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Better suck

Wednesday 1/26/22

Something I wrote today from a 3000 word personal essay:

I felt like I was in flux that year, as I came up with my stories. I myself was not solid until I had the latest work. I looked at writing as something you solved. There was that moment when you know fully who the characters are, and what they were going to do, and have done, because they are real, and now they were telling you. You’d learned to sit with them, hear them. The process was one of faith—of knowing that you would be told. And it was a greater faith than I have ever had in anything else in my life. That was when I first became aware of it, that this faith had a power which I’d need to grow into. I was only at the edge. I had to go deeper.

I’d write my latest story, and each day at recess, I sat with Ms. Ferris, and we’d go over my work. Horror was a specialty of mine, but a large-hearted variety; my ghosts were not always there to scare, and had needs of their own, that required meeting. I wrote myself into far-flung corners, but so long as each was a true corner, and it was located somewhere in me—which isn’t to say I wrote autobiography, but rather that I needed to feel the realness, the emotional authenticity—I could find the strands of connection, I could master the relational, and I could trust that the process would complete itself, because of who I was, and was becoming. I realized that it is these kinds of strands that are the most surprising, and the truest to life; they feel both well-planned, and entirely improvised. There is no more potent duality in all of writing, which is itself, at its best, this duality incarnate—because it is profoundly human—and apperceived. And each day, I better understood that lesson.

Sometimes Ms. Ferris smiled in a way that I could see, of course, as she read what I had written, because I was only three feet away, but it was one of those smiles that is meant principally for its owner, on account of what you’ve done, created, given them, or shown as that which can be out there in the world, and I think those are the smiles we treasure the most, even if they’re not technically meant for us. They transcend the mere, meager idea of facial expression; they radiate the gratitude of the soul, and the most meaningful writing is itself a version of this smile that is not a smile.

A text exchange:

P: Congrats on the book

C: It's all hopeless.

P: The book is an amazing thing. You'll look back on this soon and see that.

P: Things are hopeless and horrific right now but it's still worthy and congratulations again

Here's last night's Downtown interview. I talk about a lot of stuff. None of it matters. Nothing matters. Sucking matters. It's the only way you're going to get anywhere, or have anyone say anything nice about you. The better you are, the more you will be shunned. Be the best there has ever been, and all you will get from people, including those theoretically on your side, is their hate, their fear, their silence, and the full blast of their inability to say anything honest to you. Someone said to me the other day that people view me as a father figure, and that's why the people on my side don't say anything. Someone else, on the same day, said to me, "People look at you like you're God. What can you say to God? 'Nice job on the fifth day?'" The net result is that no one says anything, the people who want you dead, the people who theoretically pull for you, the people you're kind to, certainly all of the people on all of the sides who know there's nothing like you and what you do. It's exhausting, and it tears you into ribbons from the inside out. And each day you get up, alone, reviled, envied, getting nowhere, and you create five more masterpieces beyond anything anyone on earth could produce. And you do it every day. And nothing changes. Except you get better, and it gets worse. This is what hell actually is. It's this. It's not flames. It is this life I am in right now. And I just watch people who are so bad at what they do, who haven't s scrap of ability, of knowledge, of insight, of humor, not a brain in their skulls, and no decency in any portion of their person, and they're just so base, and vile, and simple, and ordinary, and they're praised, awarded, followed, paid, hired, precisely because they are so bad at what they do. And there is no one in this galaxy that thinks those people, and this person, are anywhere close to being on the same level. But they're so damn comforting to other people in just how mediocre they are. How like other people they are. I know this guy who is a pretty good guy. We do the same thing, in a very loose sense. And one time he said to me, "I'm so jealous of you." He admitted it. And that stopped him from behaving towards me the way he does other people. You know, giving the little compliments, and praising things on social media, and hitting that like button. I've only been kind to him. I respected him because he was a decent person, and he could admit this, and he understood it to be a flaw. This is one of the better people I've known. A rare exception. And yet, there it was. I think about that exchange every day. If I was bad at what I do, I'd be more successful right now. Do you know what it is like when that's the reality of your situation, and you only getting better as an artist who is unlike any the world has ever seen? I feel myself getting better every day. I can actually feel the power that rips through me growing. And do you know how much that upsets me? Do you know how upsetting it that that upsets me? This is a bad time right now. A bad, long time.


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