The other day I saw an awful story that an awful writer had shared on Facebook. A meaningless place that does not pay, that publishes only awful work, put the story on their site.
From the first sentence, you couldn't understand it. The writer was trying to be "deep" and "creative," by using nouns as adjectives, but they botched the job, wrecked the syntax, and it ran together as drunken word slop.
Then the story became what someone I know terms Bunker Hill Creative Writing 101. That is, if you showed up at Bunker Hill, told your students on the first day to go home and write a 1000 word story, they'd all come back with some version of this. High school writing. Middle school writing. Half baked. Not real writing. Awful in that truly amateur way of the amateur trying to be slick. An "official" writer. Which is actually better than awful in the pretentious way you get from the MFA and Ivy League people. Though this person also had an MFA. You could at least read it, terrible though it was. Think of it like reading your average sixth grader's homework assignment. You can read what your kid wrote. But it's just basic kid stuff.
But now I will get into what happened, and how words really function in the world today. Cue the love fest on Facebook in the comments, with people saying nonsense they do not mean, outright lying.
A number of these people--who sounded like confused members of the elderly set; you know, grandma who wants to chime in with her love, but just don't know what is going on--asked what a "flash" was, because that's how the talentless writer had billed her piece. A work of flash. It was a fragment, people said, and the writer replied that it was supposed to be. That's what a flash was. A part. Not a whole thing. It was meant to be incomplete. And, well, lacking.
Many people said they wanted more, which they viewed as this huge compliment--though they're completely full of shit--and the author took as one, because she's also full of shit when it comes to what she needs to tell herself. It's all about management of the lie. The delusion. That's what a lot of life now comes down to.
But do you know what words are at this point? Words have no value in terms of communication. They don't hold meaning. I wrote some time back in this journal about how there are no longer real compliments, because people have lost the ability to say something honest about something. To respond to what that thing is--the specifics of that thing. And to stand before someone and truly say, "I admire this, and here's why." That is more vulnerability than people can allow now. That risks too much for them. It takes too much courage. They're not even strong to do that.
People say what they say to get along. To get fake compliments coming back their way, too. For attention. For a pick-me-up, which is not a real pick-me-up.
Same as when you see some depressed twenty-something with a drinking problem take her shirt off, strike some arty pose, do a black and white photograph, then put it up on Instagram with some cryptic caption. She wants attention. She's broken. Her life is empty. This is the form of pick-me-up she opts for. Then sixty thirsty guys say stupid comments, and a couple fake friends who were never real friends post cliches and emojis, because they are also broken and fully alone. And that is the life of this person. That right there is what has to be stretched into a good day, into a good life, into a full existence. We're talking someone as broken as can be. And this is all they'll ever do, ever be, and what they get in life, they'll never earn--it will have to be handed to them. Life then becomes, again, a challenge to manage the lie. The delusions. This is a lot of people.
Words don't express meaning. They don't express views. Ideas. They have no specific value. As words, they are meaningless. They don't mean what the words themselves mean.
Nor do people listen to words and identify the meaning. Or read words and identify the meaning or even care about it. All words are now gestural, and treated gesturally. There is no real communication. At all.
Words are now gestures. They are hugs. What they only and ever say, at this point in the world, is "I like you, I'm sending you something positive. I'm being supportive. Will you be supportive of me and word-hug me back?"
It doesn't have to be real like. It rarely is. It's about the gesture. The quid pro quo of the word hug. And also avoiding reality. But words have no concrete value as the words they are.
I am the lone exception. And one sees where that leaves me at the moment.
Look at my situation. There is no one who looks at me and thinks I need a hug. The mega-genius who is stronger than everyone? Who just keeps going? Who knows all that he knows, and creates constantly?
People also pick up on the feeling that they can't kiss my ass. I am not someone you can just word-hug. They think I will think they're a loser if they try that. They're embarrassed and ashamed before it even happens. People respect me too much. Even the people who hate me and want me dead respect me more than they respect anyone else. Anyone they know. Anyone who works for them. Anyone they shill for. Anyone they say is great. Anyone they award. Anyone they cover. Anyone they hype.
Which makes them hate me more. People question their language skills with me. They want to sound smart. They want me to think well of them. Even if I'm not going to see what they write. They still transpose me into this mental mix. They're intimidated. So, they say nothing. And no one says anything about my work. Anything I do. Anything I create. Anything I achieve.
At the same time, people know that I'm not going to perfunctorily word-hug you back. I'll give you credit out in the open for quality. For decency. For true effort. For greatness. For candor. For being real. But I won't go through any motions with you. I will not say something that is not true. This is real. I am real. Everything else? It's not real. Words aren't real. Again, save in this one place, this one body of work, with this one person.
I am blackballed by an entire industry. But that is not nearly the problem of what I'm detailing here. This is why there's nothing. No platform, no followers, no support, no words at all. Because really, there are no words anymore. There are word hugs.
All of these reviews you see for these shitty literary fiction books? They're not real reviews. They're another form of word hugs. The books are word hugs. They don't say anything. They don't mean anything. They are gestures in narcissism. In propagating the lie-to-self that there is any ability here. They are word hugs to the incestuous, talentless, dead-inside community of broken freaks in publishing. And none of it says a single damn thing that is true, that is real, that has any specific meaning whatsoever.
This is one of the biggest pieces of the pie for me, and why I am in this situation.
Let's get into something else.
This woman looked at a form of writing and accepted its limitations. Took the attitude of "Well, it can only do so much." Didn't question this. Opted to do it all the same. Besides knowing that this woman has no ability, I also know she is a loser. I know she can barely think. I know she thinks in terms of limitations. She thinks in terms of "can't" rather than "can" and "why the fuck not?"
Now, her ability also dictates these terms. But why would you ever create something that comes with built-in deficiencies and limitations that are just "how it is" and which you apologize for? Or, I should say, make willing allowance for. Don't you want to be better than that?
Here's what I did, with what has become Longer on the Inside: Very Short Fictions of Infinitely Human Lives: I invented a new form of literature. Now, these works are the word-count length of the "flash," but they are not works of flash fiction at all. I saw that I could create entire worlds--limitless human worlds--within the word count space of 800, 1000, whatever it was. That I could create novelistic works, that were not fragments of anything--that were the ultimate in totalities.
If you’ve written a work and it prompts people to want more from that given work—which they think is a compliment—you have failed if you are a maker of actual art. Art ends when it ends, and it registers as totality. That from which no more could be wrested.
I had mentioned the other day that I wrote a story called "The Man Who Takes My Train." Someone began the story, and sent me this screenshot:
They added: "That right there gives you more than any of these works these people are praising. The others in full. That captures you, it fulfills you, and could leave you with thoughts for days. It will stick with you. There is more story already, right there, in that, than there is anything else anyone is writing."
Then they went on and read the actual story, which has so much happen in it, but without ever being busy, because that happening is the stuff of deepest humanness, and truths, in which every word tells so much--with specificity, even within the range of each word, because all of them are functioning on multiple levels. That's how you have to do it--multiple planes must be interwoven. Seamlessly. Without the reader being conscious of the weaving.
You have to take the reader with you--not have them drag the work forward themselves. Which is what almost all writing now demands of the reader, the would-be reader, which is partially why there are hardly any readers. You're forced to lug this shit with you. The people in publishing will do it, go through the motions of doing it, just so they can say, in their empty lives, that they belong to a community. "I'm a literary citizen!" Stop. You're a pack mule carrying a load of shit that no one cares about or could care about.
The true artist takes the reader, rather than the other way around.