Need to pick up the pace, get more money coming in, make a big book push, attack on here. Expose. I made a decision to hitch my wagon, a wagon that can traverse this earth, go anywhere, reach anyone, to the truth. My prison is not a result of my conduct, even if, after ten years of abuse, theft, neglect, I finally said, on occasion, "screw you." That is their takeaway. These are the most sensitive people, the most insecure, the most ego-driven, and they can do anything to you, for years, no matter how repugnant, they can get what they get through the most odious channels--I can tell you how anyone has anything anywhere, just about; it's not their work; but I can always give you the backstory--and if finally you say "enough," it's like you've abducted their first born and set their home on fire. They will tell everyone they know that you are violent, that you abused them. With me, people did what they did, for five, ten, twenty years, before I ever said anything, and then, sometimes, after two decades, I said what was going on. The prison was long in place before then, and it was erected because of what I can do. How well I do it. How far-ranging it is. How much there is of it. How effortless it seems.
I used to go and meet with these people. I watched for decades as they hooked up people like them. You see examples of their work on here. You will see more. There is no talent there. There's no market there, either a preexisting one, or a market that might be created. Elvis created a market. No one here is going to be able to do that. There's no ability, and we have to pretend that we all have the same amount of talent, and writing is hard, let's stick together. Everything is super awesome when you're part of a team. Bollocks. Let's compete. Let's put our respective amounts of ability against each other, let the best person win. I can go all day and all night like that, up and down the court, running anyone into the ground. And I like that. I like meritocracies. I like having more ability and I like having worked harder than anyone, as if I was born with no ability, let alone the most. That's how I am. That's not how these people are. Like attracts like. They are so loyal to each other, based off of nothing. An endorsement that one of their gods gave one of them twelve years ago.
Note the Wells Tower person in the recent post. Why are they so loyal to this has-been writer who never really was, who did a single bad book a dozen years in the past? Which was hyped by 2000 people in the gated community that is publishing, and was nothing else, could be nothing else, because it had nothing else to it. There were no legs. It was all a contrivance. It wasn't real. It wasn't real art, it wasn't real entertainment, the last thing it was was a blend of both.
You know when you go to the Starbucks and they have that food in the display case that is for show and not for eating? That's what almost all of this is. It's a wooden board, painted as a storefront, and you walk around the back, and it's just exposed, unadorned wood, half an inch deep.
You loved those nine bad stories that much? The toxic masculinity, all of that rah-rah chest-thumping that's an obvious projection? What did you think about his female characters? Why do you celebrate his complete lack of productivity, and a complete lack of productivity after everything was just handed to him? Is it because you're not productive, and it makes you feel better? But he's so creative, going back fifteen years, because instead of saying that someone waved a pen in the air, they "wanded" it? Cheap, lame, contrived MFA program move. Always the case.
The defense is not mounted because such a person is in thrall to quality. It's loyalty, brainwashed loyalty, to this system, the gods of it. What makes a god? The right person saying the right thing about that person. An award no one has heard of. It's comical how tiny all of this is, how small the stakes are, but it also deadly, too, for what it deprives people of, society of, culture of, and this is what remains of the publishing world. Unpopular kids who want to sit at the popular table, and they've built it up in their heads, as eternal truth, that that table matters. Are there exceptions here and good people? Yes. But very few people act on their own. That's a truism of life, it's more so in this sector of it. It's a cliche, but it takes a village. There are people in this business who like me, who will be behind me later, should there be occasion, who will be happy if and when I get to where I am going, and not just for me, or not maybe even primarily for me; for reasons bigger than me. Things I represent. And then the work. Which will always be bigger than me, infinitely so.
The world has completely turned its back on that table, and all of the other tables. It doesn't even know it exists. That table, though, presides over this island kingdom, which isn't on a map at this point. That's why the dysfunction and incest can rage, unchecked. Everyone else, all the table folk, are supposed to act like they are in this together, band of brothers and sisters and whatever anyone else might be, but, oh yes, men are bad, white men are very bad, talent is bad, productivity is bad, genius is bad, but if you are mediocre, if you grease the palm, if you are a sycophant, if you have no expertise, if you write very little but talk about writing a lot, if you go to artist colonies, if you talk about your community and how tight it is and how hard writing is and how you are a lyrical essay writer--and God knows what that even means--and your fingers are super duper crossed that you might receive a form rejection note from Idaho Review, and that's part of the joy of this great joy we all share of writing, the thrill of sending your work out to experts who truly know, and what a great process, please love me, enable me, encourage me...well, then you are are all set to be liked here--in a shallow, meaningless, fake way--and achieve absolutely nothing in this life with your work.
Naturally, those people are going to hate me when I say this, because it is the truth. The truth they cannot have exist. Because of its implications. For them. But, they already hated me before that. They hated me because of the work, the range, the amount of it, the achievements, which were not given, which were not granted, which were ripped from hands closed with locks and chains over them. So, I elected to go with the truth, having exhausted every single other means and method I could think of.
Of course, if your work was work that could matter, you would never be acting like that in the first place, pounding down the Kool-Aid. This form of thinking is one they grope towards for security and comfort, and they barely keep it together on best days, with no actual real adversity, let alone what I face. And if someone says something true, then the tiny touch of the finger, on shoulder, becomes an axe to the midsection, a bullet to the thigh, a mirror in front of the face, the mirror being by far the worst thing. Ironically, the chief, central quality, of all great works of writing, is that, in some form or other, they hold up the mirror. These people do not like great writing. It costs them too dearly, and they can't adjust. Maybe they could in time, with practice. Maybe that would not even take a long time. But when all they know is the mirror with the cloth draped over it, and onto the cloth anything can be projected, nothing need be real--it mustn't be real--then they, too, become locked in a prison, though theirs is a very different prison from mine.
The cardinal rule is this: enable the system. Say no truths against it. Which, I suppose, someone might advise me to do (as I did, for all of my twenties, and almost all of my thirties; I kissed the asses, because I would have done anything for my work; but I still was what I was as an artist; and that was the problem), if the system was not rigged against me, when the fiction in Harper's worsened my situation, or the NPR appearance, or the WSJ op-ed, you name it. I have a friend who says, "Look, it'd be great if you were making millions for the reasons you should be making millions here, and you could plug and play into what already exists. We should be having joyous talks every day about your latest masterpiece, not both of us being upset because you did another, and now all of this bullshit will surround it, make it a victim of this bullshit, which is worse than criminal, but that's obviously not how it is. You're here to do something completely new, not fit in a mold, you're here to make a new way, to build something that hasn't existed, and that's how you're going to get what you're going to get."
I fear I am not so bullish.
Then again, I have been beaten down with discrimination and abuse for nearly a quarter of a century now, though all of that is exponentially worse in the last seven years, when I kicked it up several more levels in terms of achievement and quality, and then all the more so in the last two years. I don't really ever feel the rays of hope upon me, anymore. I don't know if the parts of me that might have been able to feel those rays are frozen through at this juncture, the blood is ice, the skin like a piece of ground that breaks when you step upon it.
When I started thinking about this blog, doing it, one must understand that I thought about creating this journal--which launched in June 2018--for five or six years. I thought about it hard, often. And eventually, I just had no choice. I was going to die in anonymity and poverty if I ever expected that a time might come when they'd let me through because of my talent, my work, what I was doing, saying, achieving.
I could write 1000 masterpieces, each in a different voice, style, as if there is no way they could have been written by less than 1000 unique artists, and it wasn't going to matter, I could not bank on one of those pieces, or six of them, or a book, or four books, being the magic piece, the magic book. I wrote all of those works, and more, just as I have described them. It was a trillion to one shot it was going to matter, given this class system. Given this system. Given what I am. I couldn't rule out that it might matter, with some of them, one of them, because I never knew, I still don't, what might unlock the gates of hell; so I had to keep trying with them. But I also had to do something else. I had to start saying the truth about how all of this works.
Be buried or fight. It was all that was left to me. I had achieved everything, just about, one could achieve, in terms of publication record, and no one, of course, could have done all of it. It's not humanly possible. You can't be the expert on such diverse subjects, you can't write the fiction across those styles, you can't do that much of any of it, you can't do 1/567th of it, you can't sound that way on the radio discussing what you discuss, across those spectra, you can't be that gutting, that funny, the whole big mix. You can't write a blog like this one. You can't write these 400 posts of a unique journal, in the same amount of time you composed fifty-six works of short fiction--this being sixteen months--and that was but a sliver of your output. Look at the fiction I've published since Harper's. Notice anything? That's the demarcation point, when they totally shut me down. Because of what I had done. I didn't get worse. I got better. A lot better. Not that you can tell in the final product, but what happens in me, the ease with which I am able to create, I got a lot better. I'm a lot better now than i was in June, for God's sake.
I know that if these people had a choice, if they could get way with it, they'd sign my death notice. If they could then damn my soul to hell, they'd do that, too. That's how deep the hate goes. So, what do you do? I hoped that through whatever set of circumstances, or a flashpoint, I would get my chance, I'd become bigger than them and their system. But what has always been the problem is the work. They hate talent and genius. They hate people not like them. It's a sliding scale, and I cannot be more unlike these people. Read a single work I write. Listen to a single radio segment. Spend two hours on this website looking around. Go to any other writer's website after, see how little they do, note the prose, note what they know and don't know, note how they are often little different from your uncle spouting off at a cookout or someone you overhear in line at the Dunkin' Donuts, only they're more entitled. Many of them will have, in terms of word count, more in the blurbs people gave them, than they ever actually wrote themselves. Ask yourself what could it do, what's it for, is it art, is it entertainment, who could get anything from it, truly? Look up the credentials of the people with the awards, the plum jobs, the gushing reviews, the nominations, anthologies, look them up and compare, look at the total absence of any of that here; look at their work and compare. You cannot compare. This is not hearsay, it's not speculation. The body of work, the quality of the body, makes it fact. Makes it more than fact. Makes it truth. I am what I am. Refute it if you like. Try. Look at the work, and try to refute it. I shouldn't have to be saying this. But I do.
Comparison is not possible in the sense of, "This one has four corners and this one has five, the first one is orange, the second is purple." Swamps to supernovas. They know, I know, third parties know, the third parties who do see it. But it is seen without fanfare. People heard the Beatles on the radio in the States in late 1963. They heard "She Loves You," "I Want to Hold Your Hand." They didn't do anything. They didn't even remember the name of the band. It took that massive publicity campaign, in February 1964, for those same people to remember the name of the band and buy absolutely anything they put out and love it. But a bunch of them had actually heard those songs. That's the difference. Backing. Something needs to underline your name when it appears, or it's a mere combination of letters. I have another friend who tells me that there have probably been millions of people who have loved my work, but they're not going to do anything. They experience it, that's it. They're not writing down my name, looking me up, buying books. Now, if I had the underlined name, or if they already knew the name, yeah, it'd be atomic what would happen. But I have been deprived of that.
So I made a decision. To hitch the wagon to truth. In a world that seems to hate truth. The publishing world certainly hates it. George Orwell had some remark about how the more truth one conveys, the more hated a person will be. And that was then. And this is the post-cultural, post-art, post-reality world of now. I hope I made the right decision. Sometimes I think that's irrelevant. There was no other decision to have made. Everything else had been tried. The decision cannot be wrong in that sense. But the biggest fear is that there was no decision, ever, that could have helped, I was just going to live a life in hell, then die, that would a mercy, and hopefully go somewhere else better then. In which case, my life is an extended death sentence. As I get better, and better, and better, at what I do.
A third friend says that this means the stage is set for me, for what I am here to do. What I have it in me to do, what this enormous, already-existing body of work will do when it is unleashed. They think this is the stuff of millennia. Not flavor of the month, not player of the year, not generational. And they're confident. All of these people are confident. I wonder if their concern for me, the idea that they need this to be true, makes them think this way, makes it easier to sleep at night, maybe doesn't make them feel any better for me right now, but gives them something where they can tell themselves it will have been worth it. Not a lot of people care about me, so it's not like I'm talking thirty people here. People have different degrees of involvement, knowledge, which is another reason I started this journal.
I didn't do it idly, or petulantly. I had so many reasons, and in there, too, was that I also knew it would be a unique work of art. And maybe that one, at last, that stopped all of the others from just being more works of art that get piled atop my pile to languish there. I had to try this, too, you see.