Introducing 'The Jazprose Diaries'
Essays, memoir & commentary by an award-winning writer from the Deep South with priors in print journalism, talk radio, and TV news. Loves jazz. Writes prose. Jazprose.
Welcome to The Jazprose Diaries!
In this first episode, you’ll meet Andrew Jazprose Hill—that’s me! Today, I’ll tell you about something really powerful that happened to me back when I worked as a TV newscaster in San Francisco. And how that changed my life forever. I’ll also tell you about my soon-to-be-released novella called Amanuensis, about a young woman who flees England to escape World War II, but finds herself unable to escape herself or the future she was afraid of. I’m looking forward to sharing this podcast with you and engaging with your comments in the days ahead. Thanks for checking out The Jazprose Diaries!
Once upon a time…
While I was working in television news, I had a life-changing experience. I was covering one of those “stories of the century,” which seemed so important at the time. Like most of my colleagues, I worked really hard every day to bring viewers the “latest.” The next day, I’d get up and do the same thing all over again. I believed the work was important. Because the public had a right to know. I felt privileged to be part of that process. Also, I was paid really well.
And then one day, I stepped back and looked around at all this scurrying about. In that moment, I saw everything as if in slow motion. I was not on drugs, and I was not drunk. I was more sober than at any time in my life. And I felt that I was seeing clearly for the first time.
Aristotle called this peripeteia.
The moment when the protagonist realizes that everything he’s believed up to that point is wrong. James Joyce called it an epiphany, a moment of illumination. Playwright Eugene O’Neill once referred to it as a lifting of the veil. And yes, I know these later writers meant something a little different from Aristotle.
The thing about having a moment like this, by whatever name it’s called, is that it presents you with a choice. You can drive off in your Mercedes and pretend it never happened. Or you can face it and follow its truth wherever that leads.
In my personal peripeteia, I understood that the news we were all working on so hard would mean nothing in a day or two. The printed versions would wind up as fish-wrap or be used to house-train a new puppy. The broadcast versions would disappear into thin air like smoke up the chimney or those visions conjured by Prospero at the end of The Tempest. You know the line: “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little world is rounded with a sleep.”
In Aristotle’s peripeteia, recognition ushers in reversal.
Oedipus blinds himself and wanders into exile after learning that he’s murdered his father and married his own mother. That his children are also his siblings. Fortunately, nothing so dramatic happened to me. In my peripeteia, I simply hit the brakes and did a U-turn.
I resigned from television news and set sail for a place where the stories I worked on might last a little longer than the 6 o’clock news. The destination I had in mind was literature, which Ezra Pound famously described as “news that stays news.” Traveling in uncharted waters, I soon learned that the distance between the shore I started from and the one I hoped to reach was an ocean.
After years of navigating the estuaries of day-jobs and the eddies of freelance journalism—scratching out a few middling books along the way, I returned to graduate school to study creative writing, received a fellowship, and even won first prize for one of my short stories in a nationally recognized fiction competition.
But this is not the place to go into the details of my journey.
That’s for my diaries to tell. For now, I only want to give you an idea of how I got here. And why I hope you’ll find something of interest in The Jazprose Diaries, my new publication on Substack, a cutting-edge subscription service that directly connects readers with writers they're interested in.
The Jazprose Diaries is part of my ongoing effort to write fiction and essays that linger a while. To connect with you in the place that matters. Where your heart is not all that different from my heart. And the things that separate us diminish beneath the sweep of what we have in common.
You’re receiving this email because…
You subscribe to my blog or have already signed up for news about my upcoming books. And because I want to let you know, I’ll soon be publishing a short novel called Amanuensis as a serial in The Jazprose Diaries.
As a free subscriber, you’ll automatically receive Part One of Amanuensis in seven daily installments when it’s ready for publication.
Each installment has a reading time of 2-to-5 minutes. There are 36 installments in all. After the initial seven days, the installments will stop. If you’d like to continue reading the novella, just sign up for a paid subscription at $5 per month, or $30 per year.
No worries if a paid subscription is not for you.
There will always be plenty of free weekly content in The Jazprose Diaries and in the subsection (or Substack) called “Short Takes,” where you’ll find my short stories as I publish them. Unsubscribe at any time. We’ll still be friends in the morning.
The old is new again.
Did you know that most people spend 15 minutes a day reading a book and 3 hours streaming movies? That’s the way things are now. It’s how we live these days. Fortunately, the Substack platform provides a way to fit books into our new way of living—one chapter or essay at a time. For instance, one installment of my novel takes less time to read than a scroll through your Instagram feed.
Earlier, I described Substack as cutting-edge. But serialization is nothing new. Many famous books were published this way, including The Count of Monte Cristo, A Tale of Two Cities, Phantom of the Opera, War of the Worlds, Madame Bovary, Ulysses, and In Cold Blood. Long before Tales of the City became a Netflix TV series, it was a daily newspaper series in the San Francisco Chronicle.
I'm especially excited to be able to interact with you as the chapters appear.
I want to hear from you. Armistead Maupin had already written a big chunk from Tales of the City before learning from a reader that the name of his famously transgender character Anna Madrigal is an anagram for "A man and a girl." Maupin later included the anagram in his story. I'll be listening for your ideas in the same way.
I don’t understand how algorhithms work.
But I do know that when you hit the LIKE, COMMENT, or SHARE buttons that appear at the top of my stories, you help other readers find me. Today’s world is all about engagement. So let’s engage!
It’s an honor to be able to share my stories with you. I hope you’ll stick around for awhile.