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Untying the laces

Wednesday 11/10/21

So: I am working on five pieces right now simultaneously. Two are short stories, two are jazz essays, one is about soul music. I'll finish them very quickly. Someone is waiting to see a finished version of the essay collection, which I feel better about than ever because I've worked so hard on it, going over it again and again, simplifying, streamlining. Two people are waiting on music book proposals. I have to get the Beatles chapters/proposal in order with someone else, who is my top choice for that project, which is where a lot of my focus must go. There are thirty short stories in various stages of development. Ideas are in place for fifty others. I have now completed more 330 short stories since June 2018. I also keep developing "The Hornet" in my head. It's time to really buckle down in figuring out how to go about the novel that will only be referred to as EU in these pages until it is complete.

What I said last night on Downtown about how it hurts me when my journey is done with my characters--our journey--is part of the motivation for doing EU. I had the two principle characters, and I knew they had an amazing story together, and even before our journey formally began, I loved them so much and I knew I had to have more time with them. I create a story on a Monday, and by Tuesday, or a Wednesday--I'm talking the longer ones--it's time to say goodbye to those characters. I feel a great loss, because they are so real. I know I can turn back to them, but it's not the same as when we are together in our time. Not as the artist. Not as this artist. I believe it's the same each time for a reader of those works. But for me, it's different. Also, I don't like to move backwards. When I come up the stairs of the building after running stairs, I bend down before I get to my door to untie my shoes, so that I am not fiddling around in front of my place. I untie as I move because I will not waste a second in not moving. I put a foot two stairs in front of the one I'm standing on. Your natural inclination after you untie the knot is to pull that foot backwards and realign your balance as you start moving again. I won't do this. I won't let that foot go backwards. I tell myself, "You will only move forward, in everything." That's how ingrained this is in me.

With all of that happening and to do, today is one of those rare days when I don't feel intense pressure to get something done in short order. There was the pressure of the last three books, for instance, and too much cut too close, because I was struggling with so much.

Today I came across a site that had quotes from me about writing. I was surprised to see this, given how everything stands at the moment. They were quotes from this journal that someone must have found and put up. I read them and I was struck by their power and the truth they contained. If someone else said or wrote them, and I saw them at a certain time in my life, they would have changed my life.

Came up with an idea for a good Cecil Taylor piece next year, looking at his Paris live recordings from 1962.

I have not been feeling well at night. Achy, my heart feels fast, and feverish, plus a significant headache. So I drink a lot of water and swallow some Vitamin C pills. I don't know what it is like to rest, or to have rested well and comfortably.

I heard someone give an interview about hockey yesterday. They make their living talking about hockey and they were on another show. They were not awful. They were not good. They really had nothing. No insight, no energy, no humor, no way with words, no panache, no edge. It was like talking to a buddy who maybe does a little tiny bit extra with his fandom and reads an article in The Athletic, which I think is a garbage publication. Saw an Athletic writer post on Twitter the other day that "so and so literally dominated." Did he now, wordsmith? What's that look like? But this person is paid to do this for their live's work. Why? It is obviously not ability. But that's how it always is. Ability is irrelevant, but what might be worse is that ability is becoming harder and harder to recognize, because we are making it obsolete by spending so much time looking at other things, and trying to convince ourselves that they are things they are not. If you just stare at puke green all day, every day, it becomes harder to recognize another color. Or think well of another color.

Then you have people who might possess ability shedding that ability by not working on developing it so that they can instead put forward puke green and get what that will give them. What will it give them? A limited life in which their achievements are not real achievements and they have never created anything of value for humanity, which they will know and be not be able to avoid knowing. It's like in publishing. If you write a bad book, a mediocre book, and you went to the right school and you are the right gender and color and you have the right agent and you have blurbs from the right frauds, it can win awards and get five stars and blah blah blah. But then you have to trick yourself, which you'll never be wholly successful in, no matter how mentally ill, delusional, or desperate you are. And the utility of what you've done is nonexistent. Your book is not going to last forever, it's not going to be read in 200 years, it's not going to be read in seven months, it's not even read right now as it gets praised and awarded. No one actually cares about it or feels a single thing about it. It's not going to impact anyone's life, at any time, at all. It's "worth" what you're paid and those lies that people are saying to you about it, which more often than not are a form of sexism and racism, and those are also people who are stupid who treat you like you are stupid by pandering to you as they pander to each other. You are living a lie. Your insecurity will be extreme, and your insecurity and jealousy for someone who is not the fraud you are will be, sadly, the closest you come to having real passion for anything in your life, and it will be a pathetic passion at that. You have to live with shame, guilt, and the knowledge that you truly suck at this thing you wish you had some actual real, undeniable aptitude for, and it's so easy for someone who doesn't suck in the ways you suck to come along at any point--or a person with integrity, or a passing interested in the truth--and expose you for what you really are. It's not hard. It's obvious.

But if you write a masterpiece of a book, you put a target on your back. Because you wouldn't have been in that system. People who are like that, and in that system, don't write masterpieces. You also court envy, hate. You make people who want to be even just a fraction of what you are so insecure. They are haunted by your talent. They are haunted by your creation. They are haunted by the knowledge that they could never do it. They want to. Or think they want to. But they also have no idea what purpose is, what effort is, how hard it is to be master talent, let alone to master genius. Genius is something you master. You're given powers that are beyond this world. They are overwhelming. And you have to marshal them. That takes every second of every day for a long, long, long time. When you have the powers under your control, then everything is easy. But no one understands this about true genius, because so few people have ever been one, and the people who are not rarely try to understand, even conceptually. And no one tries to explain what it is like. I do. It's another reason why I need to get back to my novel The Freeze Tag Sessions, which is about a genius piano prodigy who does not want to be a genius. Anyway, I listened to all of this person's radio interview. It was a struggle for them to fill a short segment. A guest like that brings down the entire thing, because he gives you nothing to work with. You can have a great host, but what it becomes is that host feeding that person questions, and it will sound that way, through no fault of the host's. It's not organic and there isn't flow. Because that guest can't keep up their side of flow, you could say. They are two two-dimensional, too flat, too vanilla. They're not working with anything.

One issue you have is that this is just about everyone. And the jobs must be filled. If we make talent a requirement, or a factor at all, you're not going to have anyone in these jobs. But at the same time, you have the most talented person, in every area, left out, shunned, and that is the single biggest problem, because that person could do more than all of these other people combined. Mediocrity pervades such that there is not at present a space for the person possessing ability; and the greater that ability is, the greater the threat, because it seems to be all the greater a rebellion, a rebuke, an idealogical destruction, of that system, those lives, those lies. It's a blowtorch on the size and scope of a world.

The better someone is at writing--or making art--the greater the chance that you will be surprised with and by each new thing they do. What is. How it is new. How it is unlike anything they or anyone has done. You will not be surprised that they invent, that there is yet another new thing. But you will be surprised by what it is. If you are able to do this, there is no limit to the number of lives you can reach, or the money that can be made. Because each time you do something, there is that expectation: "What has he come up with now? What is this huge new thing I am about to experience that can blow my mind?" The more a person can do that, the more lives they can reach, the more money can be made. There is no one in the publishing world right now who understands this, or thinks in these terms, or could think in these terms without great struggle and effort, because all they deal with--and all they know--are people unlike this person I am describing. People who are the opposite of this person. Thus, there is no vision. There is no thinking beyond a circumscribed world--which is a dysfunctional subculture--where the blinders are never more than a centimeter apart, squeezing the head of the horse in a vise such such that the brains leak out its ears.


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