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Handbook

Sunday 6/6/21

Heading out momentarily to get some exercise. It's quarter of six in the AM. Today marks 1806 days without a drink, or 258 weeks. I think there's a really good chance I botched the counting at some point. I'm almost certain my streak began in May. Which means I should be at five years by now, which is 260 weeks. But miscounting in this direction is okay. If I'm ever uncertain how many times I've run the stairs, for instance, I don't give myself the benefit of the higher number. I say, "Wait, is that nine times now? Shit. Call it eight. Ugh. You suck." The Zulu warrior always aims higher but rounds down because the Zulu warrior can always take on more. It's in the handbook.


Wrote the British Film Institute people again at Bloomsbury. This woman has something against me. She was rude to me when she did reply, like two years ago or more. I was supposed to be doing this book on A Hard Day's Night in the BFI Classics series. A no-brainer, right? Fleming writing the book on A Hard Day's Night. Mr. Beatles Guy who is also Mr. Film Guy. The series had shifted from an English publisher to Bloomsbury in NYC. Right away this woman in the new post was short with me. Dismissive. And since then, I've sent other ideas (A Man Escaped, Out of the Past, Chimes at Midnight, The Empire Strikes Back--the last of which they commissioned to someone else), and sometimes revisited this one, because it's so bloody obvious that this book should be in the series, there has never been a good book on A Hard Day's Night, and no one could ever be more qualified to write it. The opportunity is right there.


You think (try to think--you almost always know better, though), well, maybe I caught someone on a bad day, or they were just settling into the job and not dealing with anything new, or whatever. And now I've worked with Bloomsbury, and they were really happy and excited about the Sam Cooke book. So what are we doing? Why the hate from this woman? What is the motivation there? Why is this personal? I could pop out a masterpiece of a book on this subject in ten days. I am so polite in these letters. So polite and professional. Someone trying very hard to be a hater themselves might say, "Well, you did write a bunch of times." To which I'd say a couple things. Nothing in my career has ever happened, in twenty-five years, because I wrote something to someone and they just wrote back and we were good to go. I've published 2500 pieces. And the start at every last venue always involved something complex and maddening and usually backwards that took a long time, a lot of effort and energy to overcome.


Secondly, close to the last thing I want to do in my life, in this life of pure hell, is write an editor. I don't want to be writing you. Ever, for the most part. Pretty much just the once, ideally, and on a strictly need-to basis (for edits, or "can we do this interview to supplement the story about how you wrote it?" etc.) I want to say here's the thing--the story, the idea, the book--and then we do business, and exchange what letters we exchange when we have to. I don't want to follow-up trying to coax some response out of you. I don't want to send links of other work trying to impress you over the course of six years, or twenty, of you ignoring me so that you might actually consider the masterpiece from me while you're busy hooking up your friends from your MFA program sight unseen. I don't want to be sending 200 letters a week to editors. I don't want to send any letters most weeks to editors.


When this turns, I will seem like a recluse of coastal parts who only gets in touch with more work, and letters relevant to us both making more money. If I have to talk about something--edits, marketing, the book cover, whatever--a lot, I can do that, on the phone, over email, over text. And I'm nice and I'm funny and cagey and I am so, so, so appreciative--and I'll let you know it--of a job well done, dedication, and the effort someone else puts forth. But I'd rather have the nails pulled off my toes than just sit there writing editors trying not to be treated like garbage or, worse, someone they fear, envy, hate.


But what choice do I have? And then you're dealing usually with very petty, arrogant, incompetent, entitled people for the most part, who can hate you, decide that you're a pest, you've over-submitted, over-emailed, whatever lie they want to tell themselves to maintain some twisted narrative in their own brains, when they are the ones who set up the whole ass backwards "I'll make you beg" power dynamic, mostly so that, paradoxically, they could hate you more as you did just that when they know, and you know, and they know you know, that you're so blatantly in the right. Then, when you don't go away, they cannot deal, and also encourage others to hate you. Those people, having no souls or spines, say, "Sure, that's how our sick system works, love it, and I'd love to."


You need a combination of two things to prevail. 1. Exceptions among these people and 2. To reach the point where you force hands and they have no choice.


I'm not saying the Bloomsbury woman is this way. But a book in this series on this film is such a blatantly obvious book to do, and this is even more of a blatantly obvious writer to be writing it. And it will sell. It'll actually sell. People know my Beatles work. They want a Beatles book from me. Like I said, there is a gaping hole when it comes to the subject of this film. And when do you get someone, too, with this background in music, the Beatles, and film? And he's worked for your press? He's done a music book of this same length, and a film book of this same length? You don't pay any advance. So he'd be doing the book for free. So what's going on here? A Hard Day's Night isn't a worthy entry in the series? Look at the books in the series. Of course it's worthy. So what is it then? What remains?


Then it's worse when you have 400 available stories, masterpiece upon masterpiece, and you know that someone is dismissing you out of hand because of your name, or you are not one of their friends, or you're not the right kind of person. Like at Granta. It's a caste system, a gated club. You need to be the right kind of person with the right kind of representation and the right kind of nonsense. If I know you're doing me this way, it's like what the hell does it even matter, here's another freaking masterpiece. Nothing is being given a chance anyway. So I'm supposed to stand on some ceremony for you? Why? Do your job. Actually do it. Stop with this wank. Read the brilliant story from the genius who has done all of the things. Treat him like a human being. Let merit come into this. Put in the masterpiece, and see what happens, because it could be pretty damn amazing. For instance, if you publish "Fitty" or "Eyejaculator" in The New Yorker, they'd explode, go viral, cause a huge ass wave. And who knows what things would look like after that wave came through. And what business would be like.


Tempted to go back into "Seedless Cherries" now, but making myself not do that for a day or two. It's as powerful and soul-rocking an experience as art can give. I am honestly questioning if it is too devastating. To devastate is one thing, but to devastate with truth is another, and to devastate at the same time with a beauty not to be found anywhere else, which one nonetheless recognizes as something that animates their own soul when they most feel that soul to surge to life, is when you can do anything with a work of art. You make people feel something they've never felt at any point in time in a work like that, and then what they feel in that moment radiates out into all of the key moments in their life, their memories, hopes, dreams, desires, doubts, notions of self, and lights them up, in turn, in new ways.


Even the excerpt I posted earlier changed some, but I leave these things intact for future reference for people.


You always want to be writing something you couldn't have written a year ago. Six months ago. Three months ago. But with each thing you write being the best you'll be able to do. So that you have all of these works from points in time that could not have come from the same time because you were changing so much, but what never changed, in the course of your time of creation, was the point you always got to in terms of the purpose, the quality, the meaning, the truth, the utter necessity, of what it was you gave life to.


Writing is a partnership between ideas, truths, and characters, and an author. It's a teamwork enterprise. It's beyond this earth, too. You can feel it. It feels like nothing else. Nothing else within the range of human experience. And from that beyond, you can illuminate every last mystery of that human experience and condition. You can do it so easily once you get to that place. It doesn't even feel like being human any more, but it also feels like being more human than is otherwise possible.


Started writing the Beatles essay on the first take of "A Day in the Life" in my head. A new essay of mine has been made available in The New Haven Review. I'll have to double check what it's on. I think probably it's that piece "A Carrot for Dennis," which is in Glue God: Essays (and Tips) For Repairing a Broken Self, and was recently excepted on here. I'll put it up in the News section later. I have a number of things to update there. The site remains in disarray because there is just so much information and pieces/work to have up on it. Plus, things routinely go wrong with the host site. The webmaster needs to come in and fix more issues. I'm supposed to get a list to her, but then I just write, I do nothing else, I try so hard to make money, and that's all I do. It sinks me for everything else. Including exercise of late. But I must get some in now. Listened to Radiohead's OK Computer and Here's Larry Williams. The latter would be perfect for a Pitchfork Sunday Album Review essay, but, of course, they've ignored every pitch I've sent on that subject for three years while making sure to hook up random trust funders in Brooklyn who have published next to nothing in their lives. Because of course. But yeah, get pissed at me because that's true and I have the eyeballs to know it. Like, what? My bad?


The Beatles covered three Larry Williams songs. They liked Larry Williams a lot. He was in jail, because Larry Williams was also a pimp. Hmmmm. So imagine you're in jail for your pimping, and someone's like, "These English kids who are getting massive keep doing your songs, man." More Larry Williams weirdness: he cut a 1965 live album with Johnny "Guitar" Watson which features a cover of the Yardbirds' "For Your Love." It's about the last thing you'd expect. It's a very faithful cover, too.