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Do what you can to keep going

What are the chances that someone who writes "In my humble opinion"--or, better yet, uses the acronym IMHO--is not passive aggressive? I'll say 20%.


There is no heat in here. I tried and failed to turn it on yesterday. The plumber may come today, he may come tomorrow. This is always humiliating, for someone to see how I live. The state of this apartment. Yesterday it was learned that someone in the building stole a package that a record label sent me containing a box set of Stax singles from 1968. Yesterday was a bad day. AGNI turned down "The Last Field."This was a story that was accepted by both Harper's and The Atlantic. Neither ran it. What are the chances of a story being accepted by both venues? If you are a normal person, you might think that if you write the best story, it gets published, but that is the last way that publishing works. And still I managed to overcome that obstacle here. Harper's editor was fired, Atlantic editor phoned me to say he had to return the story to me, he's left his position, they might never be publishing fiction again, the person who would decide anyway does not like me. I think the chances of having the story accepted by both venues is way lower than having it accepted by both and then not ran by either. But that is publishing: this story that was deemed good enough for the two places that are the hardest to get fiction--worlds harder than The New Yorker--could now well be impossible. Until it's published for the wrong reasons--that is, an editor thinks an association with that writer confers prestige on them (you know: "This issue features a story by Pulitizer Prize winner Pluto the Pup...", etc.). Decisions will be case by case at that point. If it advances the cause, yea, if not, nay. All I care about is moving forward and doing what I am here to do.


Obviously, there are the people who cum on themselves when they get to turn me down (these are often people at lit mags that wouldn't help my cause at all, even if they ran whatever; I'm not some professor who wants to brag to the other professors in the department how they got a story in The Iowa Review; that's really all that gets you; that and $150; no one outside the system will ever see that story; that's not for me, with the work I have and what it can do; I have stuff to move, and it's always good to move it, but whether a place like that--and I'm banned there--publishes "Funny Lines TK" doesn't really matter save beyond it's one more thing out of the way, and you got a little bit of good news, such as it is; friends tell me not to send anything to any of those types of places, to hold it for after the explosion, when a lot more people will see it and I'll get paid a lot more for it; the thing with me is, the next story is going to be as strong as anything before, and I know my well is bottomless, so sometimes I try to get anything positive coming back, and I don't think "You must save this one, it's as strong as you could ever do!" because I can just make more; I am doing less of this, though, because there's really no point, and it's also often personal, and I also don't write in that Godawful style of what you see in these places). Or, more erection-inducing yet for them, ignore me. That's what we're dealing with. AGNI--and I like the editor, he's a good guy, but I think little of most of their fiction--said I excel at the plotting, but maybe that's better than the character development. The Atlantic editor had actually recommended AGNI as a landing spot for "Field" after the situation there. Then I go to AGNI and I start to read something that has no plot, no character development, that would put me to sleep if it didn't irk me so much that this situation exists. I show the story to other people, they can't make it far into it, no one can finish it. AGNI published a story of mine. It was no better, no worse, than anything else I'd ever sent them in twenty years. There was a part about masturbation in it, and one of the editors liked Knausgaard--who is so terrible at writing and would probably fellate his own navel if he could--and he had written for like thirty pages about masturbation, and I think that's the only reason they took it. There's no way it was better than "Cheer Pack," "The Last Field," and gun to my head, if anything those two stories were better. "Cheer Pack" might be the most likable thing I've ever written, and because of that, it's the most unpublishable. What happens is that people here can't even tell what is good is and what is bad, they have no bullshit detector, it becomes all bullshit, and they go in looking for hallmarks. It's not about how well you tell a story or move people or make them think, they want to see the pretentious bits. You know what I do sometimes when things aren't going well with an editor, or they want a drastic edit but the reasons for one just aren't there? That is, they want something boggier, less free-flowing. I just load up the big ass words, I do like this imitation of an uptight person closed off from the world, who would mention their Ivy League background at any given point, who seek to show you that they're smarter than you and everyone you know in what they write, not an attempt to bring you in, to connect with you at the level of who you are, which could well be something--and someone--you're not consciously aware of. And they love that. Then we're all set. I'm doing it as satire, from a standpoint of people evaluating my work later, but in the moment, it fixes the situation.


No one--meaning, the three places that actually respond--wanted the op-ed I wrote Sunday. This morning I've written one on "Silent Night" that was discussed at one venue, and may be a fool's errand, but it was a chance I had to take. The editors of Glimmer Train sent a holiday present of rum cookies as a thank you for the story they published earlier this year. I was taken aback by this. It was very nice. Really, really thoughtful. I'm not saying editors have to come bearing gifts, but it makes such a difference when you even get a fairly polite, fairly prompt reply, and you are not treated like excrement which is what usually happens. Worse than excrement. We've all experienced that. This is something else, the way editors usually treat writers. It's worse here yet for a host of reasons, and that's mounted over the years, to the point that let's just call this what is, and that's a war. As a friend said, "You are at war every day with these people now." Clearly this, though, was way beyond just being polite and professional. It was really nice.


I performed pretty poorly on the radio yesterday. I'd say it was the first time ever that what is going on this nightmare impacted my performance with anything. People probably won't be able to tell a difference. Recently an op-ed of mine ran, and it was butchered. Sounded little like me in parts. The original version was far superior. No one could tell. Van Gogh would go to museums and he'd see things that people wouldn't, and he could tell when something was a copy, or an earlier version, but most people just see the overall effect, basically, so the radio thing probably sounds like business as usual. But I was pretty poor, I know. Though the part about being a genius and struggle--in terms of your process, in terms of working something out, not the circumstances of your life--being liberating was as profound as any I've made on the air at any point. Also learned that all of thirty people in the world visited this site in October. With all of that published, in those big time venues. Thirty people. If you created a dummy site, meaning, you invented a writer, they didn't exist, they of course had no publications, and gave them a site, there would be more traffic than thirty people in a month. It's really not possible, it would seem, without the supernatural involved, to have numbers like that. Numbers like any of my numbers. I think I'm cursed and doomed. It's a conversation I have with friends and family. They have no answers for much of it, either. At the same time, I expect to get where I'm going, but that's because I'm me, and I even if God is a dick, I don't know why he would give someone this talent and strength just to keep knocking them down. I have faith--I try to--that there has to be a larger reason. What has happened to me in these 6.5 years that I don't even like to call hell anymore, because this is worse than hell, has made me better, stronger, smarter, more ready and capable to be an enormous agent--the most enormous agent--of change to the good in this world, as someone who can bring back reading, bring back what it means to be human again, leaping from medium to medium, with a life story that does not match my actual stories, but gives them a good run. I can do anything now if I get a chance, and that wasn't true seven years ago. For one thing, I could not create at this rate, and it was a lot harder to come up with things, though I was still coming up with more and better things then, than others were or could. But this is so different now. Any demand there could ever be, I could now meet and exceed. Now, you can't have three novels come out a year--that's bad for business--but you can have one novel and one memoir and one TV series one year, and one story collection and one speaking tour and one movie and one children's book the next year, and you can have one novel, one music book, and one Christmas mystery the next year, and you can have one nonfiction book that takes on the notion of truth in our age, and one thriller, and one newly invented mode of fiction novel, and one collection of essays the next year, and the year after that you can have one YA novel, a series based on one of the earlier books, a psychological novella, and a collection of your film writings, and the year after that you can have one Beatles book, one weekly sports column, one bi-weekly op-ed column, and another story collection, and the year after that you can have one television show and one radio show and one novel. Etc. If you were in my head, and you saw the ease with which everything arrives and assembles...it's like it's not a human way of thinking, like you've tapped into something else, something beyond. Anyway. Enough of this. I have to get a coffee and write some more. It's ten of nine.


***


Imagine if there was a revolution based on truth? If there was someone who simply told the truth. The actual truth. Not truth conscripted as agenda. The rule was the truth. If you said the truth, you could say anything, so long as it was true. What if, consequently, other people started telling the truth more? What if writers started trying to capture it? What if that became an evaluatory standard? What if the penalties were for not telling, sharing, capturing truth? What if everything came back to truth? Not feelings, not what you want, not what seems easiest, but truth? And what if feelings, and what you want, and what is best, all stem, in the most positive ways, from what you learn that you have to do, once you accept the truth? What if everything, in fact, of any quality, starts with truth? And what are we now, in a truthless world, where even people aware of truth are scared to say it? But what if someone to lead wasn't? What if they were smarter? What if they were stronger?


***


1600 word piece on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and The Courtship of Miles Standish written in twenty minutes for The Daily Beast. I'm writing at a high level today. This was very funny, also poignant. They might have to take out a couple bits--one or two things might be deemed to have too much edge. Maybe not, though. It's quite beautiful in parts. I'll be on my own on Thanksgiving. I'll need to work, anyway. Time to walk to Charlestown and climb the Monument. Day #44 in a row. Keep going. Do what you can to keep going.


***


Updated the radio tab on the site, which meant uploaded fifteen links. No other tabs have been updated since July, I believe. Will do this week. All in all, all that is here is the last four years' worth of work. When will I find the time to get the rest of it up? Walked three miles, climbed the Bunker Hill Monument three times. Now we compose some more.


***


Updated the Beatles, Art, Short fiction, and Op-ed tabs, at least with the the new stuff since the summer. It's 2 PM. Wrote and sent letter to friend. Coffee. Also: If you are a publishing person and find offense in this journal, I invite you to come at me. Lay on. Yes? How I would love that. Come at me as hard as you can muster. Just put your name on it. Step out into the street, and let's go. I have the truth on my side, and you have rather something else. Do I seem remotely scared or like a man who has anything to lose? I watch my emails get sent around the country and read compulsively twenty, thirty times by people. Starts in California, say, gets ponged around the office, gets sent off to someone at some other venue in NYC. People who aren't going to respond. I can say four words--four innocuous words--in one of these emails, and it's going to get sent around. How do I know this? I have means for knowing a lot of things that people don't. I didn't just roll out of bed sometime in adulthood with a dream. It used to be that I'd watch people steal my ideas. And some of these people were quite famous. I'll tell you about it later. You could actually document the theft, when they were doing it, when they had to do an edit and referred back to my extensive pitch email. But, that didn't bother me that much. I had bigger problems. Now the email sending is about "You must hate him like I do, hate hate hate! Block him there as we have here!" Right. If that's who you want to be in this life, God--or whatever--needs to help you a lot more than he needs to help me. And I'm pretty desperate for help at this point. And was a lot of points ago, in sooth and understatement.


***


Cut down an op-ed that was a no-go at two places, sent it to someone else (they have different length specs), and hopefully they will run it next week. Started a piece on DNA for The Daily Beast. Plumber comes tomorrow AM. Read "On the Down Line" by George Manville Farm (1831-1909), a scattershot short story that is not very successful. Listened to this Green Day BBC session, which is awesome. My favorite recording by them. Listen at 8:38. Just one of the all time great rock and roll moments.



And listened to this Clash show, which is truly great.




I'm going to do better tomorrow. I feel so much power in me as an artist. It feels supernal, bigger than a world, but contained and commanded within the world that is me. In a way, it is beyond me, I have no control over it, and yet it is me, it is what I have control over right now, and, decency and sanity and faith-willing, it is what will give me control of other things later. You sound like you're a wizard hunting Smurfs when you say something like this, but my powers are growing greater. I can feel it more than I can feel heat, cold, rain on the bridge over to Charlestown. Something has to give.