Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Thursday, November 16, 2006


So I blame VanderMeer, Williamson and Raines for this. How so? Right, well, one of 'em starts up a pirate anthology which sounds way cool, and I start writing a story for it. Cause pirates are neato. Then one of 'em tells me his idea for a pirate story... which I obviously won't say anything about but which also sounds way cool, enough that I wish I'd come up with the idea. Then the third gives me, as a birthday present, the double album of sea shanties executive produced by Gore Verbinsky and Johnny Depp. You know those explosives or poisons or whatever, where there's three ingredients each individually harmless, but when you put them together it's BOOM! or g-g-ack! or suchlike? Yeah, exactly.

Anyway... clearly, I think, the album will be excellent background music for the finishing of aforesaid pirate story of me own which (having been put to one side in order to finish off another story) I need to get "back into", so to speak. I've already got 4.5K of it. It's just a matter of clicking back into the flow and seeing it through to the end. Simple, neh?

Except by the time the first disc of the sea shanties album is finished on my CD player, I have, of course, opened up an entirely new file on the PC and am writing a sea shanty... because well, it's not like I have tons of shit to be doing already, and there's this back-story to the pirate story (origins of the "pirate gods" of Matelotage and Mutiny, basically) and, ye know, that back-story could be done as a ballad, and maybe a few verses of it could be thrown into the story to add flavour, and, and, and...

...and 43 fucking verses later, I now have a 3000 word sea shanty which I'm buggered if I know what to do with. 3000 words! 3000 sodding words! It's 43 fuckin verses, fer the love of Christ! What the fuck am I supposed to do with a 43 verse sea shanty?!?! It's longer (and with more plot actually) than some of the frickin stories I've written, but it's not like ye can submit a 43 verse frickin sea shanty to a lot of venues.

Dear Editor(s),

Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! "The Ballad of Matelotage and Mutiny" (3000 words approx). Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Yers sincerely,


I think not.

So, anyone got any ideas about where one would send a 43 verse sea shanty (bearing in mind that, it's by me and is therefore somewhat, um, bawdy in places)?


Blogger Brian Malone said...

Actually, yes. Send it to the Slushgod, who is guest editing an upcoming pirate edition for (the relatively new) Shimmer Magazine.

4:20 pm  
Blogger neil williamson said...

Oh sure, and you're absolutely not responsible for having the mental resistance of a soggy tissue, are you?

If we told you pirates were known for jumping off the Kingston Bridge, I suppose you'd do that too???

btw In the interests of full disclosure, I admit that I have also "committed shanty" in the past. But in my case it was not only for the background of a story (cf The Codsman And His Willing Shag), but the story was ABOUT a group of shanty singers and it was only six or seven verses in length. It's still shameful, though.

4:22 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Brian: I thought of Shimmer, but they've got an explicit "no poetry" in their guidelines, and I rather suspect "but it's not poetry; it's shanty" would be disingenuous at best.

Neil: I didn't know Kingston had a bridge. Does Tortuga have one too?

4:42 pm  
Blogger Brian Malone said...

Eh, so take out the line breaks :) Voila! It's "experimental prose".

4:46 pm  
Blogger neil williamson said...

Tortuga has a bridge. It's built from the bones of misguided tars who tried their hand at the local karaoke. These words are carved into the gate posts: "Born free... died screaming."

4:57 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

"Born free... died screaming"

I sense a coded message there. Well, never mind, I have a whole new song to sing while drunk at conventions. And it's 43 verses long.


5:12 pm  
Blogger neil williamson said...

Well, except that you'll keep forgetting where you are and having to start again. In fact, I'll be so bold as to bet that not finish one complete course of that (highly entertaining, it has to be said) shanty during your average convention weekend.

See: I'll bet you a bottle of rum. It'll be NICE rum too.

5:33 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

I'll just sing whatever I remember and call it an "arrangement"; that's how shanties work, innit?

Better still, I'll just sing the dirty verses.

As fer the bet, though... I have a hard enough time keeping one sonnet in memory, never mind 43 verses; that's a sucker bet.

6:07 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could try

No Quarter Given

Pirates Magazine

Sing Out!

Dirty Linen

9:44 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


We'd absolutely consider it. Please send immediately!


2:25 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Er, or whenever. Or if you want, guv'nor.


7:25 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Cheers, all! Looks like it's got a home in Farrago's Wainscot, which is cool because it looks like a great wee project, exactly the sort of thing that appeals to me.

Mind you, the thought of a handsome Irishman like Damien Rice singing about matelotage... heh, I like!

7:59 pm  

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