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A bog is a good thing

Wednesday 9/22/21

Replacement coffee maker arrived.

Here's a new personal essay in The Smart Set called "Riding the Mare," which is about my history of nightmares, and how I turned those nightmares into artistic advantage.

Here is last night's Downtown segment. I want to go on and on. I really do. I think you have someone so good at what they do, all of the things they do, that no one will say anything about it because all of it is so far removed from what anyone else can do. Listen. The proof with the radio component of what I'm saying is right there. In the history of the medium, no one has ever sounded like this on the radio,. How could you? How could your mind move like that, from subject to subject? It's real, it's hilarious. There it is. Time and again. Among the topics covered this time: "Tell me more about yourself," Miles Davis, baseball and the history of errors, hockey, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, bed and breakfasts, Dave Kingman, this blog, a feature book project on residencies that changed the history of American music, Sam Cooke, the concept of "gunning" for someone, cowards, this website, football, Picasso, The Young Riders, David Ortiz, Jackson Pollock.

I've now written all five of these guest posts for the 33 1/3 blog, for what they call an "author takeover"--or something along those lines--which I assume will be next week or the week after. They're excellent. They total almost 10,000 words, which is 1/3 the length of most 33 1/3 books (though mine was longer than that). I started writing these on Friday, was done by late morning Tuesday. And, of course, I wrote fiction during that time, and an unsold op-ed, and letters, and these journal posts.

I had to write a letter the other night that I didn't want to write to a publisher. But sometimes one simply needs to say the truth.

Works of art that always put life back into you: Meet Me in St. Louis, the Dead's American Beauty, Thoreau's journals, Bach's Art of Fugue, Sam Cooke's "Having a Party," Ella and Louis, Dolphy's At the Five Spot, Ritter's The Glory of Their Times, Vigo's Zero for Conduct, "Help!"

I wrote a story called "Just Not Right Away" that is stunning. Devastating. Only 830 words long. It does so bloody much. This is a work that could go in Longer on the inside, or The Ghost Grew Legs.

I ought to have some book news soon.

I wrote a long, long letter yesterday to some people. I should excerpt parts of it here.

I actually spent quite a bit of time a couple days ago on "The Trellis Wave." Sometimes a would-be final read-through becomes something else. You have to see out every work. The work will tell you. Then you just have to do it.

A truism of life: a Cape Cod cranberry bog is a good thing. Here is a short film about harvesting cranberries on Cape Cod. Makes me want to spend some time with Buried on the Beaches.

A wise person understands that the devil is in the details. But you know something? A genius understands that the meanings of life can be shown through details.

Walked three miles yesterday, ran 3000 stairs.

I don't think that many people grasp the significant difference between not being a bad person, and being a good person.

A portion of the text from that letter:

All you ever have, anywhere in publishing, is stuff a seventh grader could do, or just pretentious nonsense that's also stuff a seventh grader could do (if they were high, or messing about, or throwing in random words from a thesaurus as a joke), that they call "literary fiction" or "experimental fiction," but it's just some 57-year-old professor in Utah writing gibberish that no one can understand, no one can begin to tell you what it means, that no two people in the world could ever read and agree as to what it was remotely trying to say, which no one actually reads, which has no legs, no point, doesn't connect with a single life, who knows the right people in these cliques, and those people are that writer's everything. They're the audience. It's a pretend audience. They teach that person's books, they give some awards, some grants, and then people who are clique-inclined--and only within academic and publishing communities--do some pretending that here's a "deep thinker." It's sad. It's pathetic. But then a committee like the one at the Guggenheim, which isn't actually vetting anything, looks at those awards, blurbs from similar type people, looks at books with the word "ontology" in the title--for like a story collection--and then forks over the award.

There is nothing that is real in this entire industry. There's nothing here. Then you have choices that are made solely because of color and sexuality. It's not the work. But people also like that, because it's surface, and that relieves pressure--the pressure of needing actual talent, working hard, producing. I see people out on dating sites who count getting vaccinated as a life achievement. I don't mean as a wise thing to do. I mean, they count that as something impressive that they've done. That's how low the bar is. That's why the color of your body or your sexual orientation becomes anything, becomes this stand-in for ability. These people don't have ability. (And it's not enough to have ability. You need to work thousands of hours, year in, year out, decade in, decade out, to master it and continue to master it.) It's all other stuff. But one of they key things is providing that comfort. I don't provide it. I provide purpose, meaning, art, experience, life. I provide the very guts and juice and soul of life. I show the meaning of it all. But people also want to measure themselves against me. And publishing people always do. And then they feel awful. That's how I make almost all of them feel about themselves. I am the opposite of who every last one of them is, in every way.

This is going to change, regardless of how they feel. But this is the biggest part of it right now. It's the biggest piece of the pie.


In writing one book in seven days, another in thirteen days, and a third in fifteen days, I had an important realization. The way this works now is, a book for me is a piece for someone else. The aim is to publish more books than anyone else publishes pieces. Even with all of their help and cronies. It should take me a fraction of the time to write one of my masterful books that it takes them to write one of their useless piece of s--- pieces. That's kind of how this is starting to go, but I need to be crossing more books off my list, in terms of having an outlet/pipeline for them, and then continuing to write more. When I break through, there will be books of all kinds flying out the door. There should be like six a year. The novel, the story collection, the kid's book, the YA book, the thriller, the sports book, the memoir, the arts book, etc. And then, maybe being in these hell fires, when I've become something no one has ever been, will actually have paid off. Because if this didn't go the way it's gone, I'm not sure I ever would have been capable of doing what I now do with regularity.


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