shop.”

“It is indeed a blessed place,” I muttered with what I hoped was fervent enthusiasm.  

“It is indeed,” Battol agreed. “But it is off the beaten track and nobody travels in books that far south. So the shop struggles to get stock. Hence much of what they produce is produced on their own press.”
“They have a press? Indeed a remarkable place indeed.”
“To be fair, having looked at the work of the press, I can only assume that they carve the text onto turnips or similar and use them where less imaginative printers use lead type.”
I waved his objection away with a casual hand. “It is the quality of aspiration that matters, not the quality of the metal.”
Battol proceeded. “I noticed that one of the works they had published was Lambent Dreams.”
“And not a dreg of it have I seen.”
Battol bowed, “I suspected as much and stepped in to remedy the situation. I asked the owner of this fine emporium for a price for the work. He went pale and asked, his heart in his mouth, whether I would not just like to hire it like everybody else. For apparently there is only one copy, and it is hired for a dreg a day.”

I shook my head sadly at this. Battol continued. “I asked him about its popularity, and he admitted that it was rare he saw it, indeed it had returned to him only that morning. So I took it down and perused it. As far as I can tell, it is a full copy, and between ourselves, they may lack technique, but they are second to none when it comes to accuracy.”

That at least I found gratifying.

“As I examined the document, a lady standing nearby commented that whilst she liked the work, there was much she felt she was missing. Without hesitation, I opened, almost at random, and starting reading the poem I found.”
At this point I knew these folk were in for a treat. Battol reads with rare sensitivity.

“I read two or three of your works, and by the time I finished I had gathered a fair crowd. All wanted me to read more, so I gave them a couple of your lesser verses I have to memory. But when they wanted yet more, I painted a picture of the poet, starving in his garret, unsure where his next dry crust will come from. I may have exaggerated for artistic effect because some of the ladies were weeping and one of two of the men looked embarrassed. Finally after some discussion, they said that they would hold a collection for you. Half an hour later I was standing next to a pile of sausage, homemade bread, sundry root vegetables, bottles of preserved fruit and jars of homemade jam.”
“Well I quite wondered what to do about it because whilst some would keep, some wouldn’t. Anyway I exchanged it all for a good Much Blispit cheese.”
With those words he opened his bag and pulled out a cheese perhaps twice the size of a man’s head.

Well you can imagine the hooting, cat calling and laughter this produced from the rumbustious audience. I let the noise die away naturally and then rose to my feet, preparatory to leaving. (After all, my glass was empty and I had no money for more.) I picked up my cheese, no small task given its weight, and addressed the unruly throng. “At least I am paid. Only erotic dancers should work for exposure.”
I bowed and left. The cheese was excellent.


It is entirely possible you may wish to know more about the life and times of Tallis Steelyard.

Available on kindle

As a reviewer commented, “What’s a poet to do when one of his lady patrons is being blackmailed and his own life may be at risk due to his actions in defending another from attack some time in the past.
How are both these events connected?
Well – read this tale and find out – trust me, it’ll be time well spent.”

14 thoughts on “A very limited edition

  1. Payment in good cheese sounds like a fair exchange. Though I would hesitate to do a day’s labour to only be paid in Cheddar. Not having enough money to buy bread to eat it with, I would soon tire of cheese alone. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s