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Words about words

Sunday 1/19/20

* My mom sent me this card in the mail congratulating me on publishing my first novel (well, a very different kind of novel--the invention of a new form of novel) in 2020 which I was not expecting and was happy to see. The way of things--and there is little variation--in my life is that no one--friends, family, acquaintances, sort of friends--say anything to me about my work, my achievements, some masterpiece I wrote. It's dead silence, or just three or four stock words, on rare, rare occasions, that could as easily apply to a roll of paper towels. Does it hurt me? Yes, a great deal. Does it confuse me? Even more. Does it play into my series of questions beginning with, "How the hell is this happening? Even people awful at writing, and bad people, without a lick of talent, hear things from people," that feeds into my prevailing terror that I am literally cursed? Yes, that too. It was nice to see this.

* Yesterday I went to Starbucks, and who should I see in a corner there reading, but a girl/young woman wearing a nicely colored Polish shawl on her head, so over to this girl/young woman I went, and asked her if she would like anything as she had neither food nor drink, but she barely looked up to say "No thanks" as she was reading pretty hard. This person being, of course, Emma. I got my hot chocolate, sat down beside her. She was reading Ransom Riggs' Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, then informs me that it is her all-time favorite book. And I'm like, hey man, what's going on here? Upon which she tells me that Buried on the Beaches--the one book of mine she has read--does crack the top ten. I said "Maybe try Dark March?" which I know she has a copy of. But then she went on Amazon and ordered a couple more Ransom Riggs books.

* The title of the aforesaid novel--which is about a meathead--may be changing. I worked on it for several hours last night. The new title will use the main part of the original title, and a subtitle that was inspired by the current subtitle, but a lot shorter. Also, I have been thinking much about the cover, and I may have something as a base idea we will work off of. I have not shown it to the publisher yet. I will be proofing my meatheads book this week. The other day I reached out to one of my editors from Rolling Stone--who blurbed Between Cloud and Horizon: A Relationship Casebook in Stories--back when I used to solicit blurbs--and told him about the meatheads book, asking if they could cover it. I wrote for Rolling Stone for a decade. I am not a system person. Coverage everywhere almost automatically goes to system people, with the people providing the coverage not caring about the book, the author, not having read the book, or anything by the author, it's like you just see this symbol--think of it like the Twitter blue checkmark, that says, "System person, must be touted"--and it automatically happens. So an editor can think the world of me, think I'm this genius, like me personally, but the coverage will go to a book they have not read by someone they know nothing about because that is what the industry dictates. I want to avoid that here. With support, my meatheads book--the funniest book ever written--will sell a million copies. It is the only book there could ever be that is perfect if you hate men, or if you are a bro. It is pure unification. It is for absolutely everyone. And that is one hell of a trick to pull off, isn't it?

* There will never be another blurb on a Colin Fleming book going forward. Never again. Not matter what happens, how big I get. That's my policy. I don't believe in blurbs, I don't believe in tonguing people for them, the general insincerity of blurbs disgusts me, and thousands and thousands of people in this industry have tried to end me, to block me, to blacklist me, and there is no way I am ever going to play that particular game. I will be the only person with the sack to have this be their policy, and work so good that it deserves to have this policy, and that is a blurb unto itself and the only blurb I will ever need. I am going to get to a place where I am worlds bigger than blurbs. But no--never again will I do blurbs.

* Last night we were leaving the Starbucks and it was very cold. Emma is such a little kid in some ways, and obviously not in others. For instance, regarding the latter, I told her that I was thinking of pitching an op-ed on mentoring, then explained the idea to her, and she vets these things, processes them, and her take on what is good and how good it is is usually dead on. She doesn't joke in these instances--as she often does--and her face gets serious and studious-looking. "Yes, that is good," she said, nodding. "That would go over well." We get to the crosswalk and she puts her hand through my arm so we can cross the street. And I thought there is so much little kid in her still, for everything else. She also texted my friend John saying "Colin looks a bit fat today."

* I did not look a bit fat. And I climbed the Monument five times, after having not climbed for three days on account of being sick.

* John then did that thing some people do--Norberg does this a bunch as well--where they say, "You know, I need an exercise routine like that, I am going to get one," though this is not actually going to happen. I point out to John that he is kind of a bitch and will likely hurt himself, which launches him into this tirade about how he is strong from doing construction, when we see each other again (we have not seen each other in like fifteen years) we will arm wrestle, etc. Emma pipes in that all of my strength and muscle is in the lower body. This kid. She adds, "What? It's not like you lift." Ugh. It's true. I don't. My workout focus is on my heart and my lungs, but especially my heart--that's my main concern. Cardiovascular. As a result of the nature of my workout, my legs are jacked, as one would imagine. So Emma says, "What do you think you're going to do? Kick him to death?" It can be irksome when I am texting John and Emma hops on and makes it a group text. Though she did call John a pussy.

* Emma refuses to floss, something I am trying to get her to change, but she whines about how it will hurt and it will bleed, and I said it will hardly hurt at all and eventually the bleeding will stop. So last night I text her a link to something about Periodontitis, which is not curable. And I said, "You don't want this." But she does not appear to be budging.

* A word or two of this might change--and I shared it with her last night because I knew it would make her smile and she has a funeral to go to today in Connecticut and I know that is hard for her--but this is the dedication for the meatheads novel that has now come up several times in this entry: "Dedication time, bro. Sup. Emma Antonia Perez: This book is for you because I practiced my meathead voice on you when I was writing it and I love you so much. I hope you like it--maybe it will even manage to crack your top ten (what the hell, dude?)."

* Last night I spoke at length to John about what the hell to do, which is what we normally only talk about, this hell, how to solve it, get out of it, get past these evil people. And I said, look, I have some blogs written, they are doozies, they go up another level, they destroy some of these people, and I told him about Mark Warren. Now, I know Mark Warren is a bad guy. He was an editor at Esquire. He may still be. Don't know, don't care. And this was back in like 2012, 2013, after Molly did what she did, as pure and planned an act of evil as one will find. Judas was a girl scout compared to Molly. Anyone who wants to read about some of that can--it has been covered in various places--and in future there will be my book--memoir--about that time period, about her, about how elaborate her scheme was. What it did to me, what I had to do to keep living, what was taken from me, who I became as a result, as a person, as an artist. And I said something on Facebook at the time. It wasn't nasty, as in "Here is an insult." It was about something in publishing. And it was simply the truth. These are, for instance, bad people. These are the worst people there have ever been. And Mark Warren, in front of everyone on Facebook, goes into virtue signaling mode, saying "The problem could be your anger, it's off-putting, I am looking out for you, this is a small community." Firstly: I exhibit no anger, in the way he meant, and I didn't back then, either. I say the truth. If this were happening to anyone else, they would have a gun on a roof and they'd be mowing people down. I climb, I work, I create, I compose, I fight. The greatest artist of all-time is hated by thousands of people in his industry who want to end him. That's the reality. Both sides of that are the reality. But I consider everything. I consider things years after the fact. Now, I know that Mark Warren is the kind of person who, with eyes on him, will hold a door open for an old woman walking into a store. But with no one to see, no witnesses to praise him? He will drop that door on her head. That's the kind of man he is. But I bring this up to John last night, those comments from all of those years ago, as we are planning. Because I'm saying, "Okay, there's the blog, and it takes some of these people apart. What do I do? Is that what I do? Do I just sit here and die in poverty and anonymity, letting this continue to happen, because they're not going to dispense with the evil, it's going to be more of the same. Or do I attack attack attack. Everyday, take another one of them apart on the blog. They can band together even more, but what's more at this point?" And he says to me, "Yeah, I remember that guy. But tell me this: What would Mark Warren have said if you had fiction in Harper's and these people tried to fuck you more than ever, because of that, because you had motherfucking fiction in Harper's, and that made them hate you even more. What the fuck would he say to do then?" And John has a point. Because Mark Warren is a simple, virtue-signaling, inconsequential man--who also, by the way, lied to me several times about working for him back in the day, and, further, would not respond to work-related emails, but would take the time to do his public virtue-signaling with me on Facebook--who could never imagine that this could be the reality of someone's situation. Bad person: But better than 99% of them. What does that tell you?

* I am so sick of bad writers, looking for justice points, like Stephen King, saying that women and people of color in publishing are being treated unfairly right now, we must fix it. They are being treated unfairly because they are being given lots of money, lots of awards, lots of book deals, solely because of their skin color and gender--not the quality of their work, which like almost everyone's work, is nonexistent. They rule right now, and it has everything to do with the antithesis of equity and merit. If I was a black woman and this had happened to me, with my accomplishments (or, frankly, 1/10,000th of them)--if what had happened to me then is what had happened to me at The Atlantic--as clear-cut a case of hiring discrimination as one will ever see, and which I will document on here, in full, showing the world exactly what Scott Stossel and his cronies did--putting up email after email after email, despite his threats to me to not share the truth on here about him or his magazine--I could sue lots of people and lots of venues for millions of dollars and win those suits.

* Yesterday I wrote the first 2300 words of a new short story, called "Wellness, Check," which is about, among other things, an air conditioner, as witnessed from outside of a building, that is on every day in the winter, perhaps because the Devil lives there. Or for some other reason. It's a kind of mystery, I suppose. But that is just one part of the story.

* Someone remarked to me that they were reading Dark March and The Anglerfish Comedy Troupe, and their additional comments--intended casually--said much, I think, about what readers can sometimes project. The person mentioned to me that they were shuffling back and forth between the two books, which struck me as hugely disorienting, and a much more limited experience than simply reading each book, front to back, straight. It'd be akin to listening to Rubber Soul and Revolver on shuffle mode, so you'd hear "For No One" and then "Drive My Car" would come on. So different than hearing all of Rubber Soul, then all of Revolver. Other writers write story collections, they write novels. I don't really write story collections. I don't like the term, either. It's just stuff collected and made to go together, usually. Dark March and Anglerfish are certainly not story collections in that sense, or any, in my view. They are integrated books. They're not linked-story collections, which seems to me a more ridiculous idea yet. They are worlds. I am giving you a world. The world has sections, strata, spectra, because it is a world. The world is integrated, despite the differences of parts of that world, because that is how worlds function. I create worlds. I create worlds that show parts of this one in ways that are unique to the world--work--that has been created and then experienced. But a lot of people--especially those who write--will come to a book with expectations, often sourced from the kind of book that they write, what they know from other authors, none of whom, ever, have done what I do. Great art rewards you on the largest of your terms when you experience it on its terms.

* It occurs to me that someone could make a very long book of what sound like and would be very famous quotes from this journal. Like the concluding sentence above.

* Someday.

* I will be writing about Francis Wolff's photographs for JazzTimes, the Aaron Hernandez Netflix docu-series for The American Interest. I must do the Wall Street Journal op-ed on weakness over again--which is fine. A lot of pieces are due out in The Smart Set--on Ambrose Bierce, my night terrors, the computer game King's Quest. I also offered them pieces on Joan Harrison and Freddie Hubbard which I must move. I have a new essay (which I know about because a check came) in New Haven Review called "A Carrot for Dennis," which is about how I changed my life--and held on to life--by taking the train to places up in Cape Ann and literally walking thirty miles on the sides of roads with 50 mph speed limits, across three or four towns--that is also in Glue Gods: Essays (and Tips) for Repairing a Broken Self, a life-saving work--or would be--and life-changing work--would-be--that I have not been able to place because of the blackballing. Even the shittiest, tiniest presses that sell four copies of each of their titles only want the work of their friends, in this anti-business. The title refers to cephalophores--saints who walked carrying their severed heads in their hands; the carrot refers to inducement, both matters which are made plain in the piece. Today or tomorrow I must complete these edits on the essay on The Irishman, which posits it as a sexist work that is nonetheless fellated--but fellated hollowly, to mix metaphors--because of the post-merit, post-art, post-entertainment age we live in, when the work we say we like does not matter--and we are often lying, in fact, when we say we like it--as much as the fact that is it the official thing we should be liking, is trending, is being talked about, etc. I need to proof the meatheads novel, proof the book that Dzanc is putting out, fix this long essay about moving, and finish some short stories and longer projects. On Downtown on Tuesday I will discuss live recordings from 1970--the Stones' Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out, Hendrix's Band of Gypsies (and the new box set of the full sets of that gig), a Zeppelin bootleg called Mudslide from Vancouver, and both a Who FM recording from Paris in January 1970, and Live at Leeds. I have a lot to say about Live at Leeds. I can go through that album--the original--note by note and describe why each note is as special as it is, what is happening, what is so different, etc.

* To the people who are going to hate me more--scream with hatred--because I have the information I do--which you think no one would have--and I document on here why you were hired--complete with quotes from the hiring process--and I detail how you published what you published, what you traded for it, why you published whom you published, for the most loathsome reasons--they were your agent, your partner, your friend of thirty years, someone who paid you--I want you to remember that you brought us here, you put yourself on these pages. I tried everything with you, over years, in most cases--decades in some others--with so many ideas, so many amazing and different works of art. You are going to get even more angry with me, and if it is possible to wish me dead even more, you're going to do that; but you have no one but yourself to blame. What did you expect me to do? Let you end my life and just take it? I have only tried to play ball with you, over and over and over again. This blog becomes more powerful, and more widely seen by the day, for a number of reasons, one being that it says nothing that is not the truth. And everyone who sees this blog knows that. Don't make me put you up on the blog. Treat me as you would treat someone else, as I deserve and, more importantly, as the work so clearly, as everyone knows, deserves.


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