My involvement in the amateur press association known as the EOD (yes, the Esoteric Order of Dagon;-)) has given me more pleasure than I can say. The latest pleasure is that this Sunday another member of the Order came and visited me & my family in my home. Fred Phillips is his name, and he had his wife, Dee, with him. We had a marvelous time, with laughter, anecdotes, good food (thanks to my wife, not me) and just plain good, jolly fun in the finest possible company you can imagine. And we had never met before IRL. Yet it was like hooking up with a good friend, and there really wasn’t any awkwardness involved, which it is my experience often is the case if you’ve never met a person before. They came from the US!
This would never have happened if not for the EOD. And, admittedly, the Internet, since we have also swapped e-mails on a regular basis. Isn’t it marvelous?
In the essay “What Amateurdom and I Have Done for Each Other” Lovecraft stated that amateurdom literally saved his life. I won’t go as far as that but amateurdom has played an important part in my life–and without it I probably never would have thrown myself into the stormy waters that small press publication is.
Besides good friends (now also IRL), it has given me tons of inspiration. I have read who knows how many interesting essays and comments about just about anything even remotely related to Lovecraft and his circle… And quite some things about matters outside that sphere as well. And I have had a chance to try writing stuff in a friendly, yet certainly demanding, extremely knowledgeable and intellectually sharp environment about matters that hold my interest.
S. T. Joshi is the Official Editor and the one who–it is a mystery how–pulls everything together and makes sure we all play nice and contribute something. He alone is a giant to be inspired by, of course. But it is not only the professionals, like him, that are inspiring, I tell you. Everyone is inspiring. Because we all have a deeply seated passion for Lovecraftiana and the weird tale.
The EOD is also the first place I officially tried sharing some of my own attempts at fiction… And the criticism is invaluable. (Lately I have only shared such writing attempts to individuals via e-mail, simply because the shadows of Lovecraft do not loom clearly upon the pages of my feeble writings, and I don’t want to impose things too far away from the fringe of our shared interests.)
Derrick Hussey (Hippocampus Press, check it out: http://hippocampuspress.com!) must be mentioned here, for he is the main reason I ended up taking the jump to create H. Harksen Productions as a official publishing company. For years it was simply a little joke on my part, when I assembled my fanzine journal, The Philosopher, for the EOD. I liked to give off the impression that it was published by “some company”… And so I used the, at the time, fake company name H. Harksen Productions. No reason, really, except for the fun of it.
Getting acquainted with Derrick (he was also the one inviting me to join the Order, btw) was really an eye opener. I don’t think I have ever mentioned it to Derrick, but getting familiar with his small press, Hippocampus Press, was my entrance into the whole idea of small pressing. You see, I didn’t even think of Arkham House as a small press. It is, and has always been, yes, but to me–a young man living outside the US, in Denmark–Arkham House was big. Sure, I felt the same with Derrick’s press (I still do, in many ways), but this was the first time I started to realize it was actually what is known as a small press. And, pardon my language, a damn fine one!
Wouldn’t it be marvelous if one could do something like that?
The seed to what later became H. Harksen Productions, with official ISBN numbers etc., was laid. Thanks to Derrick Hussey, a person I have yet to meet in person, but who I got to know via the Internet and the EOD. Along with many other fine individuals from all around the world.
Some of the people in the EOD have even been so kind as to help me with my first, feeble attempts at publishing. W. H. Pugmire and Leigh Blackmore are two obvious writers to mention here–they both kindly gave me some great stories for hplmythos.com Vol. 1, Eldritch Horrors: Dark Tales. And John D. Haefele has decided to join company with me with a couple of his groundbreaking, scholarly projects on August Derleth: August Derleth Redux: The Weird Tale 1930-1971 and the forthcoming A Look Behind the Derleth Mythos (early 2011). (Read more on http://hplmythos.com)
Thinking of things like this, I feel lucky and, well, almost blessed. (I say “almost,” since I do not believe in a Godly being.) It is humbling and very rewarding. And something that helps me through the dark nights of winters & gloomy thoughts, whenever they threaten to take over everything in my life.
I owe a lot–a lot!–to amateurdom.
I have a suspicion that is quite common when it comes to the weird fiction milieu.
I like that.