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Breather

Wednesday 6/24/20

Sounds strange to say I am having a quick breather from writing by writing more, but in some ways this is not writing to me, this journal. As an act, I mean--not as a result.


I had mentioned--I have mentioned multiple times--that I am working on three major works of short fiction. What I mean by that is I know they are special, and they are written over time. They are longer than some of other stories right now. I work on them in my head as I walk, as I lay in bed. They are timely, they are significant, and I go very slowly with them--for me. I know what they are going to end up as. "Fitty" was a story like this, and "Crossing Deer." I'm not saying they're better than the other ones. But there is something different, even if that is in how they are made. Later there will likely be the anguish of knowing what I have and being unable to do anything with the stories. With these kinds of stories that hurts even more.


As I said earlier, one of those stories was called "Green Glass Door." I've been working on it a lot internally lately, and what I did this morning was to take the contents of the original Word document, copy them, then paste them into a new Word document, and just have at what was there. Slice it. Rip out paragraphs. Shape and intensify. Move it forward, move it forward hard.


I did enough today with it--I see the major work coming through in actual form, I see the parts that are completely done, then I leave off, so that I can have the same energy and clarity to drive it forward again the next time.


What will happen in my head between now and the next time--which is likely tomorrow--is also significant. I don't necessarily have to keep working on it in my head when I'm at this juncture. The reality of the story, of the characters, who they are, what is happening and why, is part of reality now. It's like when you go to a different part of the world, and it's a different time zone, and that time becomes the time for you. In that new place, you're going to have breakfast at the time people have breakfast in that place.Your brain adjusts to that, because reality is reality. You acquire knowledge that arrives like a given, a staple of reality. The same thing happens with my stories and characters. Then when I formally work on the work again, it's the same as going down to get breakfast at breakfast time. The clock and the sun, the mores of the people and the region, do the work in that new place you go to. And everything that comes with that, simply comes with that. This is reality now. If the only train available in this place is at 2:30, I know to catch that train because that is how it is. You acquire the knowledge of how it is, it comes down to you. It's the same with a story like this for me. This happens for me when I go from that point of wanting to be done with the story--because I'm in a portion of the process of figuring it out, learning its reality--to not wanting the creating of the story to be over. Because I am here and this is a good place and it's still happening and I know where we will be together on the last day of the trip.


I went through the Twilight Zone piece on "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" a few times, made corrections, and then sent that to The American Interest today. I really liked this piece in particular. It was well done. There really should have been a piece out today on Ambrose Bierce in The Smart Set, but I don't know what is going on there. They have all of this work from me, and the way I understood it, a piece would be coming out every month, but that's not what is happening, and this piece was supposed to run on Bierce's birthday, which is today. I began one of the Charlie Parker pieces I have to write, which I'll make a push on in a few minutes before I run. I ran three miles yesterday.


Ryan wrote me yesterday and said we could re-tape the Beatles podcast on "There's a Place," if I wanted. He's a very kind man--he's a good person. I think anyone who listens to those Songs of Note podcast can hear that these are two people who have affection for each other. I should be clear that the standards I hold myself to are not the standards that anyone else can or should ever hold themselves to. When it comes to art, for instance. The job being done. I know that I could do a ninety percent worse job of something I do, and there won't be anyone to touch it, if they are operating at 100% for them. Not when words and knowledge are involved. But part of the reason I am what I am, and I create the works I can now create, is because I am displeased with myself when something I do is off, in my view, by my standards, .0000%. It's not about perfectionism, so much as maxing out on unique ability. Which I call doing something right. For me. There have been times, for instance, when I have thought I have done an absolutely lousy job on an interview, say with Downtown. There isn't anyone else who'd be able to tell a difference. In fact, people will write me and say how great it sounded, the best one ever, etc. We are looking at things in entirely different ways. Anyway, figured that some of the things I wanted to hit on with "There's a Place" which I omitted by error, could slot nicely into the fourth of these Beatles podcasts we're doing, when we discuss "Solider of Love," so that's how that is going to go. I say this because this is just my thing, it has to do with me. I'm not giving an overall quality rating of something out there, generally speaking. Yes, of course, I think that people will love this segment and Beatles people will flip for it (minus the people who hate or feel threatened by me; granted, that sometimes feels like anyone else will be in the minority right now). I just evaluate through a very different lens when it comes to myself and what I expect of myself. They are two separate things. You would never wish to be judged by how I judge myself.


Moving on: This is yesterday's segment on Downtown, which is pretty good. It's funny. What I like about this is in one way we're talking about something light--list-making. But then it's not just this light thing, it's not this puff piece conversation thing. There are still larger ideas, thoughts. You can get a lot of out of this--heavy stuff that doesn't feel heavy, light stuff, humor stuff, serious stuff that doesn't feel onerous. I like this kind of thing where it's very dual-participatory. The nature of a radio program like Downtown--many programs, certainly most programs that have a lot of talk related to the arts--is that there are times when it's going to be me talking about whatever. Beethoven, for example. You can make what you say all inclusive, but participation in that conversation isn't as readily all inclusive. Whereas, any of us can go up to someone and have back and forth about favorite smells. I have things I want to cover, get out there, reach people with, put down on tape in a format that I think is a kind of art and entertainment, but it's good to do these more obviously dual-participatory things, too. It also works here because, again, I know that the publishing industry things I am the devil and must be hated, but I am obviously not that way at all, and you hear a couple people who have an affection for each other. Most listeners like that--it's welcoming. I think when publishing people hear that, hear how "normal" I sound, and nice, too--and Kimball is obviously nice--they hate me more. Usually these people have no social skills, they will bore out of your mind, they will pander, they will talk down to you, they are utterly bereft of humor, so of course they hate someone who supplies a quick laugh with ease. They are going to hate charisma. You have to be like them. The less like them that you are--and the more you can do that they cannot--the more they will discriminate against you.


And kind of keeping with the smell theme, yesterday I wrote a full short story called "Hot Road Tar (In the Rain)."


MLB is going to play a sixty game "season," but I still don't understand how this is going to happen with any of these sports leagues. Then again, it seems to be working with football in England. But isn't the whole set-up founded on this idea of no one getting this virus, which is different than being sick? If you start, and then five people test positive, is that over? Because I don't see how people won't test positive. Or maybe that is my ignorance, given that the Premier League is up and running. I wouldn't count on these seasons, no matter what is announced now. It'd be odd to see someone lead the league with 15 home runs. Baseball has become such a boring slog, that trying to figure out how to pace yourself over sixty games--with a mixture of urgency but not playoff urgency--would be interesting. Some not very good team could win with this format.


This guy I know in Chicago named Connor Madigan does such beautiful woodwork. I was looking at some of his new creations on Instagram today, and was blown away. If you gave me a thousand years, I could never do something like that. He made this box for his niece, it was small, this box for secrets--like if you had some special ring you wanted to keep in a special place--and the detail was so lovely.


I had mentioned Dale Arnold recently. Awful on the air, but as a human he seems worse yet--where a soul might be, he appears to have a reservoir of hot air that is put to any Woke cause. Read his comments on the Bubba Wallace thing. Why would you ever believe anyone about anything if you don't know them? I'm not saying you disbelieve them, but why would you believe them? Why would you ever automatically believe a hate crime had been committed when so many are faked, there are so many reasons to fake them, and social media has completely warped the human condition? Has turned so many people into fiends and narcissists and scammers. Has been a playground for people who were those things all along, who can now profit by this, whether that is financially or with attention. The current dynamic is that if you don't automatically believe something, or do something, sans any questioning, you are a racist. Thinking is now equated with hate, with intolerance, immorality. Asking a question is an act of evil.


Ironically, the people running this new system, this new way of things, are true racists. Jemele Hill is a racist. There is no talent or knowledge there. There's a lot of self-hate. But this is someone who makes all of their money off of the color of people's skin. If she can't base her work and her brand on the color of people's skin, she can't be who she is and earn what she does. She's an amazing writer? Obviously not. She has a deep knowledge base in a subject like sports? Obviously not. Can you imagine if your business was the color of people's skin? I wonder how so many people live with themselves. It's like they have to have this internal force-field that shelters them from who they are and why they act as they do. I wouldn't be able to swallow a mouthful of food ever if I was someone like Jemele Hill, I'd feel so horrible about myself and guilty and evil. I literally would not be able to brush my teeth in front of a mirror. But here, in these times, it will make you rich, and then you can cry discrimination, and get richer, get awards, get shows, get staff gigs, book deals. And you never had to have a scrap of talent, a brain cell in your head, or a crumb of decency in your being.


I hope you are not screwed, doomed, if you have those things, and not more screwed, doomed, the more of those things that you have. I think that might be my biggest fear in this life. For me. That is certainly how it has played out thus far. How do you keep going when you're doing the right thing and you're the best at what you do and you're punished for it and they take every single thing from you?


Okay. Breather over. Time for a run, then Charlie Parker. This Parker piece is on his Birdland date with Fats Navarro.