top of page

Not good

Sunday 12/4/22

Bad day on top of bad days. Or beneath. Discouragement followed by worse discouragement. The situation is just so bad and dire. The specific realities of the numbers speak to just how bad it is. How uniquely bad it is. It's just me, really. For all I do, the level I do it, where I do it, it's just me. There is no support, no followers. Just one guy entirely alone that way, too. Doesn't matter what I do or where I do it. People want something bad and something mediocre. They want to look down--or to the side--and they hate to look up. They only like to look up when it's to someone they don't view as a person, and more as a story book character. I'm not viewed that way yet, so the looking up means envy and hate and avoidance. The numbers I have looked at today, in various places, make it very hard to go on. They are not like the numbers anyone else has. By which I mean, literally anyone else. For instance, if you were to have an op-ed in a high circulation newspaper, then x, y, and z would follow. This many people would hit the like button, this many people would sign up for what you had to offer, this many people would buy a book, etc. I have that op-ed, and there isn't one like even. On social media. You look at the high circulation venue, and you see how they post the pieces. You see mediocre writer with a mediocre piece and it's 3,000 likes. Goes on and on. It can be someone publishing for the first time. It doesn't matter. That's the nature of the venue--that high-profile venue Then, in the middle of that, as you scroll through that day's pieces, or that week's, and you'll see me. And you will see zero likes. It's 2000, 2000, 1500, 3100, then me with zero, then 2000, 1700. It's always this way. It is crazy, it seems impossible to believe, but it really is that way, that really is a reasonable approximation of the numerical pattern that you see and I am always that extreme case that makes someone say, "What the hell is that about?" Every time. And people often don't know those people and those aren't good pieces. It's just how it is for everyone else. It's not paranoia. I can screenshot it. It's this way without fail or exception. People make a conscious decision when they see something they think is great by someone who is also, in a way, in the same room with them, though they're not equals. But they're also not on the story book level, where they're venerated and we don't look at them as people we might be threatened by, and more like magical characters, and that decision is essentially this: "Fuck him." And "I'll show him." And "Not on my watch." Those sentiments can take various outward forms. The most basic is, "I won't show anyone that I liked this, I'm not officially liking this." It's control. It's petty and childish, but that's most people, and it's certainly most people on the internet, which is where so much of culture plays out now. They see something bad or mediocre, and it just is how it is and goes how it goes--that's the regular way of things--and they show some form of support automatically. There are so many times when I feel like this is how I'm going to die. So that's been going on today.

I realize, too, when I say what I did, that people resent me. They don't like it. Like if I say what I did today, or any day. It doesn't make people feel good about themselves. What am I supposed to do? Say nothing? Do nothing? No handouts are coming to me. No one is going to scoop me up and give me money and a house and spread the word about me and my work. I'm not Amanda Gorman. Someone has to be Amanda Gorman. Someone has to be used. Hooked up. Valued for skin and mediocrity. If it wasn't her, it'd be someone else. But everything for everyone else is a hook up. No one is ever going to hook me up. I'm the last person in the world that anyone is ever going to hook up, because of how people see me. They don't see me as parallel to them. They see me as the person in the world least parallel to them, and it doesn't take a lot from me for them to think that way. A post here will do it. A story. A book. An op-ed. A music piece. A radio interview. When I go from one subject to another. Even the stupid stairs. Or how much I do every day. There are some people who like me because I am brave to them, and I can say what I'm feeling, what I'm going through. But they're also going to be threatened and scared of me. They can't reach out, they can't show any support. And with no one else showing support? What, they're going to step up? People are also scared I'll reject them, or they won't be "good" enough or cool enough or whatever. I don't pretend with what I'm going through, and certain people take something from that, they come to this blog and they obsess for a week going through it and that will be the extent of it. People often feel like they have to pretend, to say that all is well, lest others think less of them. They find me empowering that way. Because I'm open and they think more of me, but that also makes them feel more intimidated by me. I give them a little courage, and it helps them to know that here's someone who is all these things, and this is what's happening. Like on Thanksgiving. My family, excepting my sister and mom, are pretty much all here. They all know I'm alone. They chose not to invite me. No one invited me for Thanksgiving. They know I'm the kindest person, good company, the smartest person. Want to talk some Patriots, well, Colin's your guy. Has an easy laugh. Nice way about him. And, as I said, they know I'm alone. I had nowhere to go. They choose to not include me, and had no problem leaving me out and on my own to get through that hellish day by myself. Christmas will be the same. Often it's envy. And often it's because they look at me as this not human figure, as this god-type, who isn't affected by things like being alone. They don't treat me like a human. It's Colin, he's this super being. He doesn't need the basic kindness we'd show to anyone else. He doesn't need friends, family. Everyone did that on purpose. I put things up on Instagram in the Story section, so I can see who looks at it. That's the only reason. I'll see publisher who won't hit the like button showing up. I have a cousin named Melissa. We were close. I lived with her family one summer. I helped her with homework. She's always the first or second person to look at what I post. She's never hit the like button. She does for everyone. And yes, I do it with her. When I published a beautiful op-ed the other day, which I didn't even post on here, no one hit the like button. When I mention it's the anniversary of giving up alcohol, no one hits it. She doesn't hit it, and she's a nurse. It's not because she doesn't like me. It's because that's how people feel they need to be towards me. When I have a book come out no one hits it. My sister doesn't. I'm an incredibly kind and generous person to these people. That's just how it is. These are the people who "like" me. I have the entire industry of publishing against me. And it's not like the world, as I've explained above, likes me. Not right now. People like people like them. They provide comfort. They don't like greatness. They envy it, fear it, hate it. My own presses don't share my work on social media. They do with all of their other writers. And those aren't good writers, frankly. They're usually very similar and mediocre. What am I supposed to do at this point, pretend otherwise? Why? We're here. I'm here. This is the reality. And what they'll have shared is some bad joke that isn't even about their book, or some piece in some place that is someone's blog they launched last week or some mindless listicle. It's not some amazing cover story for a magazine. None of them so much as hit the like button and retweet it when it's me. Think about that.

That's what's going on today. That's what's always going on. I realize people resent me when they see the productivity documented on here. They resent me when I can be open about what I'm going through. Just how bad this is. How alone I am. Other people wouldn't say these things. Do you know how hard Thanksgiving was for me? It just keeps going. When I wrote the Sam Cooke book, I mentioned a bunch of people in the acknowledgments. I said really touching things about them. A number of those people never even told me they read the book, let alone said anything nice about it. They were really sweet things, too. If I ask someone, politely, they ignore me. There is no place where any of this torture leaves off. And it's not how it is for anyone else, and it's not like people enjoy their work. You see it on Facebook. Someone says, "Here's this new short-short of mine," and God is it awful. I screenshot one today that was just...I's hard to quantify how bad it was. 500 people show support. Do you know why? They didn't like that piece. It's just what they do for that person, because that person and what they are doesn't threaten them in the slightest. They don't care one way or the other--it's just automatic. I threaten people to the marrow of their bones. Because of virtues. Can you even imagine what it is like having that be your life? This is why I'm alone? Why I'm in poverty? Why everyone behaves this way towards me? But if I sucked? If I was mediocre? Lazy? Mean? A dick? Selfish? Unhelpful? Then I could have a life and be treated as everyone else gets treated?

I know people resent me when I say that that was the day, but I still forced myself to write a new 2500 word piece, to do 100 push-ups, to not drink, to run 5000 stairs. So I can keep enduring this and not have a heart attack. Why should I not want the heart attack at this point? I was saying to my mom the other night that if she had a guarantee that it would always be this way for me, she couldn't want me to keep living. It's be better if I died. Would she really want me to go through this for another fifty years? I haven't been touched in seven years. Do you understand that? I am entirely rejected by humanity because of what I am. And I just keep growing and getting better, and it somehow becomes more hopeless as a result. Ten years ago I couldn't do a lot of what I do now, and what I've become able to do over that decade has increased the resentment, which was already significant, towering. As I become kinder still it becomes worse. As I create more it becomes worse. As I invent more. As making art becomes ever-easier for me, even as I am in this hell and knowing many thousands of people are going to try and stop anyone from seeing it or from allowing me to get to a place, with support, with backing, which would allow the work to get through, presented not in a vacuum but in a way such that people would know what was going on, and that here was something for them. The channels they expect and rely upon. There are people who hate getting a notification in their email that there's another entry in this journal. They think, "That guy again." It doesn't make them feel good. The endless productivity doesn't make anyone feel good about themselves. I'm almost tempted to say, "Don't sign up. I am creating this remarkable record of a unique mind and a singular historical quest, and a celebration of the possibilities of the human spirt, and showing what it means to endure, what true faith and decency is, and I am on the side of justice, and revealing what needs to be revealed which no one has the courage or knowledge to even begin to do, and there has never been, nor will there ever be, an artist like me, but you're not going to like it. You're going to unsubscribe in a few days. So just don't sign up." Everything I just said about this record was true. And the writing is at a matchless level. But no one wants that. They don't want what they want. They want things for other reasons. They want an echo, and they want to look in a mirror and see someone like them. They don't want to be entertained, to laugh, to be thrilled. To learn. They want someone like them, no matter how boring they are, how little they have to say or offer. And they'll pay for it. I looked on Substack today at this writer who is forty and looks fifty-three. A total Brooklyn, cronyism-loving writer. They've done so little. Owes what he does have entirely to cronyism. The Brooklyn literary community writer kind. That htmlgiant culture. They have the beard, the glasses, the professor look, the gut. They don't have any special knowledge. Their fiction is laughable. I could put some in later I guess. No one would disagree. It's impossible to honestly disagree, that's how bad it is. But that's not the point of this right now. Their nonfiction is them talking blandly about "craft" or things directly related to their very narrow vein of fiction. So narrow. They can only do the same thing every time out. They have 30,000 followers on Twitter for the precise reason that there is nothing there, they have no ability, no knowledge, nothing to say, not even the occasional witty line. There is nothing you can get from this man. He has nothing to offer you. But hundreds of people pay money to read their blog on Substack. I read the samples. I read some of those samples to someone on the phone, in case I had lost it and there was something I wasn't seeing. And it was so boring. There was nothing there. I said to that person I was talking to, "People pay for that. Why?" They didn't have an answer for me. I know the answer, though. People will buy something like that and have no expectation of being entertained or being made to feel interested. It's for other reasons. Again, someone like them. To support that community, the ethos of that culture. Like they're fostering something, contributing, playing a part. Or just that there's no threat. And I am such a threat. I should be an inspiration. But right now, almost everyone takes it and me as the ultimate threat.

So that's today. This is a bad, bad time.


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page