Hello friends and buttholes, I’m back to writing this blog on a (semi?) regular basis. I got a text from Jay Springett that said he missed my blog, and that’s really all the encouragement I need. Mazlow’s Hierarchy and the base is a Jay co-sign.
I don’t remember the last time I blogged and I refuse to look it up. It’s felt like a while. I’ve been doing my best to keep my distance from social media in general but enacting a “10 days on, 10 days off” policy on Twitter, and letting Instagram regulate itself. On IG, I see memes and pictures that I actually like, so I get satisfied quicker, and can log off sooner. Twitter maintains the absolute perfect balance of funny shit and “oh no people are fucking idiots we are all doomed” to keep you permanently scrolling. Bad news.
In the time I’ve been gone, I read Total Chaos by Jean-Claude Izzo, The Black Notebooks Ponderings Vol. 2-6 by Heidegger, a lot of angelicism01’s posts, and this chapter from Paul de Man’s The Rhetoric of Romanticism.
So I will have thoughts about all of these things in the coming posts. The trick being, of course, to provide a slow drip, rather than “blowing my load” all at once.
I’ve been finishing up drafts to a bunch of little books that will see release before the end of the year (some of them, anyway). Hopefully this goes better than my failed God$ Fare No Better experiment, but I have a clear goal in mind with what I want to achieve with these books, and so I’m putting blinders on and moving forward with it no matter what.
What went wrong with God$? Nobody read it. Which I guess makes sense. The serialized novel is a tough sell, especially when there’s no proof it will continue (which it didn’t). But it’s also hard to write something to only 28 subscribers. This blog has almost 2,000! I’m a little spoiled. It’s hard to go back and start all over again.
Also, I think people want books from me. Not experiments, not half-measures, but actual novellas that they can read in a couple of sittings, with characters that go through arcs and plots that develop and surprise. So that’s what I’m doing.
The literary world is a black hole from which there is almost no escape. Its influence on writers is enormous, on readers not so much. Last time I was on Twitter, I saw writers complaining about getting rejection letters, or being ignored by major presses. Why put yourself through this? What is this urge for validation? I’m pretending like I don’t understand it. But I do. I know exactly what that urge for validation is. Let me tell you: it is a waste of all of our time. In recent weeks I’ve been given information by some insiders (like real insiders), and the thing that no one wants to talk about is that outside of books about how Trump lost the election and biographies of Justin Bieber and some fantasy/scifi/romance books, major publishing is still in its inexorable slide toward irrelevance. Big Five lit books all look the same, contain plots without a single hook, and largely exist to make their publishers feel like good people, a tough thing to square when you’re bourgeoise middle managers living off your parents’ money (no problem with the money, it’s the middle manager part that gets me). Alternatively, there are independent authors out there writing the most depraved Bigfoot romances you can imagine, zombie books with R. Crumb covers, and indie sci-fi autists who are raking it in producing fun pulp work at an absolutely insane clip. People do read. They just don’t read anything the B5 is putting out. I’ve thought this for the past decade, but hitching your wagon to the nebulous concept of getting “a deal” is great and has worked for some people I know (Rob Hart, Stephen Graham Jones, Adam Cesare, Jeremy Robert Johnson)…but that’s it. And I know a lot of authors. I think it’s important to do a little math in your head, and a little soul-searching, and figure out if that particular juice is worth the squeeze. It’s not, for me, because this particular caste of people don’t like me very much. It’s mutual!
So we create and we release. We keep it fucking moving. In the meantime, I edit books. I’m getting a bit tired of that, but I continue to do it because to be fair, the quality of books that I’m editing has gone way up in the past year, meaning I’m not schlepping through complete messes. I’m able to make good books better, which is rewarding and challenging.
The goal is to write and release to the point that that can be my major source of income. I’m not naive enough to think that it would be easy in the slightest. I have a grip on the percentage chance I have in succeeding. A lot of things will have to improve on my end: my discipline, production schedule, and my perfectionism will all require overhauls and reimaginings. And yet, I have to try, if only to prove to myself that I really tried it. If I have 200 releases on Amazon in say twenty years or so, and I’m still not a professional full-time writer, then I will know that I suck. But that’s the big gamble you have to take. If anything, you have to risk wasting your life on something. It’s what makes meaning!
Anyhow, for now I’ll leave it at that. I hope you are out there making shit, and remember: a solid 150 pages is all you need. Steal a plot from a favorite movie. The novella is a playground for you to mess with language and surprise the reader, to make them laugh or make them sad or horny. The structure of the novel can be lifted wholesale. No reinvention of the wheel, at least not every time.