top of page

You need to believe in something so hard

Wednesday 12/14/22

The simplest definition of intelligence: Insight into what things really are.

This will sound simple but it is not simple if one really considers it. I was in third grade when I had an epiphany about writing. I realized that you could write about anything. I don't mean in terms of subject matter, though that's also true. I was writing fiction at the time and I still think about this every day as I write fiction. You can write anything. Think about that. Any kind of story is permissible. You can go anywhere. Everything there is or that you can invent is open to you.

That was and remains mind-blowing to me.

And yet, everyone in publishing who writes fiction, unified in their absence of any ability, writes the same thing each time out, and they so seldom write anything at all.

Once you see one work by any other fiction writer in this world right now, you don't need to see a single other, because you know exactly how it will be if you read with any awareness. It will be more of the same. It will never be new and different. It will be closely tethered to who they are, which is to say, it will often come from their life and experiences, which are themselves almost always limited and, additionally, without variation from one of these people to the next. They all take the same boring privileged path.

Further: It is impossible to teach the gift of imagination.

But what largess awaits constantly, in theory: You can write about anything. You can do any form of story. There is as much for you to invent on every single day of your life as there is on any other if you live to be 100.

I thought about that often in third grade when I realized this, and I'm perpetually cognizant of it now, as I embody this truth. I am this truth.

I wrote an op-ed on Roberto Clemente, who died on the last day of 1972, trying to bring much needed relief items to victims of an earthquake in Nicaragua. It is good.

I've done more work on "Net Drive," which was at a length of 1800 words last year upon revising it, which means it was likely around 1500 words when I first wrote it in 2019, but I haven't checked. This third version is 3000 words. I'm not finished going through it.

Yesterday I sat down and invented a story on the spot called "Acorn Man" whose plot was partially described in that series of texts. That was done by 9:15 yesterday morning, in addition to what had been written and posted on here. I worked on the story some more throughout the day, and again this morning. It's 3500 words now, and as strong as anything I've ever composed. It'll be in Become Your Own Super Hero: Modern Fiction in Select Simple Stories. What a wink that title takes at you.

Here is last night's radio interview I gave. The part about the radical nature of kindness stood out to me. Other topics were Christmas episodes of the radio series Night Beat and Father Knows Best; what I call a Christmas episode of Suspense, though that's not when it aired, with Ages Moorehead in an adaptation of Dickens' "The Signal-Man"; Dean Martin's A Winter Romance album, which led into talk about Howard Hawks' Rio Bravo from the same year; and Frank Cowper's 1859 ghost story, "Christmas Eve on a Haunted Hulk."

I went back through the 2700 word piece about the Beatles' cover of Arthur Alexander's "Where Have You Been (All My Life)," despite thinking I wouldn't. I changed a few very small things. "Wanted" became "desired." Some words were taken out. Some other words were added for maximum clarity. I then inserted the piece into Just Like Them: A Piece by Piece Guide to Becoming the Ultimate Thinking Person's Beatles Fan, which itself will need many vigorous goings-over and cleaning and smoothing up. That's more cosmetic: the totality of the essence and thrust and quality is in place and a publisher who is not awful at their job should be able to see it for what is, and say, "right, that's awesome, fix it up, send it back again, and we'll get this out there. Exciting." This piece was just too good to leave out, I believed. The book is 76,000 words. But yeah, it definitely needs straightening up.

Regarding the music podcast, I am thinking that Trove Time could be a good name. The subheading would be, "Smart talk about cool music for cool people, with hosts Aaron Cohen and Colin Fleming." The shows would be about cool music, as I said, but cool music for those in the know or about to be. I liked the idea with old time radio programs such as The Hermit's Cave that there was this inner sanctum you went to--actually, that was another one--and you got this neat stuff that was tucked away somewhat from plain view. You can bring it out and change that, which I guess was the modus operandi of the hermit. Trove Time is also a kind of musical pun. March time. But I don't want one of those stupid puns or someone's lyric.

For the past few days, my breath has been shallow and short, my heart pounding constantly. When I touch my skin I feel my heartbeat jackhammering in each part of me. My arm. It is because, I think, of how this has gone for so long and trying to endure that which no one else could and what would have killed someone else a long time ago. I am in constant terror. I feel total terror all the time.

So what I did on Monday when these symptoms were at their highest point was I went out to the stairs to run them vigorously. You're more likely to have a heart attack in the cold because the blood vessels constrict. No, I was not trying to give myself a heart attack. I was trying to test that I was okay and that was happening with my heart was a result of this torture of this situation. I did 200 push-ups as well. In case I had been taking the stairs too easily, I ran up them hard each time--a full charge, like that guy in Arsenic and Old Lace. Then yesterday I did 100 push-ups and ran 3000 stairs and walked three miles, and today I did another 100 push-ups and ran 3000 more stairs. Again, hard. Churning. I figure if I can do that and be fine then I am fine.

Something occurred to me as I ran the stairs this afternoon, which I'll relay here. The stairs are unpleasant. They're tedious. They are not easy. That is the nature of a workout that involves running stairs. I've worked so hard by the time I get to the stairs. Last week I wrote 60,000 words. What I am doing this week is documented in these pages. It would be so easy not to run those stairs. It's twenty-five degrees. And what I was thinking was that you need to believe in something so much to go out there like that every day--or most every day--and run those stairs, up, and down, and up, and down, and up.

You need to believe in something and what you're doing so hard or you won't be out there taking care of even that side of things so you can fight and create on.

Sound the mantra: Total focus, matchless art, no mercy when we get there.

bottom of page