Wednesday, March 25, 2020. I was yammering away yesterday about how I ought to try changing my pen name every month and republish Time Crime with a new title, too, just to see if I can shake something loose and sell a book. Angie had meanwhile been commenting on how the past year has amounted to me discussing nothing but the book ad nauseam. And then she suggested that I use Ed Nauseam for my next pen name. A brilliant idea!
 Ad nauseam: referring to something that has been done or repeated so often that it has become annoying or tiresome.
I’m still working to get my feet under me regarding the posting (blogging) of these journal entries. That is to say, I’m still trying to set myself free of the nagging self-consciousness and anxiety that affects how I write and what I say when I know somebody might snip something out of context and post it on their own site, one that actually gets read, and make me look like a fool or an ass. Which of course I am anyway so fuck it.
But I read Nick Cave’s latest Red Hand Files and it was the first one to disappoint me as being likewise hindered by what I assume is a similar self-consciousness and sense of responsibility on behalf of one’s words. Again, it’s different for Nick because he gets read by young and old alike and who knows who’s going to do something stupid and reference something that you wrote to try to justify it? It happens. A kid tries to blow his brains out and the adults try to reference the lyrics to a Judas Priest song he was listening to (I won’t go into this true story from thirty-five or forty years ago but I’m sure you can google it). Anyway, moderation is inspired by having something at stake. When Nick was young and until who knows when he probably enjoyed the artistic freedom of expression that allowed him to get under people’s skin and call it artistic license. I get it. It is artistic license. You can write or sing or paint anything you want as long as it’s just an idea or a song or a painting and not, say, an actual act of subversion against this or that. Or a murder. You get what I mean. Part of the job of art-craft is to challenge, to subvert, to get all topsy-turvy with anything and everything. On principle. Because our habits, including habitual thinking, makes us stale and boring and, in the worst cases, stupid and ignorant enough to make big mistakes.
So, I cut Nick some slack during this silly blip in history when a fan indeed asks, “What do we do now?” and he feels responsible for a measured, moderated, otherwise careful response versus perhaps a sensational one: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?tab=rm&ogbl#trash/WhctKJVqssMHzLGKtdxSxDJGWbRXTBXtNRfnRsvDdtXPQjBKjHbwrSJtBlWvlXrNNCjkRMq I suppose we don’t need any additional sensationalism. Except that toning things down in favor of “following instructions” is probably exactly the opposite of what Nick usually stands for. Not that he stands for anything, that’s not a fair thing to hang on anyone, artist-craftsman or otherwise. My point being that whenever you check oneself as an artist-craftsman you risk dulling knife. Not that we’re all here to wield sharp knives as our only creative purpose; it’s an analogy that’s intended to express what it is about creative work that has substance. We trim, soften, sand the rough edges, consider the long-range impact of our words and deeds and spontaneity, what may be called the truth of our intuition, come what may, suffers. Within the pop/rock genre, this becomes especially visible – rock and roll has always been fueled by a healthy dose of subversion even if it’s only a group of youngsters who can’t play their instruments recording themselves learning how to play their instruments and calling it rock and roll. Or whatever. I think I’ve beat this idea to death. Nick Cave is an established artist-craftsman who both challenges convention and just does what he wants without regard, thankfully, to challenging convention. Being contrary as an end in itself is never the point when you’re being wholehearted about your work.
This damn blog. I wrote yesterday, lamenting my lack of available cash for the audiobook that nobody is clamoring for, about becoming desperate enough to seek a shared agreement with the narrator, whereby I sign away half my profits. There are no profits right now, I get it, but should there ever be, then for years – I can’t recall how long the shared agreements last – I will be chewing glass that I gave away such a return on my investment. How many times have I read of somebody desperate to “sell” their shit and they sign a contract and give their shit away and damned if it doesn’t sell somebody and here they are handing over half the cash to somebody else. I understand that sometimes that’s the best anyone can do and a narrator in this case would be a business partner and if they sacrifice short term earnings in favor of the potential for greater long term earnings then that’s just standard business investment practice. It’s not bad or evil or appropriating as long as everyone is operating from a position of strength. But as artist-craftsmen we hardly ever are. And if we are then, well, we’re not concerned with having to give away the ownership of our work in favor of getting it out there.
It sucks, that’s all, not being read when you write. TC1 as published ought to be able to pay for its audiobook version or the audiobook version doesn’t get made. It’s how business works. Hell, six months ago I had no interest in audiobooks whether the industry was “booming” or not, my attitude was that I personally don’t like audiobooks so who cares? I was going to make my name as a debut author by way of my novel and my big compromise was the eBook version. Which you couldn’t pay me to read let alone buy. Oh well, neither is selling. So that in pursuing, compromising, moderating myself into considering an audiobook I’m just being desperate; I’m panicking and grasping at straws, keen in my now powerless condition to somehow grasp at some power. Maybe an audiobook would sell? Maybe I ought to just leave no stone unturned? Maybe sales of a audiobook would generate interest and therefore sales in the print and eBook version? Um, no. I doubt it. Being honest with myself, even if I somehow managed to get an audiobook produced (as if Plum Market or anywhere else is going to be hurrying to hire me) it would likely flop also. I’ve no platform. There is the chance, however slight, that simply by way of demand outstripping supply that my book would be noticed and sold and heaven help me liked. Perhaps it would indeed “take off” akin to these fortunate handful of indie authors that sell books straight away in spite of themselves.
You want to produce an audiobook? Earn the money to pay for it. Otherwise take your lumps and consider yourself lucky to have published anything at all. Meanwhile the world-of-action has adjudicated against my little foray, my little effort at individuation as an author. We don’t want it, we’re not interested, go away.
These hard lessons to learn, I long to quit having to learn them. That without a platform a writer is doomed to oblivion. Unless you’re somehow one of the fortunate few with perfect timing, otherwise graced with the perfect meshing of the zeitgeist gears so that you don’t need a platform, you don’t need to market your work, the world has been waiting, they want to throw money at you. It happens. But in statistical terms it doesn’t happen to anybody.
Here I am, then, whacking away at this damn journal for ten years and another healthy chunk of change in the hole with my bullshit dreams. Yeah, an audiobook. Still, I would’ve already initiated production, seeing as I found the perfect narrator. Would a narration reveal all the lousiness of the novel? Perhaps. So that I spent a good portion of yesterday flipping through the book trying to find the 700-word snippet that I could forward for a sample narration. Otherwise they just have the guy read the first 700 words. And I thought, why do I think the first 700 words aren’t good enough to function as the test read? Because they suck? Because somewhere else in the book I write better? The story is better? Things get going? What the fuck? If I myself can’t start at the beginning then how would I expect anyone else to start at the beginning? This is how fucked up a person losing the race tends to get, I suppose. Desperation and doubt destroy one’s confidence. You huck your fucking bullshit manuscript and all the bullshit author copies of your book into the fucking furnace.
It takes so very little. And I’m frankly not getting even that. Maybe Time Crime sucks and I’m blind to it. Context. It means everything. You can place almost anything in the inappropriate context and it will appear to suck, to be comprised of hackneyed dross. Except for The Beatles, perhaps. The exception proves the rule. But everything else? Get it in front of the wrong people, shove it into the wrong place and time, surround it with unsupportive energies, couch it in terms of it being wrong, off, lousy, amateurish, shitty and it somehow such a prophecy fulfills itself: people see it as such. Lousy. Shitty. Crappy. And it is discarded. I’ve done it. I’ve listened to any number of recordings that arrived without a platform, without a supportive context, without a damn review and indifferently scanned the music then tossed it aside as irrelevant. Only to have the thing get traction somewhere else, by some other means and here I’m listening to the thing again but this time with fresh ears, a fresh perspective, a fucking context that empowers the thing for what it is instead of what it isn’t, if that’s all it is, and boom! – I’m on board, I suddenly get it, I’m behind the fucking thing, too. It’s maddening, this mysterious learning curve that some things require. Perhaps most things that aren’t The Beatles. So that literary agents reject your work always with the caveat that, well, somebody else might like it, implying that they can’t tell what’s good or not, that all they’re capable of speculating upon is that they don’t think they can sell it. But then again that they can’t be certain of that, either. So, you know, when your book becomes a million seller in spite of my rejection please don’t send me copies of your next twenty successful novels out of spite and disparage me publicly for having told you to fuck off.
Ugh. Another rant that I’m trying to pass off as a blog. Why in fuck would anyone read this shit? Yikes. Let it go, dude. Be happy with what you have to be happy with. I do not want what I haven’t got. Bullshit I don’t. I desire. I grasp. In full knowledge of the ensuing torture, the personal mythological uncentering such a condition invokes.
At least I’ve been managing my two pages of editing per day. TC2. You know, that sequel, the next book in the series that folks can’t get enough of, that everyone is clamoring for. Burn it. Yet there I am, plunking away. Does it suck? Perhaps. I can’t tell anymore. That’s the thing about stumbling along in the complete absence of professional input: you lose the ability of perspective. Successful folks end up suffering from this lack of honest criticism, of course – you get all the yes men always telling you how great you are. Oh, yeah, you’re great, everything you do is great. And you quit listening to the compliments and seek out the ever-powerful negative review or seek out somebody you think isn’t bullshitting you because they clearly don’t like you and you do whatever they tell you and it sucks. Because all you did was reverse the problem of not being wholehearted and truthful and honest and authentic – fuck all that, you’re not inspired! Inspiration is what it is. And when it’s not around, forget it. The outcome will suck. You’re only hope as an artist-craftsman is inspiration. The tough part is being ready, being prepared for when the must arrives. She spends a lot of time servicing other clients, as Neil Young would put it, and when she shows up in your lap you better be prepared. Or you miss your chance with her. Who cares? Well, I’d propose that one key method of discerning whether or not you’re a professional, besides the technical fact of getting paid or not, is whether you can endure the periods of practice that don’t amount to notably inspired work. The unglamorous workaday work of the artist-craftsman. That the consumer, the potential client, regards as worthless detritus. As all that stuff that isn’t good enough. That isn’t up to snuff. That doesn’t get four or five stars. That doesn’t hit. Fripp never wrote another “21st Century Schizoid Man.” In this sense, he never bettered his first record from 1969. Despite having continued to practice, perform and produce recordings fifty-one years later. How does he soldier on without another hit? It’s all in the DOP. But in a nutshell, it’s holding to one’s practice which I term one’s VAPM as the only reliable handhold in the cosmos.
Hence, this journal entry, this blog post, this practice. My veritelically authentic personal mythology doesn’t necessarily make me money. That’s not what it’s for. One’s VAPM is the source of the experience of being properly alive despite all the distractions, predicaments and disappointments that life otherwise delivers. Immerse yourself in your VAPM and the energy moves and in the proper direction. It’s the only way I can maintain my damn sanity in the face of the world’s indifference. Am I a good enough novelist? Will Time Crime ever take off? Will I get a chance to produce an audiobook version of it? Let it go, edit TC2, post your blog, try to enjoy the day.
DOP1 (2010-11) VINTAGE POST:
21st Century Schizoid Plan
April 27, 2011. Rain, rain, rain – the weather’s been shitty. But we’re getting moved in at 1433. Only a couple of boxes are left to unpack besides the zillion boxes we left unopened in the basement; this house is much too small for most of our shit, so the basement is the only place for it all. It’s quite a change for us; our stuff didn’t even fill our Texas house. By the way, we’ve agreed to rent 3409 to the only folks who’ve been interested. After over a year, we’ve had only one couple show any interest at all – unfucking-believable – and only to rent it (or as the real estate folks like to say, “lease”). It’s a good thing, not a great thing. As I wrote to Ari, it seems our vog for selling 3409 wasn’t realistic – vogs aren’t magic.
I think that’s an interesting aspect to visioning, the aspect of setting the dates and even times in which you want things to take place, to happen for you, and that without those specifics, your vog remains weak – anybody from Canfield to Ari will tell you to make sure to be specific regarding timeline. It empowers the process, but it also sets it up for a failure – if things don’t come to pass within the time frame you’ve specified, then what? Has your vog failed you? Where you wrong about what your heart was telling you? Have you made a mistake to think vogging works that way – is it really just a form of kidding yourself, of fantasy? If you tell yourself that your timeline must have been unrealistic, and you come up with what seem like legitimate reasons to explain the vogging delay so to say, are you simply rationalizing things, “explaining away” the failure of your vog in the same way much of religion “explains away” anything that doesn’t seem to fit with the tenants of the belief? Is vogging bullshit?
I don’t think so. There’s really no mystery to it – it’s an expression of what you want to come to pass, what your heart knows. Adjusting a timeline is a minor tweak if you really believe in the substance of what you’ve written. The vog for the publication of this book has November 1, 2011 as a timeline. I just read it again, tweaked it a little, and removed some of the self-serving stuff that was in there that doesn’t jazz me anymore. It has to jazz you, and this still does. The date I chose also surprised me – I had thought my timeline had already passed and that it must have been unrealistic. But that date meant something to me – it’s something of an one-year anniversary I think of when I started doing queries. So, right now a published dop doesn’t seem like it’s going to come to pass because a) I’m still writing it, b) there was absolutely no interest from book agents, c) it’s almost completely unedited, d) I’m not doing any queries on it and e) soon enough, I figure I’ll be busy as hell with the food cart and unable to really work on book publishing stuff. But looking at that date, it might night be so unrealistic yet. So I’ll leave it. I think you have to give these vogs an honest chance to materialize, and you get better at the timeline thing with practice I would think. One of Ari’s twelve natural laws of business, published in his GTGL Part One, which I’ve quoted before, bears repeating:
[Number] 11. It generally takes a lot longer to make something great happen than people think.
He describes, at least at ZCoB, that it seems to take about two years to reach equilibrium within any significant change, another two years to get good and be in a position to go for greatness, and another one or two years after that to achieve it. I think these estimates are fairly accurate because if I think about my own life, not just this HH biz venture, the timeline seems legitimate. In fact, if I look at some of my many failures – first year in college, many of the multitude of jobs I’ve had, or even my recent 2 ½ year Texas adventure, I’ve got to think that things may have worked out better had I stuck with them longer. But maybe not. Whenever I’ve quit something, it’s been because I’ve sensed a vanishing point. In fact I can’t think of anything that I wished I’d given more time to. Intuition is generally to be trusted I on this point I think. So this is an interesting schism which can be resolved I think by going back to what Ari was really talking about – “making something great happen.”
HH is in sort of a holding pattern as we wait for the cart courtyard to be finished – the concrete still has to be poured and all it seems to do lately is rain, clear up briefly, then rain again, which is holding up the concrete work. I think I’ve allowed myself to become too stressed out about the start-up; I’ve got to transform that negative energy into something positive. I shouldn’t worry about not cutting it in the kitchen, about not being able to handle it, of fucking something up, about making mistakes ordering provisions, about not being able to keep up, or not making good food, or not being able to sell anything. I know I can do this, but it’s going to take some tolerance for fucking up on my part, and lots of learning and humbleness and energy and fun and kick-ass cooking and learning the idiosyncracies of my cart and the court and the kitchen and the biz and the people – gads, just writing about it jazzes me. What the hell else am I on earth to do except this stuff? I know it’s going to happen and I’ll look back on these funky couple of weeks or so as a curiously innocent time. Beginnings get looked at fondly, but only after they’re over. I need to enjoy this stuff and I am, but I’m also anxious to get going, get moving, get cooking and selling, or not selling. Blah, blah, it’ll happen, this waiting and wondering is all part of it. I’ll just try to stay focused on what I can do to prepare, knowing and accepting the fact that I can’t prepare for everything. I need to just be mindful with each day, and mindful as we go along, and get used to being who I am. I’m really just not good at it yet.
I’ve got a shipment coming in from Sherwood Foods either at the end of this week or the beginning of next and it’s funny because I worry about it – can I store it all? Have I ordered too much? Or not enough? Do I know what the fuck I’m doing?
We’ve rented our Texas house, accepting the application this week from the folks who will be living there for the next year; the only ones who showed any serious interest in our marvelous house after having it on the market for over a year. It’s strange to let people live in your house and pay you rent. I don’t like it. 3409 was the nicest house we’ve ever had – best floor plan by a long shot and we both loved not having a basement. Yard, who cares? It was plenty big for us. Nice back patio. Great kitchen. Nice finishes. As perfect a house as we could’ve imagined. Except for its location. That’s life right there. We just weren’t meant for Houston, or Galveston, or Friendswood, or League City, or Kemah, or Clear Lake – Texas in general I suppose – it just isn’t the place for us. But we’ll miss that house. The housing market, at the time of this writing, is terrible – beyond terrible, it’s the worst housing meltdown in our lifetime – and we’re paying a heavy price. It’s all part of this Texas fiasco; there hasn’t been a single decision that’s worked out to our advantage down here. We might someday sell 3409, though I struggle with that because I think once a house becomes a rental, it tends to stay a rental (unless maybe the people renting it decide to buy it). But hell, what the fuck else are we supposed to do about another $2250/month in mortgage payments? It just cannot be done – it doesn’t make sense in anybody’s business plan to be dropping $3500/month on mortgage + rent while trying to start a business. So while I’m writing this, convinced of my decision, which Angie left up to me, I get a call about an agent who wants to show the house today in a ‘couple of hours. I sent a text to Alinda, our real estate agent in Texas, to get her opinion take on the situation. Gads, what if we got an offer to buy? Chances are so fucking slim, it doesn’t really even count as something to concern ourselves with. Alinda just texted me back saying “no” about cancelling the showing – she wants to sell it too of course. Vogging hasn’t worked for shit regearding the sale of 3439 but, undaunted, Angie typed up a jazzy vog before we left Texas:
3409 Volterra Vision of Greatness 2011
Our home is beautiful.
We’ve created an inviting, functional and friendly environment that has generated many compliments and positive review by visitors.
We’ve had many good times and our home has served many purposes including a yoga sanctuary, business planning center, creative incubator and love shack.
We’ve liquidated as much as possible and are down to the bare minimum of belongings. It’s the morning of April 14th, and we’ve packed our things and cleaned our empty home in preparation for the new owners. We are heading north to our new adventure, having accepted a fair offer on 3409 – we are excited and relieved – whew! Our minds (and bank account) have been freed to focus on our new business. We are more excited than ever!
[Aside, 3/25/2020: This photo appears in a previous blog (I don’t recall which one) but as it originally appeared in this portion of DOP1, I’m republishing it.]
This picture pains me; it’s symbolic of my utter failure in Texas. Yes, we’re starting a new adventure, a new business in a our old home town, but the defeat here still stings. I don’t know that I’ll ever get over it. Anyway, 3409 would eventually sell, but not for over another year. The new houses in our price range were apparently selling within six months in Friendswood, but unfortunately not our house. It’s the most expensive house in the neighborhood, the builders in the subdivision have changed three times and this last one is building bigger and cheaper homes, which is what folks down here apparently prefer. Big. Like the Texas cliché. Terra Bella, our neighborhood, just never “took off” as the realtors have told us. It doesn’t have a community pool (we hate them), man-made ponds (hate ‘em!), and it’s small, only about 90 houses (love it). It’s also located on one of the only boulevard-style streets for mile and miles around, with grass and trees down the center. Almost everything we like in a neighborhood but apparently nothing anybody likes in Houston.
April 28, 2011. We cancelled the lease agreement today. Alinda, our agent, called to say that she got a nasty phone call from the guy bitching her out, using f-bombs, for having us take the refrigerator and for still showing the house while the lease paperwork was pending. That type of volatility is not something I want to deal with, and with the less than stellar credit rating, even though it may be better than it looked, it adds up to an omen of trouble. So we’re backing out. Into nothing. We had a couple showings yesterday along with this lease hassle, but nothing’s come of them. Maybe the showings indicate some increasing potential for sale, and maybe not – it’s just not worth speculating anymore. So the risk is back at a screaming high level for this adventure. What’s weird is how it just doesn’t bother me. I just know in my heart that this is what we’re meant to be doing – starting HH in A2 – and whatever happens, we’re going to get through the first season doing our very best and if that damn TX house is still a problem, we’ll deal with it then. It might break us, but we’re not afraid of it, which indicates to me that we’re biophycomythologically correct. Bliss or fiasco, this is what we are meant to be doing.
Angie and me got into each other’s shit last night after some drinks with her work friends. I’m too much of a fucking schizoid idiot since we’ve come up here and I have got to get my shit together and handle this better – this is supposed to be good stress, we should be trying to enjoy this time, but I’m damn disappointed in myself. I’m treating Angie like shit while treating other folks well. I’m impatient, demanding and mouthy. Fuck myself. She’s pissed and rightly so. She’s exhausted from being at the office with all the old work-a-day shit and she’s not communicating; she’s disengaged to some extent and irritable. We talked it out. We’re in this to win it together so we’ve officially agreed to quit pounding on each other.
Good news today from David W. from Mark’s Carts – we’re allowed into Union Hall Kitchen tomorrow afternoon, April 29th. The final inspection from the county Health Department is that morning and it seems they expect the license to be issued at that time, no hassles. So we can get finally begin to get organized and get cooking. My meat delivery is due next Monday or Tuesday. I’ve got dairy lined up and dry goods too after Paul from Darcy’s Cart helped me out. Great guy and he’s got good food coming out of his cart already – a talented dude – we chowed down at last week’s farmer’s market from his cart. I had a French toast taco that rocked and Angie had his breakfast special – eggs, cheese, chard, on a great flour wrap. Tasty. I’ll get our kitchen keys tomorrow, get organized with my batterie de cuisine, look at the equipment and storage areas again and see what I might need to buy – a bigger stockpot and some storage containers at least.
Also, David said the courtyard is tentatively scheduled to be ready for carts a week from tomorrow, so that’s Friday, May 6th if the weather doesn’t fuck up the concrete pour. We can load our carts onto the slab by hand – you can’t drive vehicles on it while it cures for two weeks – then opening day would be that Saturday. It kind of makes me breathless just writing that down! I’ll be as ready as I can be. Here’s a shot of the cart in the 1433 driveway that I took last week when I demo-cooked our lunch (soup):
I got everything fired up, tightened a blazing propane line leak, and I’m very happy with the steam table action. The umbrella looks good I think. The leaves are finally coming out on the trees around here and the rain is predicted to end for at least a ‘couple days starting tomorrow. I’ve got plenty of shit to do while Angie’s at work. I’ll get down to People’s Coop to look at sugars and dry beans per Paul’s suggestion. I need a chalk board for a menu. I’ll get my recipes together. I’ll make a produce order for Frog Holler and I need to start making stock next week when my Niman stuff comes in (PLEASE NO HASSLES WITH THAT!). In the afternoon I’ll check out Union Hall Kitchen and see what size stock pot I should pick up. Anyway, it’ll all starting to become much clearer seeing how much cooking, storage, refrigeration and freezer space I’ve got with the kitchen build-out finally completed.
 It’s Friday, August 9, 2013 and I’m writing this update: I’m looking at this absurdly optimistic – naïve – date and I have to laugh at my ignorance and impatience. What the fuck was I thinking that I could write a first draft, query it and get it published all within a year or two? Ugh. But I’m leaving this embarrassing nugget in here to demonstrate the magnitude and multitude of mistakes one must be willing to endure as part of self-work.