This is like a nightmare that never ends and just gets worse. What will end it? Death?
I wrote an 800 word op-ed on Francoise Gilot for Saturday, which is the fiftieth anniversary of Pablo Picasso's death. I have four new op-eds right now: three for Easter, and this one. Two of the Easter op-eds are "evergreen," in that they don't necessarily have to be for this Easter. The other one--as it is tied in to the 150th anniversary of Rachmaninoff's birth--would need to be for this Easter. Or else it would just to have to go into a book of my collected opinion pieces, and that's something well done the line, and allowing that the nightmare ends and becomes something else. Not death.
Here is Tuesday's radio interview, about artful and entertaining children's programs (after one gets past the Red Sox conversation at the beginning), including The Railway Children, Frog and Toad, Bagpuss, The Children of Green Knowe, and Maggie, which is one of the best television shows I've seen.
I am badly in need of money. So, regarding the four op-eds, that then meant writing letters to thirty people at thirty places, knowing how this would mostly play out. Almost all ignored me.
One woman talked to me like I had just graduated college and had never published anything in my life. My letter spelled everything out--succinctly, efficiently. It's not bad enough that you have the bigotry thing to contend with; you're almost always dealing with truly simple, stupid people. The simplest. The dumbest. It remains amazing to me, even as long as I've done this, how flat out stupid most people in publishing are. I mean, you don't know anyone in your life this dumb. And people are plenty dumb. I could have said something to her, given that she talked to me like I was a small, dumb child, or else a recent college grad/eager beaver trying to get his first thing published. But I didn't. Not worth it right then.
Someone else wrote back simply because they wanted to share something about themselves--namely, that they owned an original artwork by Francoise Grilot. Couldn't publish the piece, though. No reason. Because there is no reason. Or, rather, the reason is I'm not the right kind of person. This is very rarely about anything else. All the work these people publish is the same. So how to determine what gets published? It's a case of "What are you to me?"
Then we have one actual writer who writes things on a level that no one can approach. And it's that guy who is lost and getting screwed.
Not everyone is this way. I don't want to go through that all again, the whole "relax if it's not you I'm referencing." I don't even like writing that. I'm trying to be clear. I don't like writing it because this journal isn't a dialogue. It's not a conversation. It's not even a one-sided conversation. It's an account of a life and a person and an artist.
This one person turned down the Gilot piece with a reason. He never has a reason, because what can he say? "You're not the right kind of person." Which is what it is. But when they have a readymade, convenient reason like this, that's when they'll say something. As it was, he had a piece on Gilot lined up. Pretty random coincidence. But: if he hadn't had it lined up, he wouldn't have taken mine. But because he did, he could say what he did, and pass it off that way. Get it? Laura Marsh, the literary editor at The New Republic, loves this technique. I'm not the right color or gender. I'm not his friend. I'm not a system person. I didn't go to Harvard with him. I just write things that are better than anything anyone else writes. And I can guarantee that this piece that he runs--whatever it is--will be a piece that is smoked by what I wrote. We can put them back to back and the gap in quality will be obvious.
I have been useless with workouts the last three days. It is hard to keep going. On Sunday I ran 10,000 stairs, walked five miles, and did 100 push-ups. On Monday and Tuesday I ran 4000 stairs and did 100 push-ups each day. I will start again tomorrow.
I have a feature in the April issue of JazzTimes on Wes Montgomery. It's very good. I don't have a link for it because JazzTimes was sold, they don't have an editor right now, and no one has updated the site in weeks. It's in the print issue, but obviously that's not a link. I'm also owed money that I'm not getting, which is a regular theme. They're not stealing from me; they're cash-strapped. The money, I am told, will come in in bits, once a week, until we're caught up. But it hasn't been coming in in even the bits.
I realize that I can't delay anymore and just need to start putting up entries up here about people on a daily basis, or close to it. I mentioned Bloomsbury's BFI Film Classics series before, and that editor. I'm still not using her name, as one can see. What one should also note is that I hadn't said anything about this previously, and as I noted in that last entry, it's gone on for years. I don't like to do this. And I do what I shouldn't do, and think, "Well, give it a bit longer, maybe, well, they'll, you know, who knows, give them another month, maybe write a piece about one of the subjects you proposed, publish it, send them the link, maybe wait, maybe maybe maybe."
But I'm being done dirty. Right? You keep saying maybe, maybe, maybe this person will stop being an asshole or a bigot, or both--which is what you're really doing--and the days go away, and the weeks, the months, the decades, and then you're dead. Am I supposed to just be okay with that? Would these people be okay with that if they were in my situation?
It would also be like a blood bath, because it's thousands of people. It's even places I've worked for, presses I've done books with.
But it's all factual. Why should I protect anyone? This can't be worse. And, more than that, it is what it is, as they say.
See a theme, though? I take it for years. It's not one strike and off I go. As I said, I am gentle and I am kind. Wait until one sees something of mine on Sunday that will be in front of many thousands of people--it epitomizes who I am, how I live my life and it's not the kind of thing that anyone else in the world would write or could write. See other themes? Injustice. A rudeness that's more than just rude. It's something sinister.
So, at this point, I just need to do it. Be thorough. Go through everyone. Keep going and going and going and going until people get the message and realize that you can't treat me this way, so knock it off, get your act together, and make it right. And to think, the horror: You get to publish and put forward the best work anyone ever did. That's awful. How terrible for your press to put out a Beatles book by the world's best Beatles writer, or for your magazine to run "Fitty," a story that can stop kids from being murdered in schools, or for your operation to publish Cheer Pack with its stories that ran in the VQR, Harper's, Glimmer Train--you know, the kind of places that mean so much to these people when anyone else is in them with their meaningless stories.
That's the "penalty" here. You get to publish amazing work. The best. Which makes you look good. Work that can do something in this world. But what they look at as being the ultimate punishment is in allowing me to move forward. Me. This person who represents all of these things they aren't. That's a blow to them. It's too much.
Isn't that amazing? Goes to show you how much these people hate me. Yes, it's hate. But not hate most of all. Envy. Fear. But you know what else it shows? How much these people hate readers. That's the bigger thing in my mind. That's something the Nashville post from the other day was getting at. This is about them and their delicate egos, their insecurities, and wanting to be able to get away with anything they wish, zero accountability.
I went on a walk with this guy who owes everything he has ever gotten to playing the race card. And for two hours, he bragged about himself. How did he start? "Hello" was barely out of my mouth, before he began talking about his agent and how important he is. (As a general rule, the faster and more readily someone starts talking about their agent, the more insecure they are because the less legitimate and talented they are.) And in those two hours, he didn't so much as ask me a single thing about myself.
He even told me he got paid money he didn't have coming to him, because when his contract as an editor wasn't renewed--he wasn't fired; his contract was just up--this other editor who had preceded him--a sociopath--and who had allegedly bullied someone so severely in the work place that that person killed himself (gunshot to the head), said to this guy, in effect, "Hey, they think I helped kill somebody, and when I had your job and left, they paid me, so you should point that out and add that you're Black, because how would that look with you being Black and all?"
And he did. And he got paid. A generous severance package. Got himself a Guggenheim the same way, more or less. That's how he gets everything. He can't do anything else. And here, in this world, with these people? You don't need to be able to anything at all. In fact, it's better if you can't. That's how they want you to be. Just like them.
There's a lot more to this that incriminates a lot of people at this venue and two others, which would be for the full entry with all of the specifics. I don't want to do that, do you know what I mean? Again: I'm not a confrontational person. I just want to create my work and have my work be treated fairly. Run where it should run, because it's better than what does run. But I am also willing to do anything at all in order to make sure that that is what ultimately happens because of merit, without any discrimination. There is no one who can deny the quality of my work. There is no one who can read "Fitty" and think, "This is a step down for us." It annihilates the competition. There is no competition.
I'm not in the one in the wrong here, let alone the one who has done the things these people have done, or who operates as they operate. But that's for later. If necessary. Probably just better to make it right if that's what one is doing to me, and stop the discrimination.
This goes much further than what I'm saying right now, and ties into other entries I've put up on here and others I need to, and some other bad people, including one who is as bad as anyone out there and who also took money from me that I was owed. And this guy, he's as filthy as anyone in publishing. He's also so dumb that he told me--this is an editor now, who breaks every moral rule there is and is as loathsome and just plain gross as you can be--in an email that he had his friends to hook up, and his friends came first, and even if I wrote the Bible, he wouldn't publish it. He actually wrote that to me. This would be John Freeman. Let's just name him now. He's as bad as you get. Oversteps every line of decency and ethics, and is an absolute bigot. To do the first entry on him is a lot of work. It goes so far, this man's treachery.
He's someone who tells someone like Patrick Ryan (among others) at One Story to not publish a story by me. They're friends. I know how corrupt One Story is. I know how they accept the stories they run. I have first hand testimonies, as well as things I've witnessed in person with my own eyes and ears. And I will name the names. Every last one of them. Spell it all out. I have a letter ready to go to their publisher for legal purposes, as I also send three works in a final attempt to do the one story here, and then that's it; we're done, because they can only publish someone once anyway; but again, that's mostly for legal purposes, so that I can say, "They were offered X, Y, Z"--call it "Fitty," "Best Present Ever," "Big Bob and Little Bob."
That is more the reason why I send things now. To be able to say later, and legally, if necessary, that you were offered those works. Meanwhile, you published this person for this reason, this person for that reason, and here is their work.
I have the proof of what is happening. I'm not spitballin' theories here. I have the facts. I have the evidence. And then, on top of that, I have the work and there is no comparison between my work and what they're putting out.
Do you think I want to be sending such letters? As I'm writing thousands of words? It goes so far, the corruption.
You know who gets upset about these things? The people about whom they're true. Think about that. They get angry because what you said--what you have proof of--is true.
What is more illogical than that? People don't even have to be the people you're referencing. If they are people about whom the same things--the same themes--are true, they will hate you. But they're true! You have to be so simple and obtuse to have a problem with the person who knows what is true than to have issue with yourself if those true things aren't good things.
I'm not the one doing it. Nor am I making you have those shortcomings. I am not the one making you act like a bad person. I'm not the one who makes you not good at writing if you're not good at writing. I'm not doing the stealing, the discriminating, the bullying. I'm not doing the rudeness. You're upset at me because I know what's true? It's blatant what's true. So logistically, what would you expect me to do? Pretend? Non-stop pretending that what's true isn't true? Why? For you? Because that's my "place"? You're upset with me because I'm not willing to be treated horribly? And for reasons of strengths and virtues?
Because there are these people out there who will defend this system no matter what. Not outwardly. It's indefensible. It's impossible to outwardly defend it. They defend it with anger, hate, and whisper campaigns. "Just 'cause." There's no reason--not a single, valid, thought-out reason behind the defense. It's "just 'cause." Behind the scenes. And inside of themselves as they stew in that anger and hate.
Why? You have all of this free will. You can change things. You can change how you act, how you write, what you stand for, how you treat people. Why not just focus on that instead of being so irrational in one's animus?
What's the "just 'cause"? That they got an MFA and spent that money for what? That they struggle so hard to write anything? I don't mean anything good. I mean to make two sentences on a page. To even open a new Word document. That they don't know anything? That they're not some expert in anything? That it takes them four months to write 500 words and then they throw it away because it's embarrassing? So, because those things are true, and this other person makes that person feel bad about themselves with what he is, everything that the latter person says should be happy and positive so that they can feel better, even if that means willingly partaking of and fostering delusion? 'Cause it's so hard, man. Or else that other person should just shut their damn mouth and accept torture and suffering on behalf of these people? Give up everything and anything for them. Just 'cause.
And do that, too, while you're being discriminated against, because you're not in that boat with them that I just described?
What else can I do for you, then? May I lie my body down outside your door and be a mat for you? Could I be your toilet paper? Where would that end? Under what obligation do you think I'm under to be delusional for your benefit and elevate you and subjugate my very life to yours, so that you don't have to contend with reality?
Here's what has happened. People want attention and they want to have their "thing." With publishing and writing, you have people who have made being a writer their thing. But they don't write. And when they do write, very few of them write competently, let alone well. This is their everything on which the self is based. And it doesn't work, because they're not that thing. That's why they need others to pretend they are. Or not look very deeply. That's what the system is. It's others pretending and not looking deeply so that everyone can foster the necessary lies.
Anything or anyone--or any work of artful writing (or thousands from one person)--that reveals those lies for what they are, by way of comparison, or simple statement of reality, of facts, of truths, is a threat that must be stamped out, blocked off, what have you. How would you face any of this if you were those people? How do you level with yourself at thirty-eight or sixty-eight and come clean and then do what you have to do?
You know what's ironic, too? I said that these people build their whole sense of self and identity on this thing that they're not. But you know what? They don't work at it at all. They put in so little effort to get better. They spend so little time actually writing. How much does it mean to you, then, as the thing it is? It means almost nothing to them in actuality. But they need to think they have a "thing." And here, you can just pretend. The people in your world--that is, the publishing world, the lit mag world, the MFA world, the academic world--aren't going to stop you even by dint of their example. They're going to be like you too.
But what if someone wasn't?
And that's what we have here with me. It's no one doing anything to anyone. It's someone being something else entirely and truly.
Here's another bit of irony: If those people weren't hell-bent on discriminating against that person, none of them would be mentioned in these pages. There wouldn't be talk either about their system and how they are. There would be very little about how publishing works in this journal.
You know what this entry might have been about then? How I spent the morning sitting on a log by a pond reading a book and drinking coffee and listening to the birds.
I'd so much rather have that be the case and write that entry than this one.