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Sunday 7/30/23

Facebook, being Facebook, likes to show me photos from eight, ten, twelve years ago. I guess this is useful for measuring. Others probably look at those reminders and think, "That was fun," whereas I don't have that. There is how this has been for a long time and what it needs to become. That's it. Anything on the fun-side would have to be a part of the latter.

But in these photos I do see transformation. Someone who has remade parts of themselves in order to be what they need to be to get where they are going. I was speaking to someone the other day about truth. People hate the truth and they want to kill someone who says. They want that person to suffer. They would elect for them to have a slow death. One of the reasons is because the truth and dealing with it often involves changes, and changes require effort and work. People want to be told they're great at whatever they do, because what if they're awful at it? What then?

They'd have to face that, and then either live with it, or try and fix it, if it could be fixed. That could take a massive overhaul. New approaches. It could take years of trying, with no guarantees. They would rather be lied to. "Oh, yes, your words are fascinating" or "Wow, you are such an amazing writer." But chances are they aren't and you're not. That's what publishing is. It's people lying to each other. The same with media and broadcasting. I've very rarely heard anyone who is able to speak well and dynamically. These people whose job it is to talk and pontificate. It's true that negativity sells, but those negativity-merchants aren't telling the truth. They're just saying whatever. It's not real. They're trying to get a rise. The act is the thing--not the veracity of the words, or even the words--it's the artificial action and is recognized as such to some degree. That's why people don't want them dead. That's why they follow them, tune in, purchase their products, etc. Truth isn't involved. Truth changes everything. When there is truth, there are stakes. Truth isn't a bitch. Truth plays for keeps.

I told myself the truth about myself. Then I faced those truths. And facing them involved thousands and thousands of hours of work. There were the thousands of miles I walked alone with my thoughts every year, facing truths. Then there was what I did to my body. No one said to me, "Colin, you are drinking far too much, I think there's a real problem here." I said that to me. I leveled with myself. My stress didn't help in terms of sending me to the emergency room multiple times, but drinking was a big part of it, too. That's a problem. A person with a problem. I did not fight it. I didn't try and shout it down. I was not pleased with it. I was not pleased with myself. I'm not embarrassed, either. Because it didn't define me. It was a problem to be solved. There's more to it than that. If I had kept drinking, the people in publishing who hate me would have won, and they are not going to win. I would not be honest if I said they were not a huge part of why I stopped like I did, when I did. Because I wasn't going to give them what they wanted. I am going to get myself what I deserve. However long it takes and through whatever I have to go and continue to go through. But I am going to get it.

I have found that people hate me even more because of my solutions. For instance, people go on Facebook looking for points. With nearly every post--and each adopted filter to show that they're one of the good ones (query: Do you think anyone with their Ukraine flag badges has any idea how most Ukrainians view gay people?)--I feel like asking, "Did you get the points you were looking for?" They want attention. They are very dramatic and they want others to see the drama; not because it's interesting, insightful, or might prove inspiring; it's all for attention. If someone stops drinking, they do so with a lot of help, support, they go to meetings, they may be very public about it. They backslide. They get pity. There's a lot of drama. With social media, people get attention, and they like that.

I just stopped. There was nothing else but will. People don't like that. They don't like me for things like that. People don't like me because of the stairs, before we get to the whole constant-creation/ability things. The stairs aren't the same as going for a daily morning run. There's something epic and heroic in the stairs, as I have run them and embodied a form of meaning that is beyond mere exercise. But even still, people don't run stairs. They stand out. They are special. They're for a rare person. You will see people running every day, at all times. Early morning runners, mid-day runners, evening runners. But you won't see people running stairs.

If you're a writer, and you're this member of a subculture of broken freaks, and you hardly ever write, and you just tongue people like you hoping they'll tongue you back, and you come on here and you see that I was up all night on a Saturday, then writing into the morning, then heading out without sleep to run stairs, you are going to hate me. And you'll just see it all the time. You'll come on here and see that this guy is up at four in the morning when you get up at ten, and he's just written 5000 words when you haven't written 5000 words in three years. That he knows this about that subject, that about this other subject. That he wasn't out pounding wine with empty-headed frauds the night before like you were. That he looks like he's about to lace up the skates for the hockey game and send someone flying in the corner and he does not look the type or look like he's the type you are. Hate. Fear. Envy. Guy seems like he never sleeps. He's always creating.

No one in the entire industry is going to let that guy advance if they can help it. This is a threat. A threat to ego. Peace of mind. The existence of this phony-ass industry. This is a person and and an artist who embodies truth. And who is also a very good person and that's evident, too. So it's not like he's some monster, which makes it even worse. Because these people are monsters. They're bad people.

Then there's a shelf life. Someone who may be able to tolerate someone else being all of these other things can only last so long because the hate and envy gets through and that's that. Whether it's a week, six months, a year, five years, it will happen. Right now. As I am seen as a person, and not this conceptual commodity, someone "up there" and distant, not this individual I know or work with or email, etc. The guy has a new work every single damn day. He gets stronger. There are always newly created works, books. Another invention in his art. It's ceaseless. No let-up. He never acts cruelly. He never acts out of emotion. He takes no bait. He is in complete control of himself and his mind.

People get sick of it. They get sick of the reminder that comes with contrast. "While he was doing that I was..." Shelf life. Then they snap. They act out. They do something. They get up to no-good with someone who is always going to know. It's obvious why they are doing it. It will be childish, petty, unprofessional when that's relevant, as we've seen in these pages. Indefensible. But that's what happens. There is no competing. If a person doesn't recognize that, or can't accept it, or prefers that there were and can't live with being crushed fair and square, then there will only be hate, anger, and envy, until a snapping. And that snapping will always be indicative of something that should be beneath anyone. All you have to do is say what happened, calmly, and everyone will know the truth about why that other person behaved as they did, and what it says about them. It's inarguable. And embarrassing, but people get so caught up in their anger and envy, that they can't think, let alone think, "Umm, this could really come back to bite me in the ass and follow me around and in these specific ways..." They think later when they know that everyone knows. But when they're doing it, those negative emotions are so pronounced that they can't control themselves, and they have no hold on their thoughts, and there's basically no such thing as better judgment. The horse has been shot out of the barn. It's gone. Meanwhile, I'm just watching, processing, tabulating, mentally indexing, as I do the other things I do. I note all, without breaking stride.

I would always rather face things and deal with them than pretend they are not there, no matter how bad they are. I am conditioned to this, having lived in something worse than hell for a long time now. Having dealt with a kind of discrimination that no one else has known. Thousands of people against one person because of the strengths, abilities, and virtues of the latter. Not because of anything wrong they did. Because of a surplus of talent and knowledge and character. There is no one else in my situation, nor has there ever been. These pages have laid out exactly what is happening and why. Exactingly. Surgically.

For me, the way out begins, in part, with knowing exactly what the situation is and how bad things are. I face it. I have sought to understand it. Down to every last detail. Not doing so is wasting time to me. Whereas, someone else would look away and minimize. Tell themselves whatever. As they do with other things. Someone writes a shitty story, a couple frauds like Speer Morgan and Evelyn Somers at The Missouri Review publish it because it is formulaic, staid, and lifeless, and because it was written by the kind of nothing of a writer like they are, and the author shares this news with a link on Facebook.

They want to be celebrated. Fluffed and puffed. That's the point to them. Not the work. The story will suck. They always do. We'll be doing what I call a "prose off" shortly between a recent story in The Missouri Review and a story I've recently been working on, and it will both further expose and embarrass people like Speer Morgan and Evelyn Somers, because it's not like there is a single person in the world who could honestly think, "Well, those two things are kind of close in quality." It'll be a pasting. A slaughter. And a very obvious one. This shit exists in caves of irrelevancy, where no one sees it but the people of this subculture who live in those caves. I pull it into the light here for people to see. People who otherwise never would have seen it. And then it's not possible to act like it's anything other than what it so plainly is, and how bad it is.

But in this analogy, the person with that story they've linked to on Facebook wants smoke blown up their ass. The truth is, your work is more likely to suck because people like this felt comfortable with it. They are picking that which represents the absence of a threat to them, as mediocre, untalented writers themselves. Being in venue is not this conferring of quality. It's not like the god of reality came down and rubber-stamped something as remarkable. It's almost always there for other reasons. And among the biggest of those reasons is that no one like a Speer Morgan or an Evelyn Somers viewed that work or that author as a threat. They looked at that shitty work by that shitty author as the opposite of a threat. It's parallelism. It's easy. It's comfortable. Mediocrity--and that's being generous--has a thing for mediocrity. Especially with broken people. People who have retreated from reality and truth because they're too much.

Publishing is an outpost for such people. Safe haven. Reality and truth are not allowed through these doors. You are safe within, is how they think. It's usually why they're in the system.

Let's say someone--call it a friend--had real insight into that piece of writing that wasn't good and couldn't mean anything, for real, to anyone, as constituted. Really all it is is this Facebook bijou so that empty, dead-inside MFA'ers can hit that like button like any of this actually means anything, while also not feeling too threatened or envious, because they can write the same shit and do. Could be them, next time. Especially if they kiss some asses right now. "I hope the right people see this!" such a person thinks as they make their comment below the post.

Maybe, though, if you're this friend, you even see how there might be something here. There's a kernel in this piece beneath all of the cliched, MFA-machined writing. A tiny bit of life, that could be developed into something pretty good. But with a lot of work. A different approach. A throwing aside of the bullshit.

Now do you think the person who just wants that smoke going up their ass would want to hear this? Could handle hearing it? Even when what hangs in the balance is the chance to have a really good work instead of this piece of disposable MFA formula? Or do you think they just want their bullshit Missouri Review Facebook moment and smoke up the ass? They'd want to kill that person who had a fair point and some advice that could change everything to the good. Dramatically.

Whereas, they could consider the words. Honestly vet them. Play around with the piece. Realize there was truth there. Work on it, work on it, work on it, and get something good. Finally. An honest to goodness work of value. Which leads to an overhaul, as long as it takes, in how they write, how they approach writing.

But you need to face the truth. Get ego out of the way. And do the work. And the work takes thousands of hours, often. For starters. Just to get going. Who wants to do that? That's a large reason people hate the truth. It means some pain, it means a humbling, it means the ego is beaten up, it means you have a long journey in front of you, and it's going to take time, energy, and effort.

So of course people prefer to find people who will lie to them, and you know what a key to that is? Finding people who don't give a fuck about them. You wouldn't lie to someone you cared about. Not when they could be better. When they are better, they are better for the world, the people they know, and, crucially, themselves. It's very easy to find someone to lie to you, because that's pretty much all that happens now. This is what friendships are based on. Lies. They aren't real friendships. But that's how people gauge whether a certain someone will be in their life. "Are you going to tell me what I want to hear?" People get dumber because they seek to keep out anyone who knows the truth. People now live their entire lives surrounded by what used to be called yes men--and yes women, obviously--and toadies.

Live your life this way, and you become unhealthy. You become a petulant child when the smoke isn't blown up your ass, and for no good reason at all. A petty, passive aggressive weasel, in all likelihood. You discriminate against anyone better than you are. You harbor anger. Not the productive kind that leads to effort, helps with endurance, and seeks for better ways and fruitful change. Which is actual justice. You lose the ability to cogitate. To see things for what they are. To maintain mental discipline. To act your age. To learn. To grow. Each day is bereft of purpose and is more of the same old shit. It's not a new challenge. A new opportunity to reach levels a person hasn't reached before, which is what every day should be.

You become a total bore. You speak in the currently-circulating platitudes. You use hollow, meaningless, stock adjectives. You never speak with specificity, because you can't. Rather than develop an ability to do so from the raw materials with which you were born, or to keep developing that ability as you had done for a chunk of your life, you've now eroded the very possibility of ever being able to do so again in the time you have left. You don't think through things far enough. You're really just paying a toll and the stock adjectives that you don't even mean get it paid. You become insufferable to anyone who is not this way. You are not a serious person. You're not an amusing person, because humor and wit take awareness and self-awareness. And the only reason you aren't insufferable to people like yourself is because they're looking for you to provide them what they provide you.

In other words, it's not about you and what you are in your relationship; it's your function as this repeater of lies and what they want to hear. It could be anyone, so long as they get that. You, as yourself, are irrelevant. It's self-objectification to the point of self-obsolescence. You couldn't have less respect for yourself, paradoxically, as you try to keep your ego intact. You've whored out your soul and the foundation of your being to the extent of destroying your individuality and any self-worth you might have had. You've pissed them away. The relationship is but a transaction of the exchange of lies and bullshit. It's the contract that's in place. It's what's expected.

When you exist like this, there's less and less in terms of reality and truth that you can handle. If so much as a dulled ray of light gets through, it proves blinding. The pain is too much to bear, and you likely lash out--blindly, without sense or justification. You are not a Zulu warrior in any regard. You are weakened. You are the definition of weak. In William Sloane's To Walk the Night, Bark, the narrator, tells us that his adopted father said the one unforgivable sin is weakness. This is what he meant.

The irony is that it's the aversion to truth that causes people to destroy themselves as what they might have been, and to make themselves less human. And for writers to become worse at writing, or never any better, which will never get it done because everyone, no matter how much ability they're born with, starts where they start. A human deals in reality and truth. The more a person does so, the more human they are. The point of life, in large part, is not just to be human, but to max out on being human. That's why you are here.


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