I'm afraid I am not working very hard today. I am working in my head, planning, making lists to get formally organized for the next big push, but I am exhausted. The migraine I had for three straight days finally broke at like 1 in the morning. And then I was just up, and mostly useless. I have a lot of big things in the work, and while it's not a "seize the day" situation in my world, given how everything stands, it is a "find a way to stop them from denying you your day" thing. That involves doing some version of regathering and getting strong for what is next.
That was from this morning. It's not what ended up happening. It was necessary for me to go to war in these pages. Also, I wrote an op-ed on the new name of the Cleveland baseball team which was about a lot more besides--how we push facile shit to the front of our culture out of fear which does no one any good--that ran in the New York Daily News and I turned to what had been an essay. A friend was banging the drum really hard this week for how it should be a story. I thought, eh, that's not right. My friend is somewhat like Ryne Duren. He was a relief pitcher in the 1960s for the Yankees. And Ryne Duren, who had these super thick glasses, was crazy wild. But he threw nothing but gas. He just didn't know where it was going. Sometimes, in warm-ups, he'd throw the ball clear over the screen. It wasn't uncommon for him to throw over the heads of batters, or behind them, or at their feet. But when he hot that heater over the plate, he was a huge weapon for his team. Sometimes my friend chucks the ball over the screen. Other times, it's over the plate and the batter can't touch it. So what I'll always do is give something a look if he says something. I looked at this piece, and I didn't think he'd be right. Sure enough, he was. After I changed quite a bit. Well, not a huge, huge amount. But I had to change tone, and I had to change the overall ring of the thing. And what do you know, it's an awesome short story called "Dot."
I also ran 3000 steps and got some peppers for my blood pressure.
This is a letter to the Inner Circle:
Okay, man, you win. I went through this hard, changed quite a bit, transitioned it from essay to story. Gave it the ring of story. And yeah, it's really good. Very odd way to write a piece of fiction. It's 4000 words long.
You do realize that the only thing that holds me back from global dominance is these people, right? As dumb as the world is, it's these people of this industry. And now what do I do? I have 400 stories here--because I had 100 before I went off and wrote 300--and about fifteen completed books of all kinds in a pile with nothing to do with them. No one to put them out, let alone back them, market them, give them a chance. I can't do a Dzanc book once every three, four, seven years and get anywhere.
You know what I did this week? I did this story. I did "The Backyard Dancer." I did "Frog Boy Skin." I talked on the radio. I had an op-ed on sports come out in a major newspaper. I had a feature come out in the main jazz magazine. I sent those stories to The New Yorker. Secured an excerpt for my Sam Cooke book with The Daily Beast. I started "Captain Enclave." Wrote a column for The Wall Street Journal on Sam Cooke.
Can you even imagine if these people wanted anything to do with me and didn't view me as the devil they'd prefer to be dead? Can you even imagine?
And the blogs.
What do these people do? What do they ever do? What can they even do? But they get the money, the awards, the book deals, the chances. I get hate and envy. Derision. And this life I'm living, which is hell. That does not cover it.
Words--not mine--that are often in my head:
I don't know but I've been I've been told
If the horse don't pull you got to carry the load
I don't know whose back's that strong
But maybe we'll find out before too long.
One way or another
One way or another
One way or another
This darkness got to give.