I wrote another story this morning. I don't know what I have. I set it aside.
Also wrote the "Great, good luck" op-ed.
I began reading "Fitty" all over again, for There Is No Doubt. The first section. Going section by section. I changed one word. The other stories have been gone through rigorously fairly recently, and that was after having some time to sit and me to come to them fresh again, so I really don't have to do anything, but I do want to do the relentless routine with this one again. I'll say this too, because it's true: If I'd written nothing else in my life, "Fitty" would be the best thing anyone has ever written. Further, that's understatement. There is nothing by anyone that comes close to the level of this work. I'll keep reading. I don't want so much as a comma to be off. "Fitty," as much as anything, when it comes out, when it is seen, when it is beloved, will illustrate the bigotry I was dealing with all along at all of these places and with all of these evil people. You'll look at this story, and you'll look at what they printed. And that will be everything. That will say it all. I say it all, I cover it all, I document it all, but that one example--that contrast which is more obvious than anything else can be--will be the perfect single-item proof of what I've had to deal with and how corrupt these people are.
This is from the op-ed:
I have a number of rules I live by that have grown up in response to how so much interaction now unfurls. For example, I won’t say or write anything to someone unless I’m okay with seventeen million people also seeing it.
That doesn’t mean I’m in the business of pulling punches. It means I take extra care. I will defend myself—and that can entail going on the attack—when I have no choice, lest my principles and self-respect be compromised.
And: I will take no bait.
Try to come at me with any toxicity, just barely disguised, or any manner of passive aggressiveness, and I will “Great, good luck” the hell out of you, which is so damn convenient. Then we are done.
No one can carp about what a loathsome person you are. They can’t share your words and be like, “Do you believe how awful this person is?” or pepper their talk about you—not publicly, anyway—with their learned terms like “douchenozzle.” People would laugh at them.
But they know.
There’s this tremendous sequence in one of C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower novels when Hornblower, as a young midshipman, has to deal with a bully. He’s scared of him at first, but eventually he gains more success and confidence, and the two fight a duel. The bully cheats and fires before he’s supposed to, which means that Hornblower gets a free shot. He raises his pistol and shoots straight up into the air, telling his adversary, “You’re not worth the powder.”
That’s a “Great, good luck”!
See? Effective. Foolproof. Everyone knows what it means, and as cool as the “Great, good luck” is as a three-pronged piece of language, there’s the larger idea of your own self-regard, which you’ll not allow anyone to poach.
Right now I am working on a story called "Birthday Month," which is of The Longer on the Inside variety. I have been working on it for what is for me a long time. Been pretty ruthless the last few months going through things again, and again, and again, and again.