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"What ya doin'? You've all gone mad"

Saturday 3/14/20

I saw a post from a writer on Facebook saying how her third novel is about a virus and she's been researching it for years and interviewing medical staff and scientists and would anyone want to read it now? She was despairing. I went to her site--she's awful. Which raises a number of questions. You're just awful at writing, but you spend years and years and years researching something? Is it that hard? Because invariably when I look at the works by people who say this, they're still rolling out their cliches, describing the sky for no apparent reason, doing the wooden dialogue thing. Where is the research going?


I'll tell you where: nowhere. They do it to fill up the time. They learn nothing, they already knew nothing, and it's part of how rich people tell themselves they are writers. Fills up the time. As for her question about would the world want this now...baffling to me. Because a pandemic happened, people wouldn't want a pandemic-related work? That's insane. I am racing right now to not only compose the short story I mentioned--"Change of Gauge"--but also another that came to me involving a pandemic. How should that go? The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper's, Esquire, get wise, wise up, and two of the four stick in the two stories, and you just nail the relevance, you nail the timeliness, but you're also giving people works of art--and of clarity--that cause them to look at something in a way that we're all reading about that no one has yet looked at it, which is both topical and timeless. Now, as I have said with the analogy of the drunks, the lobotomized people, and the raccoon of the crossing route, getting publishing people to see this, the otherwise obvious value, the opportunity to take something bad and create something of invaluable reach, is another matter entirely, even without the blackballing and campaign of hate and suppression. But you stick that bad boy in The New Yorker in April or May, and everyone says, "Holy shit, how did they do this? How did they have this masterpiece of a story on this subject so quick?" I remember Roddy Doyle--shitty writer--had a story in The New Yorker after 9/11. It wasn't about 9/11. But someone on a plane saw some dust from blown-up buildings in the air or something. It was just this sidenote, afterthought detail so he could get the kind of fake ass credit these people live for. And people were like, "Ooooooh, he's so magical, how could he do this so fast, wow, amazing." He's an idiot. He's not magical. But he is right, "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" by the Byrds is a great song.


The Monument was closed today, thus ending my streak of climbing at least five straight times at sixteen days in a row. I walked three miles and ran three. I was reading Wodehouse--who is funny and skilled; you could teach Wodehouse and Meatheads Say the Realest Things in the same humor and literature class--at the Starbucks today and I was washing my hands in the bathroom when I saw the hair sticking out the back of my neck was pretty mangy, so I went in just before the barbershop closed to get scalped. When I came back, Emma was outside with a gaggle of friends. So much for social distancing. She had her back to me so I just passed and lightly touched her back and said "what's up?" and I heard one of them say, "Is that him? That's so cool," though I have no idea what she has said to anyone. I don't see her, as I have said. That woman I had been talking to--she's gone now, which is fine--has opined that she's probably a kid with mental health issues who behaves a certain way and then hopes someone else will just forgive, forget, move on, while adding that it was right for me to hold her accountable.


I do think she does this, especially with me, because I'm an adult, the person with the power, not one of her peers. They wouldn't stand for it, as she must know on some level. But nor do I, which is why our friendship is in another morass. When you treat someone a certain way, you can ultimately rob them of the choice to be your friend or have them in your life. My concern with Emma is when she's thirty. I don't want her to be alone, self-medicating, a broken person. The women I personally have been with in my life, are much smarter than other people, but they've also all been deeply mentally ill. Not a lot of people can be smarter than other people and not be roiled by internal issues. My issues are all external. I am not, for instance, depressed, though I want to die. On the inside, I know myself intimately, I know reality intimately. My problems are all outside of me; many stem from the toxicity of a system of discrimination and classism. Take that away, unclog my path, I will be the happiest person ever. A depressed person would not. Because that is internal, it stays. Yesterday I saw that Monday will be the last day for Boston public schools, and even though we are in this morass and I don't see how we get out of it without culpability and change, I still do care, and it is a weakness of mine to be too nice. It's how many people have taken advantage of me, and how many more take me for granted; that, couple with my genius and strength. They just assume I'll be okay, and they behave towards me with less kindness and consideration than they would with anyone else. I think I have said before that if I text the cover of my next book to twenty people, maybe one, at max, will say a freaking word back to me. People might say they read this blog, but they don't say "read your book, loved it." Doesn't happen. Like it's punishment to read my books and my formal work, when the reality is, I am giving you the best art and the best entertainment--and so much more--you'll ever have in your life. You're the one making out, not I. And certainly not I right now. Why you would read these pages and not Anglerfish or Buried on the Beaches makes no sense and is counter-intuitive. But this is what I texted her:


C: On Monday, make sure you understand what your teachers want you to do over this period which is going to extend until at least the end of April. If they are not assigning anything or running the classes online, you really need to find something. You can't just cut off learning at your age. If you don't have anything, I can put something together for you that will not be a burden and actually help you. Also, some of your friends may be dependent on the school for breakfast and lunch. See if you have any friends you can help out over this interlude. And lastly, you might want to think about FaceTiming with your grandfather if you are still not visiting him. He wants to see you even if you are not there in the flesh.


Again, remember that I am the most hated person in publishing, a bad person, etc. What a monster I am, with my character and my talent and my kindness and my expertise and my productivity and work ethic. Monster.


I have an idea for the back cover of Meatheads which I'll formally execute in the next day or so. Have also come up with a batch of excellent new op-ed ideas, so will set about turning some of that into published works.


Have a productive week. Compose more than ever. Go hard, all out, for one week. Be brave. Stop being so weak, you are stronger than this. Stop not facing things. If you have to do something unpleasant and stress-inducing--or many things like that--do it and them. Expose who you need to expose. If they are going to treat you like this, if they are going to discriminate, if they are going to behave as corruptly as they do, and you have all of the info, and we all know no one can argue against the quality of the work, the track record, the record of publication, then expose them until they stop behaving that way. What they are doing is not defensible, which is an advantage you have, as hellish and unlivable as this is right now. Use that, coupled with the matchless quality and range of your own work, as a fulcrum.


I have ideas for a coronavirus op-ed which is completely different, two baseball ones, two Easter ones. Among others, but timeline-wise, those are the next ones up to try and get out there in good venues. And I still need to do this F. Scott Fitzgerald post-liberal arts one, which I should have already done but I have not been functioning and facing, something I must rectify. I came up with the start of an idea today, too, for the cover of If You [ ]. But that will take firmer shape as I fix the stories and proof the overall manuscript. Sent out a very nice idea for an Easter piece on Friday about Jame Agee's The Morning Watch. Insane the amount of shit I know. It makes me very sad, very fearful, in a world where knowledge, it seems, is treated as something obsolete, is obsolete, undesireable and irrelevant. But maybe that is part of the reason why I am here. If there is a God and he tests people throughout the ages, I think Job has nothing on me. I think Job would have renounced some time ago. But I keep hanging in. I keep trying to get where I am going, because I believe, somewhere in me, still, that more depends upon that than anything ever has. Allowing for what can occur if and when I get there.


The interesting thing about Emma is and why I still try to help--well, I also care, obviously--is that people bore me so quickly. You can wear me out with boredom so quickly. Doesn't take three years for the boring monster to rear its head. I am usually bored with whomever right away. It's not my fault. To a degree, it's not theirs. And everyone I've ever known in my life--I don't mean from afar--has bored me. Except this one person. Maybe part of that had to do with a connection, maybe part to do with need--I recognized I could help her more than others could--and also rapport. But I did give her some more rope on account that she is the one person who has not bored me.


I am not saying I'd make it, but you could make the argument that Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" is the greatest single in rock and roll history. I have been thinking about the song a lot. No one else would have sang it that way--with the falsetto parts. The words he chooses to falsetto-ify, if you will. Anyway, it's up there. The best single ever is "She Loves You" followed by "Fools Gold." Don't believe me about the latter, do you? Learn to listen, brothers and sisters. This shit, by these people, is ultimately my competition. It's not talentless drones out of Iowa. Fuck the pyrite, bitches. Gold all the way.