I'm all prepared to compose much tomorrow, and get caught up on getting paid. I fall behind sometimes with paperwork, and at other places the money does not come and I fall behind in following-up. It's so hard to do anything more than compose, write these letters to these people, exercise, then I sleep, and do it again. That is all my life is.
A park ranger at the Monument made a funny joke today when I came in--I don't really interact with them much, because they are doing park ranger things usually and guiding people here or there or answering questions--and asked if I was going to try and set my record today. No record today. Walked three miles, did a quick five climbs. Pitched an op-ed on something I detailed yesterday in this journal about people getting offended within the Monument. That went to The New York Times, where I am hated. Also pitched The New York Times Magazine regarding a Letter of Recommendation idea--I really don't want to have to do a journal entry on this guy after years of what has happened and documenting all of that, but I'm on the verge of it--centered on Miles Davis's Birth of the Cool sessions, but I am hated there as well. Sent a story to The American Scholar, where I am hated even more, and BOMB, where I am also hated.
There are thousands of dollars, even without staff jobs and bestsellers and film deals, to be made every day, fruit waiting to be plucked from the vine, simply because I have my track record and write as I do and can write on so much and so quickly, which I could have plucked ten years ago, but the hate level is so high right now, and pervasive. I took that 1800 word piece I had written on Saturday, which, as I said, I don't expect the place I wrote it for to take it--that person does not hate me, but they also do not like me--and did a second version, cutting it down to 650 words for another place, because that is their preferred length. That took fifteen minutes. I can just cut and reshape--it's like architecture and moving parts of buildings around--and have a brand new work which looks like I had designed it to be that length. Tomorrow I'm all set to finish the nightmare essay, write an essay on Orson Welles and Moby-Dick, compose more of "A man outside of a playground," and while I walked to the Monument today I composed in my head an op-ed about White House visits which I can also write as a longer essay. I can get two pieces out of that idea.
Emma was in crisis mode because she needs to write an essay and it is her last essay for eighth grade and she wants it to be very special and deeply personal and it's hard for her to really open herself up in her writing just yet. (She also wants to show her teachers they have made a difference in her life, which is sweet. She's a good kid, albeit one who has texted and called me a "bitch" or a "pussy" in, well, I think she's up to six languages now.) She still think that people will think less of her. Which is not the case. They'll think more of her. That's how it is. I gave her the example of myself, with what I reveal, and she's never thought less of me, nor has anyone. When you are comfortable enough, confident enough, self-aware enough, to be fully open, people respect you more. It also makes it easier for them to do the same. You inspire them, and you also inspire connection between you. Some will loathe you because they live a lie and could never do that. But no one thinks less of you. I told her I'd help her, so I went to Starbucks to meet and went through the entire thing, and gave her a page and half of handwritten line-by-line notes.
A lot of it was little things. She's so anxious to complete what she's writing and have something good, that she rushes. I think her anxiety speeds up her writing. It takes as long as it takes, I said. I told her that I know her and I know what she's thinking or trying to say sometimes, but there's a balance between writing freely and taking into consideration your reader. You have to be clear for your reader. (Or, alternately, if you want to leave something a little open for them, or even confuse them a little, you have to be thinking of their side of it, their take-away. There is such a thing as being clearly confusing. When you are clearly confusing, you're producing a sensation and thought process of, "What? Then couldn't this also mean..." You see? But you always have to think about what the reader's take-away is.) What means something to you might not mean something to them. You have to always account for that. So she needed to clean up some sentences.
Then there are just some bad habits to break, things never to do, phrases never to use. Some parts will interest her less and she'll try and cheat through a transition to get to something she thinks is meatier. No. It all needs to be meaty meat. There is no gliding--it's all skating. You point those out once to her and she won't do them again. I make sure I tell her the really good bits--like she had something pretty funny about her dad in there, how he was all gung-ho about the two of them writing together, and then he wouldn't contribute a single line, but she still put his name on the title page--and that the other stuff is easy to clean up. It's not like she doesn't have ability to work with. She also really hasn't had any help before. She had a friend coming in at the cafe and I said, okay, I'll just pop over here to this other table and go through this, and I have some work to do of my own, too, but when I went to stand up she clasped my arm, had this scared little look on her face, and said, "Can't you do it here?" and I said, okay, that's fine, we're good, relax, buddy. (I had this great teacher in tenth grade, Ms. Wassel. So, I was this hockey star, right? But every day, I'd stay after school, to discuss Shakespeare and memorize lines. Other kids needed help, and they'd be there, and I didn't, of course, I was just there. Anyway, whenever someone in class would raise their hand and share this out there theory, or maybe cite a character who was not in the play or the book we were reading, Ms. Wassel would go, "Whoa! Looks like somebody had some extra pages in their book!" It's was hilarious. You could say anything, and nothing embarrassing would happen to you, because she thought this was great, and it probably made kids think and say things they normally didn't have the courage to say or think. I really admired her and how she taught. It was fun, too. That was a really great environment for learning, and she made it that way. I wrote this essay and it had this all-time clunker of a line. Read for this? This is so bad! I said that "so and so was force fed into the mouth of reality." The mouth of reality! Oh my goodness that's awful. So, Ms. Wassel signed my yearbook, "Never force feed anyone into the mouth of reality.") Then we walked the dog, I walked them both back to the building, and I said goodbye and went back to Starbucks, to work some more so I'll be ready to compose tomorrow. I also pitched something on Scorsese's upcoming film on Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue tour to The Daily Beast. And I came up with some other Daily Beast ideas for later. One is on some gossiping 12th century monks and a diary written by a member of their order, that knits up the Middle Ages with 2019.
I am so down right now. I only know down, but there are still degrees. It has been one of those days where it's just hard to hang on, where you are thinking, I could end my life this way, or that way, I wish I was handier at these things, but kids do it, how hard can it be? Those kinds of thoughts. No hope. Completely abandoned by most people I used to know. That's bad enough. The hope thing is the larger issue though, by far. I hate being able to make art every day that millions of people would love that no one gets to see, as I beg and try to find a way to get through this blockade. There is nothing you can write that does it. When I write something like that great, provocative piece that ran in The Washington Post yesterday, I don't so much as pick up a Twitter follower. And publishing people see it, and they think "oh, look, another one from this guy," and that ups the hate. They want to see you fail. And they certainly don't want you to achieve without their say-so.
People will flock to you when they know the name, not the work. The work is absolutely irrelevant until the name is known. At which point, if the work is good--great, historic, unique--the work is incredibly relevant. Because the work spreads. It spreads the name, too. It travels fast. It can coat and soak through entire portions of culture and society. But just the work on its own, sans a name? No one is going to come to you then. The work doesn't get you a platform. It expands the platform. I am sure that lots of people read and enjoyed that piece, as with hundreds of others, but they don't know my name. I have no recognition, awards, I am not profiled, because publishing has made sure that I won't have those things. Finding the solution to this is the entirety of my life now. So it's very upsetting knowing right now, at half past six on Thursday evening, that come twelve hours from now, I'm going to be deep into creating four or five all-timer works of art tomorrow which can do nothing for me in this situation.
How do you keep living like that? Everything I can ever be or have is tied up in me finding this solution. Not being alone, not being poor, not dying in anonymity. To be honest with you, I have no idea how I am able to be a nice person or even get out of bed. I guess in part I get out of bed because this apartment is so gross and the mattress is warped and I hate being in here with this filth and no room to move. There's a little hollow at the desk, and I sit there and I write. The shades have not even been open in seven years. You can't even get to them. I just sit and write and then flee to climb, so I can stay physically strong, then I sit and work at Starbucks, and come home and pass out and do it again.
If I was awful at writing and not what I uniquely am, these people in this horrible industry wouldn't have hated me. Well, if I also went to Yale and had grown up in Greenwich, CT, and was connected to the right parts of society. Then they wouldn't have stood in my way, but I also would have had awful work that couldn't do anything either in or for the world. I'd be lionized to these people, in their circles, but what is that, what does that get you? Is there a more hollow victory? Doesn't mean anything. You have to be a great artist with greatly entertaining work to matter to the world at large, to truly matter. I have all of that. When I was Emma's age, the irony was that this was what I worried about. If I had that. I never thought that if you did have it, you could be totally screwed unless you found a solution, started a revolution, destroyed a system. But now, at this point, I would do anything to trade away my genius and not be able to do what I do. And then it's like God or the universe is mocking me, because each day, literally each day, I get better at it. I also work to get better at it. Is that dumb? I guess the thinking is, "well, you're in this deep now, you're all in, and you're banking everything on either making this happening or just dying, taking your own life, and if you do the latter, that's that anyway, and if you make it work out, you're going to be glad, because you have it in you to change the world to the good more than anyone ever has, and for that, you would have needed to start with more ability and then also get better with it every day, because it would take all of that to have that level of impact upon humanity." I do wish I was born anyone else though. If I could pick and go back. I would rather be anyone else. Anyone. Anyone but me.
That's where we are at. This is forced, and to honest with you, I can never care less who wins a sporting contest; my teams winning brings me no joy. They could, if I wasn't in this situation. But I am. But I'm going to force myself to be conversational on this subject and say that I think the Bruins can and will advance in five or six games, and they will play the Sharks in the Finals and that will be a hard match-up. I actually used to like the Whalers quite a bit. Awesome uniforms. It was cool having another New England team. I liked Mike Liut. And I think he is one of the worst hitters in MLB and a sorely overrated defender, but that catch that Jackie Bradley made last night was as fine an outfield catch as you will see.
I'm dehydrated again. I need to drink some water. I do all of my water drinking at night, huge quantities. It's probably not how to do this.
"Delight is to him, whom all the waves of the billows of the sea of the boisterous mob can never shake from this sure Keel of the Ages."