This is Robin Jacques' illustration of "Mannikin Spanalong" from the tale of the same name in Ruth Manning-Sanders' A Book of Sorcerers and Spells. Our family has always enjoyed the story and it's diminutive folk-tale character.
I post his image not because I occasionally feel as weary as this bearded fellow looks (I do), but because I've dabbled in writing my own tale featuring Mannikin Spanalong. It's a tale that involves castles, magic, books and adventure in mid-20th century Europe. But it's also a tale that I haven't gotten very far on.
I'm decent at ideas. Not so decent at following through.
I have, in fact, an embarrassingly long list of unfinished short story, novel and screenplay ideas, in addition to the Spanalong tale. Here are most of them, laid bare for the whole world to see (and for anyone on the Internets to steal):
- A biography of Ruth Manning-Sanders
- A screenplay inspired by the life of Ruth Manning-Sanders
- A collection that has, in my head, always been titled York County Wonder Tales and features folk tales reimagined in an alternate, medieval-era Pennsylvania
- A non-fiction guide to off-the-beaten-path locations in Pennsylvania
- A post-apocalyptic tale that's equally inspired by Blue Highways, The World Without Us, and the American Guide Series
- A novel involving a mysterious figure who has settled down to a quiet life running a small-town bar
- A screenplay inspired by the life of late-night radio host Long John Nebel
- A story involving a rock band and time travel, told in the style of Citizen Kane
- A futuristic tale of a retirement village in which technology makes it difficult to differentiate between reality and fantasy (I have also imagined this one as a graphic novel, which is pointless, because I cannot draw)
- A different post-apocalyptic tale, featuring a lone radio operator living on a mountaintop and battling the elements
- A story about a photographer who discovers a way to photograph ghosts, and that technology's implications
- A novel or screenplay very loosely based on the song "Levon," set in the 1970s and featuring some elements reminiscent of Something Wicked This Way Comes
- A science-fiction tale called "The Last Farm"
- A sprawling fantasy epic about a girl named Ruh who travels the lands documenting history and folklore, while slowly learning her true purpose
- An origin tale for a secret or magical university. A place like Hogwarts had to have a beginning, right? Who laid the first stone, hired the first teacher and wrote the first syllabus?
- A goofy vision for a science-fiction/fantasy mashup called Christmaswöld and possibly involving an anthropomorphic Rudolph. (OK, OK, I'm done now. My ideas have officially jumped the shark.)
If even one of those ideas ever makes it to completion, it would be a minor miracle. The problem, other than procrastination and lack of initiative on my part, is time. The amount of free time I have in a given week or month is fairly puny. And much of the free time I do have goes to this blog. I would estimate that I spend three to five hours per week researching and composing Papergreat posts.
That adds up.
As a fun mathematical exercise, I would estimate, conservatively, that I have spent 68,850 minutes working on Papergreat posts since late 2010. (1,530 posts times 45 minutes per post). That's nearly 1,148 hours. Or 47.8 days. Or 28.7 standard 40-hour work weeks. Phew!
This is all a way of saying that if I'm ever going to accomplish some of my other (hobby) goals in life, such as writing something worthy of publication and reading more books, I probably need to spend less time with Papergreat.
So it's likely that at some point in the near future I will scale back my posting frequency. (I had more than 400 posts in both 2013 and 2014, which is a bit of a ridiculous pace.) Maybe I'll write fewer posts, but make them longer and filled with more ephemera. Or maybe I'll increase the frequency of "quickie" posts, which take less time.
Something will change, so that I can devote more energy to other pursuits.
The good news is that I believe that I've churned through a lot of great material and accomplished many of my ephemera-blogging goals through the first 1,500+ Papergreat posts. Sure, I have a zillion incredible vintage postcards that I still want to share with you each week, and I will continue to do so. But, beyond that, my personal to-do list for the blog has dwindled down to:
- Finish the Fanzine Flashback series
- Write about the QSLs of Loring A. Daniels
- Finally write about that damn Seth Seiders book that's been on my to-do list since 2011
So you might see some significant changes here in 2015. But you haven't seen the last of me. And maybe, just maybe, I'll have some exciting news to share with you sometime in 2016. Let Operation Spanalong commence!