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Block out the noise

Sunday 5/3/20

Yesterday I walked twenty miles and ran stairs at Boston College. Today marks 1428 days (204 weeks) without a drink. I have lots of publishers, and I'm not going to identify anyone, but yesterday I let one of them get in my head, and it's something I can't do, which I pledged not to let anyone do. This publisher in the past said I should quit writing, telling me I was brilliant, I could do anything and make a lot of money. Not helpful. I believe I do something at a level that no one has done anything else. I am here to change this world with that. That's what I believe, and the result is something I have faith in. I try to keep my faith in my eventual result. I have faith that something is going to give at some point, through something I'm doing, and when it gives, I will be where I want, everything will go and go fast, a kind of revolution will be underway. I will have my money and all of the recognition I want. In the meanwhile, I hammer away at all points, because I don't know what can instigate the change. I do know that it's not going to be what the course is for any other writer. That course is Yale, get hooked up, be a system person, have fake shit said about your shitty work, hooray, very limited success in this diseased pond. That's not going to be the Colin way. Nothing here is going to happen for the reasons it happens for anyone else. Nothing has. The story in Harper's didn't, the NPR gig, the op-ed stuff. The MacArthur won't happen that way, the Guggenheim, the fiction in The New Yorker. I am unlike all of them, and I am after a result, and ends, that would never even enter the minds of any of them. I am after something so much bigger. But you would be, too, if you were me. The publisher hammered away on this point for a while. Finally I had to say, enough, this doesn't help, you're my publisher, you could believe in me. After which they relented and the whole "quit and do something else" stuff stopped. There are still some comments. Like with the Guggenheim, saying that it's all politics and pose. We were talking about one gay author who is terrible--Lisicky--and the publisher says, "you didn't have a chance." On account of the politics and pose. And it's like...you know. Is it all politics and pose? Of course it is. It has nothing to do with merit. But I still believe I am going to get it, I will be the one person who forces them to make it about merit. Or I'm going to get it after I don't even need it. So that was a little while ago. They are also helpful with some remarks. Yesterday they told me that they believed my time was coming soon. There are certain people--Kimball, Pratt--who, if they woke up one morning, and saw that I was the biggest thing going, and went on in short order to be recognized as this artist changing so much and having impact on various fronts across the world, they would not be surprised at all. I think they'd think that made sense and they'd be glad it finally was happening. I knew a woman named Sarah for whom my work meant a very great deal. But I don't think she ever believed in my outcome. She never once said, "You'll get there." That adds up for me. But this publisher believes in something large in terms of an outcome for me. They read a lot of books that I don't respect. Puzzle piece books. They are dense in that grad school way where you're supposed to figure them out and act like they're deep and you're deep. I don't think they reach people, connect with people. I think the publisher's sense of self is bound up in being someone who partakes of that kind of book. I'm on my walk, and they tell me that they wouldn't read my work for fun. And it's like...come on, dude. Again, not helpful. But they think it's amazing, love it, and believe it's part of their mission to get it to the group which really and truly needs it. I don't think it's "a group." You're in there, in my work, that is, if you're in the world. Many groups. I write for many, many groups. They knew Buried on the Beaches, which is innovative, sure, but it's big, plotty stories. I guess someone might call it realism, but I think that's limiting. And as they go for the arty stuff, I suggest Dark March and The Anglerfish Comedy Troupe. I've known this person for years, so they ask me if those books are like Buried. And again, we have known each other for a long time, I'm your author and obviously not like any other author, and you don't even know what they might be like? And now, they're nothing like Buried. In fact, it's impossible, almost, to believe that the same person wrote them. Then again, it's the most believable thing once you come to know that artist. I find it downright mind-bending that the same person who wrote Meatheads wrote Dark March wrote "Six Feet Away." I don't know how to process that and I live it. I am it. But yes, it is otherwise utterly inconceivable. What people are going to do, though, is see me do one thing, and assume--it's just human nature--that that's my thing. People are going to be reading Meatheads, and they are going to expect that from me. They would never ever think that person could and did write Anglerfish. Just like there are people who love the Beatles who know me only as their main Beatles person. I am sure people out there know me only as op-ed dude. It was telling. Even this publisher, someone I've known, as I said, for years, reads a book by me, couldn't allow that I did something completely afield of it. There's an incredulity hurdle that you have to get over with me. You have to allow that one person can do things that no one else has done. That is not in the nature of people to do. Once you clear that hurdle, worlds upon worlds upon worlds open up to you, are yours. What will help this out as business, later, is just that. The range. Fans can argue about various kinds of books as their favorite or best, and they can be into all of it. But others can come in and have their interest, their passion, limited to one area. Maybe that's the so-called arty, dark fiction, maybe it's the humor, maybe it's the memoir--like this journal, I suppose--maybe it's the music writing, maybe it's the sports writing. Maybe you just want the radio personality and tune in to the radio show when I have one or several. As money-making business, there is so much here. But it's big and it's not simple as in how it is for other authors. It's unprecedented. You need to take a little time to see, think, understand. Then we turn to Twitter. I have no followers on Twitter. I post interesting things, sounding as only I sound, and that's part of the problem. I get what Twitter is. It's people coming off the same way, usually talking out of their ass, trying to "out snark" each other, competing for attention via their quipping ability, using the same phrases and a lot of sarcastic attitude. I also know my numbers. For instance, The Wall Street Journal will publish an op-ed of mine on Tuesday. They are the highest circulation newspaper in America. They will tag me when the piece runs. I will acquire anywhere from 0-3 followers. That is impossible to do if you are not Fleming. You'd acquire however many--a few hundred. Most of the places that publish my work tag me. And it's always the same. Take a look--I have 100 followers. Person who publishes in major venues pretty much every week. Now, I know what the problem is. It's me. It's how I talk, how I think. I know that like attracts like. I know that mediocrity is huge right now. It's the focus in publishing, and it's how Twitter works, too. I write on Twitter like I sound. It's not like anything you'd see anywhere else, it's obviously from someone singular. People, right now, want nothing to do with that. The publisher is telling me--after consulting a sibling--that I need to retweet "more popular people," and find a "big Beatles person" and tag them with all of my Beatles stuff. No. I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to suck your boots. And it's not going to boost the numbers anyway, because I know what the problem is. Again, it's me. I posted about a film the other day called The Boy with Green Hair. And it's a typical tweet from me, whether I'm talking about art, ideas, sports, The Golden Girls last night, as it were. Twitter is anti-grammar. It's not sentences that could come from a great book. People might really like that, it makes them think, I am sure lots of people steal my "takes" on sports and pawn them off as their own in their conversations. But they aren't going to follow that person until it is cool and fashionable to do so. The publisher won't accept this. Says Twitter isn't that nuanced. Nuance has nothing to do with this. I've lived this for a long time. It's a theme constant everywhere. Like attracts like. Mediocrity is in. Greatness is left alone. By greatness here I mean depth of mind, how different one appears to the horde. The publisher then says maybe it's because of the covers of my books I did with other presses being so unusual. Now it's like...what the hell are we doing this time? My covers are so unusual? That sounds bad. Like the covers are these freakshow oddities adorning books that can't be loved by millions, which I don't believe for a second. But the idea that you're on Twitter, you go to the site, you're so offended by the covers of my books that you refuse to follow me...again, this is not helpful. Here's what I think about the covers: They are awesome. Covers in publishing suck right now. I could make most of them with a basic program in ten minutes. They are stock, generic, blase.They all look alike. Remember Print Shop? They look like they were done with Print Shop. Imagistically, you really can't get more boring. I think people are put off by them. I don't think they're put off by a beautiful cover like the one for Anglerfish. What's more, my covers have a relationship with the book, there's a symbiosis. They have a point, they're in on what the work is, which is reflected in the design, the coloration. With Dark March, you can even "read" the cover after you've read the book, and go, "Damn, that's cool." Personally speaking, that is my favorite cover. I think the execution of the cover of Between Cloud and Horizon was maybe a little off, but the idea was good and it would just be overhauled later when a bigger press puts it out, but the other four--I'm counting Meatheads, which isn't out yet--I think are brilliant covers. I think they're covers to become posters and go on dorm room walls, and covers to go into coffee table books of great covers. Look at the cover of The Great Gatsby. A great cover. It's unlike anything you'd see as a book cover in America in 2020. Because it's not stock, boring, blase. (Fitzgerald even wrote it into the book.) But none of this was helping. As it's going on, I was working on the website for four hours. The text on the front page changed, Meatheads is now in the cover rotation on the front page, the News tab is updated. But now I'm going to be told that instead of my site, it should be a blog, with the other stuff off to the side, or else I should just do a blog on Medium and keep the site or something. The problem with the site is that it doesn't display well on phones. If you go to the main page on your phone, it's hard to find the blog. If you're a regular blog reader and you read the blog on your phone--which I would think is kind of hard no matter what, given the lengths of the entries--you probably have the direct link to the blog in your browser, and then it's easy to access the content. But yes, the phone issue has to be fixed. I'm in the process of getting a new webmaster. I think it's a mistake to split up what I have into multiple parts in multiple places. This website is a museum, a hub, a concert hall. A fresh, innovative place to hang out that always has new content being added. Not just the blog. Each section is a wing, another room. The film writings, the op-eds, the Beatles section. You can come in and lose yourself in a given section for hours and hours. You can come here mainly for my works on literature. You can come here mainly for the blog. There is so much for everyone and anyone. Other writers, you must understand, have very static sites. They don't write that much. Every six years they have shitty book come out and their industry insider friends suck that book off. Their site changes then, in that the front pages becomes full of bullshit praise from their buddies and quotes from reviews that are hardly above the level of payola. But they don't have work all the time, they don't have work on all kinds of things, they aren't on the radio all of the time. I understood that I could never compare myself to these people or how they go about anything. Because I have something entirely different. When that is the case, you have to find your own way. What everyone likes to do, though, is tell me how to do it like others. That's not going to help me. It's not germane. People think simply. This publisher thinks simply with this stuff. You can't think simply and get this done with what I have. My numbers in every area are not what they need to be. But look: I was a man who published a short story in Harper's in spring 2018. On the back of that, I didn't sell a single copy of a book. Think about that. And that wasn't my "greatest hit." I published constantly. Published constantly now. But even with a short story in that venue, there wasn't one single book sale. Remember the Easter op-ed in the New York Daily News? Beautiful, right? People cried. There was no uptick in traffic on this site. Someone told me they expected it to go viral. Yeah. It doesn't work that way here right now. I could cure cancer and it's not going to go viral right now. I am the problem in one regard. All of those New York Daily News op-eds over the years have not brought in one new Twitter follower. Think about that. This is what it is. Now, if I had 11K followers and it was time to find a way to make a jump to another level, okay, we should talk about all of this. But you have people actively staying away. That I don't pick up thirty new followers ever is the issue, not that I'm not retweeting enough. Retweeting is the difference, maybe, between having 100 followers and 1500, which is the exact same thing to me. I'm after many millions. With everything. Sales of books, dollars, followers. Fans. The same thing that causes me to have nothing now, can be the same thing that results in me having everything. Does that make sense? When I listen to someone like this--and various people in my life who were bad for me, whom I had to get remove for good--it creates noise. It gets in my head. It makes me question my plan, which I know is the right plan. I'm not going to waste time or energy retweeting or doing Medium. I am going to have faith and stay the course. Because eventually, that thing is going to happen that changes everything. And then, when the people come, when they know that they need in on this and this guy, everything will be in place. Here on the site. Over on Twitter. And I will have my numbers without having wasted time or energy with limited solutions (time and energy which went to the creation of masterpieces, the books, the stories, the pieces, the journal entries, etc. etc. etc.) that weren't going to get me the numbers I need anyway. My work and how it is viewed and the global impact it is having will bring in the numbers. I need to have faith to stay the course and stick with the plan. Also, if you do a great job or something interesting, I will tell you. I will reach out to you. Thank you. Encourage you. But I am not going to tongue your ass if you write bad Beatles pieces but you have 145K Twitter followers. That is never going to happen. That is not going to be a part of the story of how one artist changed the world more than any ever had, who became as popular as anything during a time when they said art was dead and no one reads or could ever care. Just like agents aren't going to be a part of that story, and cronyism, and quid pro quo. I will work with people who hate me who I despise. That's fine. That's business. But I am going to be sincere in what I do, I am not going to prostitute myself or act without integrity. I am in this so deep and have come so far, and I'm not bailing on that now. So: a publisher having a go at my work, my website, my book covers. It's just not helpful. This is why, more than ever, I limit my engagement with people. I have to stay on course. I can't let anyone or anything take me from that, create any kind of hitch in my purpose, my focus, my ability to keep walking that road, which I believe is the straightest road to get me where I am going. I'm going to publish that op-ed this week and a Beatles feature in a huge site like The Daily Beast. Think about that, too. Sports op-ed in huge op-ed section, awesome Beatles feature in site a million people see. More than that. There aren't going to be more than five new Twitter followers. I can accept that I'm the issue here. That's what it is. It's not the visibility, it's not the tagging, it's the person who wrote the pieces. It just is. Okay. I'm a big boy. I want to deal in the issue, not pretend it's something else. The publisher also said I should junk Twitter and just do Instagram. Again, not helpful. Twitter plays to my strengths. Being smart, witty, provocative, in words? And there's a speed element, too. Instagram is just pictures. Again, it's about later. It's about staying the course. What other people would do is quit something. Anything I've ever gotten they would not have gotten even if they had my ability because they would have quit years earlier. With every last thing. They'd dump their blog if it didn't pay off immediately. We are almost two years in with this journal. I've been on Twitter for two years, I think. Later, I think you'll find 16M followers on my Twitter. They will come. I don't know what will make them come, but if I get where I am trying to get, all of that other stuff is going to take care of itself. So, in the meanwhile, I keep going, I stick to the plan, I create like no one else does, in so many areas, I keep trying, and I handle something like Twitter, or this journal, as if, eventually, millions will be coming to this site and that Twitter account every day. Because I believe they will. And I'm not going to panic, and I'm not going to let someone panic me. Having said all of that, for the first time in a very long time, I have been feeling, of late, that I am getting closer to my time, my moment, whatever one wishes to call it. Moment isn't the right word--moments end, often quickly. You know what I mean when I say I am getting closer.


I sent out some things last night, including the partial of the novel Musings with Franklin to a publisher I think could be a good fit. Sent the Lee Konitz piece to Smithsonian and somewhere else. I don't want to burn that piece.


The search feature on the site has not been working lately either. I need to check again. People want to come in and see if they've been mentioned on the blog.