Put together a proposal for a book on Thoreau Friday morning. I have two different ideas for Thoreau books. I will write one of them. There's going to be a Thoreau volume in my output, the same as there will be an Orson Welles volume. This proposal from today could determine what that book is going to be, or it might not. This is for a series. I also came up with a half dozen or so other ideas that could also work for this series, to try if need be.
I ended up working pretty deep into Thursday night on the story from Monday, or whenever it was, now called "Master of Romance,' and then again what was technically yesterday (it's very late/early now.) I think what I should do for the next few days is focus on nonfiction, various nonfiction books, and get ready for work on The Year of Doing Nothing and Everything, and then settle in with and work on longer stories, such as "Up the Sea," "Caves and Waterfalls," and "The Hornet." Thursday I worked on no less than seven short stories. That's a lot. What happens with what I do, being the artist I am, is that doing one thing gets me ready to do another. My work prepares me for other work, sends me rocketing into it. Then I rocket elsewhere, or I return, fully charged. The work on Longer on the Inside should be happening, though. That's curatorial and akin to being a head coach at this point. Go through the game film, make adjustments, come up with the game plan, scheme, etc., more than taking the hand-of and running the ball. I'm "upstairs," if you will, with that book now.
Need to get the Everything Wrong with Publishing entries up on here. I haven't forgotten. I never forget. If you are one of the people who hate read these pages, or check in to see if you're up on here yet, be advised that your time is coming. It's fun to look forward to things, right?
Has a Red Sox team ever been worse at this point of the season versus the AL East? I honestly don't know. I wouldn't be surprised if they have, but nor would I be surprised if they haven't. Would be tough to be much worse than this one is. This team is bad against division foes, and bad against good teams. There really aren't that many good teams. In the AL, it's pretty much just the Yankees and Houston. The rest of the good teams aren't that good, but still the Sox can't beat them. If they want to go anywhere--and it's hard to envision them doing that--they need to put Whitlock in the bullpen when he returns. If they don't, it's over. With Sale back, they have enough starting pitching, in theory. Yes, I know you can never have enough starting pitching, but you need this guy in the bullpen, and then you have three decent arms out there. Again, in theory. Why are Alex Cora teams so sloppy and bad at fundamentals? The Sox pissed it away fast Thursday. They were in total control of that game, and then in like ten minutes, they had no control over the game and were almost assured of the loss. Three positional players in the Red Sox' starting line-up have a negative WAR and the Sox have more blown saves than saves. I did see the Sox beat the Yankees tonight, though, despite another blown save.
Here is a rarity: it's a rehearsal of the Suspense episode "Drive-In," featuring Judy Garland. "Drive-In" aired twice on Suspense, with Garland starring in the second, and superior, version. But this is quite the find. Garland wanted to be taken seriously as a dramatic actress. She didn't want to be "just" a singer and a gay young thing. What you'll hear in this rehearsal is her saying her lines differently, trying out approaches and inflections. She's working at this, clearly. The finished product was one of the best episodes of Suspense. There are only three of them that I'd say reach the level of art, those being "Ghost Hunt," "The House in Cypress Canyon," and "The Hitch-Hiker." And while the Garland episode isn't quite that good, it's a strong one, and now we have more insight into how it came to be.
Things might be changing with the Dracula plan. I want to do another horror film book. For a while I was thinking that would be on the Browning/Lugosi film, but over the course of yesterday I mulled something rather ambitious. What does that mean? Well, with most people, "ambitious" would be code for "hard to do." That's not relevant here. It just means something interesting and bold--which fortunes favors, right? I'd want to have some pages to show with this, as well as an outline. This would take a touch of vision on the publisher's part. Just a touch.
You know what a publisher with real vision would do? Not this publisher. Wouldn't be relevant here. But a different one. They'd say, "Hey, you're the mega-genius, there is no one like you. You're in a bad spot right now, but you have the best work of every kind there is. We can't pay you a lot, but how about we do six books at once? You'll still have plenty left over. Totally different books. Because you have them. And no one else is like that. Let's make a statement. Let's throw down that gauntlet. Let's blow everyone away. Give me a novel, essay collection, book of short fiction, arts book, different kind of short story collection, and music book. Here are your pennies on the dollar, sorry about that, but you want books out, and it is what it is right now, so let's rock and roll and make some history." Publishing people want to say, "Hmmmm! That's just not done! Publishing doesn't work that way!" Publishing likes to celebrate sucking and sloth. Do you know why it's not done? Because no one else can fucking do it. It's only relevant to this one author. This one artist. So do it then. Celebrate that. Blow minds with that. Dare them to try and tear that unique artist down, the one person who can do all that, and do each of those better than anyone does anything. Isn't that what we're here for, if that opportunity falls right in our lap? To go for it? To make some history? To be history? You have the instrument. You have the guy. The one person. He's all but hand delivered to you. He is offering you history on a plate. So simple just to take it and run with it. That was "Fitty," too. But you're going to bigots who hate you so much that they'd rather children get shot up than put forward something by Fleming that might do something about that.
I had reason to look up "Orson Welles horror" today on the Google, and what do you know, the first thing listed was this blog. I'm seeing more and more of that kind of thing, for a host of subjects. "Scott Stossel Tom Brady" takes you here, too.
Anyway, I've now started this other horror film book. It advances ideas about Orson Welles that have never been put forward before. Shakes up everything people would think they know about Orson Welles. The book would be about a twenty-two minute film made by one of the only two openly gay public figures in Ireland at mid-century, a man named Hilton Edwards, who never directed another film. And also Welles's role in that direction, and his place in horror. I worked out a lot of it yesterday. And the idea of the perfect in art, because Orson Welles was part of only one perfect work of art. It's not Citizen Kane. It's this twenty-two minute film. Now, in this series, there's not been a book about a short film. They are all feature length. But I've worked this out, and length--as in time in minutes--in cinema, doesn't necessarily mean much in and of itself, the same as words in prose when those words are the words of a master. I received a number of texts yesterday from someone to whom I'd read a few parts of "The Number One Cause of Death," which totaled several hundred words, these texts telling me that those words were all they'd thought about for the past two days, could not stop thinking about them. So how many are there? You can't measure that way. You can note the word count, but that's something else entirely, really.
I'm working on "Master of Romance" more now. It's over 3000 words. It's sexually pungent. I guess you could call it an extreme work of erotica, but that's also misleading. It's intensely sexual. But it's also not at all, because it's about something else. Call it the theme of mired. Of being mired. We mire ourselves, and there are all kinds of ways to be mired. They cost us the living of a life. Life is motility. You see it right down at the level of spermatozoa. That simplest form of us, carrying part of the human essence, is defined by motility.
The story is about a man named Nick Crayton, who wants to think of himself as this leader in intimacy, in pleasure, in romance. He's always led, gone first. You know that kid. Is the first person you know to touch a vagina, to hook up, to fuck people in high school, to do what he does at college. He's in therapy, and his therapist, this woman, shared an office with an older man, who Crayton was initially referred to, but he wants to talk to this woman instead. She's only a few years older than he is. In the sessions, he's thinking the most vulgar thoughts. They become this parallel narrative unto themselves. This waking, fantasy world.
He's imagining calling her auntie, and being alone at her house, going through her bureau, how much pubic hair she has. He's hurt people. We find out more about him as we go along. His relationship with his dad. With his sisters. Something he did as revenge against his dad when he was about twelve. We learn about his own daughter. His dad's favorite basketball player was Pistol Pete Maravich, this amazing scorer--an amazing natural scorer--who his dad talked about as though he lived this perfect life, in a way, because he did what he was best at, and he did it in full. That time in his life was not cut into. But when that time was over, he died, because he didn't have a complete heart. It was missing like a valve. An opening. And God called him home, Crayton's father would tell him. He'd done what he was there to do. Sex can be that way, and in the story, it's this symbolic stand-in, all the more so because there's no actual sex. Everything is thought. Fancied. Imagined. Fantasized. You could say it's the most intensely sexual story, but everyone in it has their clothes on at all times, and doesn't appear to be doing anything that isn't your typical out-in-public stuff. The only instance we have of an actual act is itself reported, after a fashion, in the relaying of what this man's revenge was upon his father when he was a boy. But so far as we know, that's the only thing/sex that "happened." And it is sex of a kind, but a very complicated kind. Someone in publishing would look at this and they just wouldn't get it. Or they'd think it was for shock. There is no greater truism than the statement that publishing people hate and fear life and recoil from it. That's why they've come to publishing. That's why they only deal in the lifeless. Whereas I would tell you that how good something is directly proportional to how much life it contains. This goes for music, painting, film, and it goes for writing--which is more musical than music, more painterly than painting, more cinematic than film, when it is done at its best--than anything else. These people in publishing can't handle life. The demonize any evidence of it. They try to find other terms--pejoratives--to call it. Whether that's vulgarity, immaturity, underdeveloped, what have you. They are stunted. They are the last people in this world--another truism--who should be having anything to do with literature. Which is one reason they've made actual literature extinct, and why they're going to try and lie to you and themselves that Lydia Davis, Lorrie Moore, Diane Williams--these peddlers of absolutely nothing, by which I mean, they go around with this bag filled with nothings--are substantial writers. They aren't. There are none right now. What do I mean by none? I mean there are no others. Someday, others might come along. But they are going to have to work their asses off to develop the talent they were born with. They're going to have to stick to their vision, to be unimpeded. Right now, this industry makes that impossible. You go along to get along, and that means you must be like them. You must be mediocre. You must be achievable. You must no be great. You must not be inventive. You need to be a bad person. You need to come from certain things, have certain things, and none of have anything to do with talent or your development as an artist or writer. I'm doing things for myself, by which I really mean, my work. But as I do them, as this changes, that's going to open up a chance for there to be other people who write works of value. What happens right now is anyone with ability is flushed out fast. You're not going to dedicate your life to working at your development, every waking moment, for years, for decades, when a system is set up to tell you you're doing it wrong because you're getting better. No one has that kind of drive and strength, if they somehow had the ability. But I do. This isn't just about my work, and reaching the world, and that work changing this world. It's about what other people will also be able to do later.
For people in publishing, there must be no kick in the pill; it's all one big sugar pill, a placebo, a trick and a lie. They require that opiate, the same as they must avoid mirrors at all costs. They need to be dead in order to live, if that's what they're doing. We'll call it that for lack of a better term, and because it's almost one in the morning. The last thing they want or can handle is life in words, in stories. Or, someone--hey; what's up?--who embodies that life and art in the extreme. Who is life and art. Walking life, and walking art. I would bet you that there isn't anyone, not some daft "celebrity author," who is better known throughout publishing than I am. All of these people know me. And many thousands of them are working in concert against me. But very few of them dare speak my name. Why do you think that is? Why do you think all of this is happening? Your work would have to be pure life and pure art--which itself is pure life--for that to be the case. And you would, too. That's why this situation is what it is right now. And it's also why a friend of mine would say that everything is set up, the stage is set, for what is going to follow and happen, as a result of someone being those things.
There's all this stuff in the story about a barn as part of one of these fantasies. We see why some of the things are coming up. His daughter is an excellent equestrian, and she texts him videos of her jumps. She does more and more jumps, and they seem to be getting more and more difficult. It's not a story of sex addiction. Not at all, really. That's almost incidental, the sex, though it's a thematic backbone. That miring. The displacement. The ironic and tragic lack of motility, in a story where sperm is so central. Sperm features in the revenge against this guy's father. The part at the end where there are multiple barns, after a fashion, in multiple temporal places, involving multiple families, is some virtuoso prose.
If you're in publishing, and you are sitting back steaming with hate, because I've just said some things that are true, to you I would say: it doesn't have to be like that. You don't have to be like that. You can be something else, and something better, by the time Monday morning rolls around. I've been things in my life that were bad things. I've been a person I didn't want to be. A person who was not, in some ways, a good person to be. You know what I did? I changed that. I faced myself. I faced myself in hard ways. I walked, for instance, 3000 miles a year, for years. Alone with my thoughts. No music, no distractions. Just my thoughts. But really, the biggest thing was just doing it. Doing the change. We think we can't change. We think because we've been something for so long, that we have to stick with it, or else we're invalidating our whole lives. But you know what? Let it go. Abandon the draft, to put it in writing terms. Double click on the new document. Life really only starts when you do the right thing. I know a nice guy who always does the wrong thing. He does this out of cowardice. He's not mean. He's weak. He tries to please everyone, and is not real with anyone. At least not publicly. And not with me privately, which I suspect is how he is in a lot of his private life. I never think of him as having actually lived. I don't think it's too late for him to start. Then that's all that matters. You don't look back and lament your lost time, years, decades. You're living now. And you'll live going forward. That's all that will matter to you, because it's all that matters in reality. You don't need to hate me, or double down, or scream or rant that publishing is the best, because you take what I've said personally as this slam against your birthright, and because you have nothing else but this system of falsities and lies-to-self that you've erected and buttressed, and I've said something true. You don't need to hate yourself either, is what I'd say to you. And what you've been doing, is a potent form of that. That's really why you hate me. It's not because of anything I've done to you, or that I've said something cruel in order to hurt you. I've said some things that are true, but the hate was there long before that. The hate existed because of what I am and what I've made. What I can do. What I do do--always. What I've been doing tonight. You can just let go of the things you cling to. You can be things that you don't think you can be, and you can be them so quickly. A better world will open up to you. You just have to decide. You can be a solution. You can be your own solution for what is in you that needs solving. Don't look to the people to your left and right in your industry. Don't take your cue from them. Take your cue from you. It doesn't have to be the way you're going about things. There are answers for you. They are waiting for you. All you have to do is decide, and you are a long way down the road of becoming. It's easier than you think. It's easier than you fear.