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Good people

Thursday 9/3/20

* Someone I know--the person who If You [ ]: Fantasy, Fabula, Fuckery, Hope will be dedicated to--and who has always been in my corner, who believes in me, and I think believes in my outcome, made an incredibly kind offer to publish my stories on their website and pay me what they could. I don't know if I should do this, because I don't want to take advantage of someone or be a charity case. Having said that, how are the stories? I believe there are none better. I wouldn't be offering piffle. This is more like a personal site than the sort of high-circ. venue where the work should be, but they're trying to get me some money to be able to keep going. What I think I could do, when the time came, if a story had an outcome that it should have, is I could ask this person if they'd take that story down, and I'd give them back the money for it, or supply another story in its place for no money, a trade. But I worry about being a burden, and the shame of that. This individual is in my inner circle, they see the emails, they know exactly what is happening with this historically unique situation--the hell--I am in, on my own, which I alone am in. This could be a way to work over--what needs working over, that is--the stories of what will be Longer on the Inside: Very Short Fictions of Infinitely Human Lives. I think I have another technical advancement with this book. A new kind of fiction. As with Meatheads, as with Franklin. Because these are not shorts. I don't write short shorts. I don't do that Lydia Davis nonsense. I also don't write vignettes or sketches. So what I'm doing here is creating fully-formed stories, with arcs and character development--growth, regression, a combo--in anywhere from a few hundred words to, say, 1300. One would have to labor to get across how difficult this is. There is as much happening in these very short fictions as there is in a novel of mine, or a longer short story, and of course I've been writing those simultaneously ("Rehearsal Visit," "Six Feet Away," "Green Glass Door," "Crossing Deer," "The Roll of Words"). The reader has to instantly know the characters, feel who who they, as if they've known them for a long time. Yo have to create that instant knowledge and depth and connection and familiarity. This is entirely about the details, the language they use, what they notice, a belief they've held and how it differs maybe from an earlier one. It is such an exacting way of writing. And I don't think people can do it. They can do the vignette, that faux-depth thing where you say nothing hardly and it's supposed to be open and deep but it's really just half-baked.

* I received a text yesterday asking if this was the texter's old friend Fleming. I replied yes, this is Fleming. Turns out it was Schiller, my old buddy who featured in The Smart Set essay on moving. It was good to hear from Schiller, a man I admire. He's doing well and he has two little girls and I just admire him a lot because Schiller grows. He truly tries to grow. He always did. Even back when we were in high school. I think we're going to do a better job of staying in touch. It's hard for me to catch up anyone on what has happened and is happening. It sounds so unbelievable if you don't read the work, follow this journal, etc. I know I'm not inventing anything, I'm not being hyperbolic. I know I am telling the complete truth. And I'm not paranoid or anything like that. I know what the situation is. I find myself having so much doubt lately, in just about everything else, but not with this. I know how these people feel about me, how they regard me, how much of a threat I am to them, to their sense of security, I know what they are as humans, I know who they are as people better than I know my own mother. Or at least not less. I know these people. I know what they pretend is good, I know how bad it is, how meaningless it is. I know what they look for. I know them. And I know my situation is historically unique. And I know it comes from my attributes. What I can do. What I am. I know I am historically unique. But how do you just bring it up with someone? You can't really. You hope either 1. Over time it becomes clear to them or 2. The situation resolves itself in the best way possible, and it becomes clear to them after the fact. But I have a great deal of respect for Schiller. For the most part, it seems that the people I like best I refer to by their last names. Not always. You have to have the right kind of last name. And they do the same. Wickett, Vollmer, Norberg, Kimball, Pratt. I've pretty much always called Kimball Kimball on the air. I was listening to some other segments with other people, and they all call him Rich. I wasn't trying to be weird or anything. The first time I got a text from Vollmer it was like "Hey, it's Vollmer." I don't know. I just like people like that. I don't like the Barrington von Trufflinton-Roblert-Richochet IV publishing types, with all of their greasy, gross inbreeding and their middle initials and their hyphenated names and their first name that is an initial and their five-part names. T.C Boyle. Stop. And you're horrible at writing.

* I want to mention someone else I respect a great deal. That would be a fellow I initially knew as Joe the Mason, who showed up in my Twitter one day, being a fan of Downtown. I thought he was a mason, but he's actually Joe Mason. I am glad that such a man is out there. A true individual, a good person, a smart guy, and really a fascinating character to me. He's ten years older than I am, lives in Maine, big hockey fan--knows the game--and a Bruins fan. He writes well, he reads, he knows super cool music--like if I post a Teardrop Explodes bootleg on Twitter, he's all over that, knows them--and he's been supportive of me. He's made a difference in my life, just with a comment here or there. I was super happy for him when I saw the other day that he'd been named the Maine custodian of the year. He's a custodian who teaches, is very smart, highly articulate, knows hockey and art. How interesting is that? And he's also this master gardener apparently. He leaves out some of the vegetables he grows in front of his house for the neighbors to take. One of the coolest people I've ever heard of. He's also a multi-time champion disc golfer.

* So three people I admire a lot, that I'm grateful for. Grateful even to just know that they exist, that there are still people like that.

* Someone today described me as a wall that people feel like they can keep punching and they can make a huge hole in me and I'll be okay because I'm me and I'll even help them out after because I am the most giving person any of them knows according to this person, and that means I get used. I set myself up for it, or I have in the past. This person stated that that's because I value friendship. It's not really that. Though I do value friendship more than just about anything, which is ironic, considering I have no friends. And you might be like, wait, whoa, it seems like you value art more than anything. Art is friendship. Someone gives something to someone else--which is not easy to give--which helps that someone else. Of course it's friendship. Yes, I want to make a billion dollars because that's what I think my work deserves, I think it can have that kind of entertainment reach, but more than anything I want to connect with lots of people and help them. Not like their charity cases. They're not. But you can still help someone see, help someone deal with feelings, help them have new feelings, help them pass a couple hours after a hard day, help them have something to look forward to on a beach or as a mid-hike break or to read next to the husband in bed as he goes to sleep and the wife stays up a bit longer. But the reason I have a hard time not being played like that, is because of my capacity for empathy. I have a hard time knowing someone is hurting and knowing I can stop it and help them, and not doing so. That's what happened with the child I mentored. One time she told me that she had this older friend once, and adult, and this adult contacted the child's mom, and told the mom to have the child leave her alone. And when this child said that to me, this person I cared about, I felt her pain, and her rejection, and I said, "I am your friend. I will always help you, and I would not do that to you. You're welcome in my life, and I'm glad to have you." And that family used me very cruelly. And over a good stretch of time, until there was one last thing, and I just said, no, never again. The hole/wall analogy is quite spot on, though. It's always been that way, more so as I became stronger--or so it seemed--and produced as I did, at the level I did. No one put it together, or thought, that maybe I was producing at that rate because I'd die otherwise, it was all I had to try to cling to, to keep paddling in this storm-tossed sea. Storm-tossed sea of fire, it feels like. I would say that the primary theme of my life, in publishing, in how I am reaching the world--or not, as it were--and romance and relationships and friends and family, is that my virtues and attributes and skills are the problem. Do you know what that is like? When I say I am in hell, that's what I mean--I mean that if you were going to design the worst suffering for me, do the Dantean contrapasso bit, this is what you'd design. And I'm also not sure that I am not dead and actually in hell. I think that is a real possibility.


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