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Trying

Friday 6/11/21

* I have nothing today. I am just exhausted. I am just emotionally and spiritually exhausted. I don't think I slept more than three hours any night this week. I haven't been outside in days. I've just been at this desk. Trying.


* This week I have written two full short stories. Put 2500 words to a new one. Completed another in "Seedless Cherries" by essentially doubling its length from 1800 words to 3400 and going over it many times. I've written an op-ed about a TV show. Started a John Coltrane feature. And wrote 7000 words of a chapter for a Beatles book.


* Then there are all of the people I've written. And pitched. And begged. And offered stories to, essays to, op-eds to, books to.


* Plus these journal entries, of course.


* I touched up a story from last summer this morning called "Bucket Crab." It's about a girl who plays street hockey with her friends, and for a puck they use crabs. We can assume this is very northern place, like some tank town of Canada. She takes the legs off the crabs, and squishes their eyes so they don't have to see what's happening to them. And before they go into the game she says this kind of prayer of, "It will be over soon." The girl's mother is paralyzed, and she lives with her parents, apart from the girl and her dad. They are her caretakers because they're retired. The dad works this excessive amount. We're not told why. But we can draw conclusions. He wants to bury himself in his work. He's trying to get enough money to be able to afford what he'd have to afford for treatment and a nurse or whatever. The father and the daughter make this drive once a week to see the mother. She's not changing, and the father is not changing, but their relationship is changing, the girl tells us. It's change without change. A great mystery to her. The crabs all split in two and it usually doesn't take long. Always a clean break. No blood. Just that white meat, what she compares to the color of seagull feathers. But then there is this one crab who does not split in two. He's the puck for like a week or more. She didn't squish this one's eyes, and it sees all that is happening. Every night, after the kids are done playing, they put the crab into a bucket of sea water. His eyes sort of look up towards the surface. And when she goes to visit her mom, she makes the boys put the crab back in its bucket and use a different crab, because she wants to be there when the bucket crab finally splits in two, if it ever does. It's a beautiful story. A part of Longer on the Inside: Very Short Fictions of Infinitely Human Lives.


* "Ugh, you are such an asshole." That's what I say to myself when I start in on myself when I am so exhausted and feeling like I just want to die, when I have no hope, and I also say to myself, "Well, you're just fucking sitting here, you useless bitch, are you telling me you can't just make up an awesome story and write it? You can't do another right now? Holy fuck are you weak." And then of course I invent a work of pure genius and write the story. So that just happened. Another one. Baseball story called "The Heat Bringer."


* I went over another story from last summer called "Sea Stone," also for Longer on the Inside. I touched up a phrase. Sometimes I know I'll need to fix things--"Pillow Drift," for instance, recently changed a lot--and other times I'm simply like a doctor with a stethoscope, moving it around, saying, "Okay, breathe" and making sure all is right. There might be matter of a word choice, but it's usually very small. A judgment call now that time has passed. The Longer on the Inside pieces represent pure reading. You have to read them. You can't just glance at them. You have to let yourself go into them. They're not to be read while distracted. They're not for the subway, perhaps. You have to be with them. You have to be present with them. If you are, I think the pieces and the book represent the truest reading experience, and the deepest reading experience, a person can have in their entire life. They are the writing version of being fully present in a moment, and you have to to be as well. Thinking about using the last two lines of the Grateful Dead's "Box of Rain"--the most beautiful song ever written to a dying person--as an epigraph for Longer on the Inside: "Such a long, long time to be gone/And a short time to be there." People need to see this motherfucking book.