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Nothing you can do that can't be done

Tuesday 4/9/19

Twenty-two-year-old Salem State psych major writes me on the Tinder. This is pretty typical. She asks me what I write. I usually try and deflect this a little, because what would you answer if you were me? So I say that it's pretty extensive and there's not a quick one sentence answer. So she says, "what's the best thing you've written?" There is no best thing I've ever written. It is all the same, qualitatively. Nothing is better than anything else. I always reach the same point. Each and every time. Each and every story, book, piece. Every last time. I am unique as an artist that way. In any medium. I don't say any of this. I just say that I don't really have a best thing. I'm not lying. I am answering truthfully--because I don't like to lie, and I think when you lie to someone you are flaunting your lack of respect for them--without responding in hundreds of lines. Which is what would be required to begin to get into it. I could just give the link to the site, but I don't like doing that. I don't like being stalked. And I am trying to keep things separate, at least until I know someone is worth my time. It used to be that I would meet someone once every two to three years worth any time. Or whom I thought was worth my time. In terms of "hmmm, this could actually be something and something that lasts." It's been longer than that now. So, for her final question--and I'm trying to engage her in her stuff, but she's not responding--she asks me if I could at least tell her what genre I write in. No win situation. Do I write genre? I obviously don't write genre, and you can't say I write literary fiction either, and I can't say, look, I'm the best artist there has been, there is no historical analogue for me, no one has done anything like what I do, I am trying to change the world as an industry seeks to silence me, which obviously doesn't happen if you're just any other writer, and oh yeah I wrote a book last week that was humor, my next book is fiction, then a music book, then a film book, and today I wrote on God and yesterday I wrote on a painting and a video game and tomorrow I'm writing on a film and a French novelist and doing a short story and proofing the humor book and also writing on jazz and today I talked on the radio. You can't say that, because though it's all true, you sound crazy. Or, they think, "if you do all of that, why are you not famous and rich and why don't I know you as a household name and why are you on Tinder?" Exactly. So I just said, "I don't write genre." And she said, "Next time you're going to lie about being an author, maybe have some answers ready to go for these questions." At that point, sure, I'll send you the link to the site, and be on my merry way. But she erased me first. Again, very typical. That I am not what people want me to be, based upon their limited, unimaginative concepts of what I--a fellow human--might be able to be--which stems from their own projections--they get angry and it becomes "I'll show you!" I have this married friend who is like, "You could just hook up with so many people of all ages with the whole genius thing and being a good looking guy, why don't you do that?" It's not what I'm looking for, first off. I'm looking for someone brilliant, dynamic, laden with character, who is capable of being a part of history, who grows, who has courage, who compels and surprises me, and who is not weak and will always be the smartest person in any room she walks into during her life. And secondly, there is so much anger out there when you don't fit within the narrow box that people wish you to fit in, which they fit in comfortably with room for a second or a third. Thirdly, I don't trust anyone in this age. I think people lie constantly and they seek to end the lives of people they fear are better than them, or whom they think have wronged them, regardless if they actually wronged them. People put you in a position where unless you lie, to make yourself sound more like them, the more they will dislike you. That's before they know you. And then, often, when they do know you--and this is how it goes in publishing--and what you do, and they're galaxies and galaxies away from that, they hate you because it makes them feel inferior. That takes all kinds of forms. It takes turning down every last story as soon as they see the name at the top, not responding to an email in five years, telling people at other places they hate you and to ignore you, not reviewing your work, not paying you the money they owe you, making sure you win no awards, making sure you don't get the six figure staff gig they know you are comically more qualified for than the person they're going to give it to, not anthologizing you, and on and on and on and on. Do you want to know something fun? I have answered people in the past with these questions. Very limitedly. I've said that I do fiction and, say, sports writing and music writing. I'm not lying, but I'm massively omitting. Guess what happens? Guess what happens with that very limited representation of what I might do within a single afternoon? They call me a liar. Because no one could do that. This is the norm. Not some outlandish anecdote that stands out from the others. It's how it usually goes. With people of all ages. Well, eighteen to forty-five.


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