Thursday, March 19, 2020. Five things a day. Today I can journal then post it on the blog. I’ll count that as one. I can edit TC2, later today, that’s two. What else? I can ponder my POI strategy – who else could I send a copy to? On that score, I’ve pretty much run out of ideas. I don’t know, here I sit with eleven paperbacks and five or six hardcovers to unload because I’d not planned on shipping author copies directly to folks from the distributor. There must be somebody else, a series of somebodies. Who? Where? Schlepping out unsolicited copies is a desperate act, to be sure, as etiquette demands at least a query. Wannabes bury POIs with their efforts as if the POIs are anxiously waiting for more junk to jam up their mailbox, to pile up on their porch. Here’s a book, dude. You’re somebody, read it and promote it. On my behalf. Get behind me. Oh, but you’re a musician. Well, here’s my CD. You’ll love it and want to tell everyone, all your fans, about me and my creation. Because that’s what you like to do, isn’t it? Read or listen to everything that comes your way, sans context, and dig into its origins and story and get the word out. You want to help every wannabe get to your level, don’t you?
Not. What if I weren’t just a wannabe? What if I had a fan base? What if I sold books? Would I appreciate people I don’t know sending me copies of their shit? If I were like Bill Bruford, I’d be baffled by the phenomenon. He comments somewhere within his biography about the weirdness that prompts people to send him copies of their musical efforts. As if he cares, is the long and short of it. But then ‘ol Bill has never been a fan of music – he’s one of those, if you read about him, who was a musician before he was ever a listener, a real listener let alone a collector of albums or a connoisseur of the work of others. He was never a fan in the sense that, say, I am. He was apparently too busy getting paid significant amounts of money to play drums on people’s records.
Yes, I’m an appreciator of music; I’ve been a listener and a fan of music and musicians all my life. But how about books? Have I been a fan of books and their authors? Have I collected books? No. I’ve read, yes, like anyone else. But I never admired and followed any author, prior to J.C., that is. Not like I’ve always followed music. So be it, I don’t think this is an uncommon thing, not necessarily being part of the fandom of your vocation, that is. Meanwhile, I respect both perspectives. And I lean towards fandom because it’s such a wholehearted, mindful, fulfilling world. I get what it’s about, having a passion and also having one’s work, one’s art-craft, function as the source or one of the sources of somebody else’s passion. I say that as if I have experience with fans of my work. Well, to some extent I think most of us do; that is, when we surrender even inadvertently to our talents and produce something out of that then somebody, somewhere, at some point, even if it’s just one other soul, will recognize it and appreciate it. And they’ll look to you with a form of admiration.
It’s all good, it’s all healthy. So-called hero worship is, to me, one of the healthiest, most admirable perspectives one can have in life. It takes you outside of yourself, draws you into the world and at the same time cultivates your inner life. Akin to a torii gate, something or someone that you admire, a person who is a hero to you is a symbol and an affecting image; they’re your cultural mythology and therefore the fuel and support for your personal mythology. This is the synergy and the essence of a mythological life which necessarily establishes the experience of being properly alive, which is the thing, the experience we all, whether we acknowledge it to ourselves or fully understand the psychology or not, are seeking.
Nobody’s worth admiring as if they’re a hero, you say? Everybody has faults, nobody is better than anyone else. There are no heroes. When you have a hero you’re kidding yourself into thinking that person is special when they’re not. Nobody is. Well, I’m happy to say that, yes, they are. Because a hero has done something exceptional whether you want to admit it to yourself or not. For those of us with heroes, dead or alive, we already understand that they aren’t superior people in the sense of being superior all across the board. They are heroic within the context of their art-craft. Or whatever context it is that makes someone a hero to you. Pick a field of endeavor and there will be the exceptional people within it. And just to be absolutely clear, none of this hero stuff has anything necessarily to do with altruism. Neither does it necessarily have anything to do with being valiant. Words tend to have their multiple meanings. But hero I do not mean an exceptionally courageous and self-sacrificing individual. A hero isn’t the same as, say, a champion. A war hero. A sports hero. These folks can be valiant. And therefore heroic in that sense. I’m talking about the hero with a thousand faces hero. Which isn’t at all about trying to diminish the elite status of a hero into the everybody-is-a-hero-in-their-own-way nonsense. No, they’re not. Heroism indeed always does involve a certain self-sacrifice and courage. Because when you create a thing, you’ve risked something. You’ve given something of yourself and therefore you’ve given something up. You’ve place yourself within the realm of adventure and trials and the risk of failure. You’ve made yourself vulnerable and won through. That’s the heroism and heroic and hero that I’m discussing here. Each of us looks up to someone, consider it that way. And if you don’t, well, I think you’re an exception to the rule, which is fine, but you’re a statistical outlier. And you’re not the person I’m seeking a discussion with, here in this post or anywhere else. You’re not my reader, no harm no foul, no worries, see ya later, have a nice day.
I was accused of being a fanboy by some loser on the King Crimson website once. It wasn’t a direct, personal attack, but this guy found it necessary to proclaim, somehow, vaguely, in general and otherwise pointless and, in my opinion cowardly terms that, well, he wasn’t. A fanboy. Whatever that is. I think it meant he was a fan, because there he was yammering about King Crimson, but not a fanboy. A fanboy, as I interpret the psychology, has to do with being a boy versus a man. I guess. I mean, that’s the nature of the word, isn’t it – fanboy? Versus, say, fanman? I don’t know. And I suspect this moron doesn’t either. But there he was, keen to throw cold water on one of my posts in the forum; keen to single me out, disparagingly, as a fanboy. A boy and not a man. Whereas he’s a man. His fandom had to do with being a man. And I was just a boy. Which implied, in the end… what, exactly, since everybody on the dgmlive site is middle aged and beyond?
I’ll attempt to speculate. A fanman doesn’t get carried away, he doesn’t gush or sing praises or wax poetic about things. No. A fanman is critical. A fanman sees things as they really are. He sees that bad along with the good. He knows the bad is always there. He listens to musicians, say, who play and create things he never could and knows that, despite the fact that he has no musical talent himself, he still knows it when he hears it. Or doesn’t. And he isn’t afraid to say so. Hence, and this is the key point: a fanman is better than a silly fanboy. Fanboys are silly. His opinion, based as it is on negativity, is a better, more useful, more rounded, more important, more valuable, more intelligent, thoughtful and therefore legitimate one. It’s apparently also more manly. He’s the guy who listens critically. All the time. In every way. So that he’s not fooled. He’s not foolish. Like the fanboy. Who listens and reacts to his listening to, well, like a kid. Like a boy. Hence, fanboy.
Ack. I get on these rants about people who think they know. And all they manage to accomplish is a projection of their own meanspirited core. And I’m admitting right here and now that I do this too: namely, rant and rave and behave in a meanspirited, rain-on-everyone’s-parade manner. I use the words as weapons. I’m the pot that calls the kettle black. Although in my defense, given all my faults and foibles, I’ve neve referred to anyone, in public no less, as a fanboy. So, fanman and fanmen out there, if you’ve managed to read this far, it hurts to be referred to as a fanboy when what I am is, sometimes, very enthusiastic. And I know there are times when somebody else’s enthusiasm seems unhindered and uninformed and therefore bothersome and annoying and the claws come out. You’ll have to take my word that I know what I’m talking about with King Crimson or anything else I go to the trouble to write about and self-edit and post. Or blog, for that matter. So, fanman and fanmen, I forgive you. Sort of.
Back to my five things a day, referring of course to the idea of the five things that will promote my getting from where I am to where I want to be. With the book, of course. And therefore life. Because they’re tied together, my book is my life. In my head. Only when the book succeeds, which means it gets sold and read in ever-increasing quantities, then, do I succeed. This really puts me in spot, a jam, doesn’t it? Because books sales and readership are at zero. And something doesn’t come from nothing. You can’t make people read your book. You can’t even encourage them, at least outright. You have to entice them. You have to give them a very compelling reason to consider reading your book. What would that compelling reason be?
I don’t have a clue. Why do any of us read anything? First, we have to know about it. We see a review, most likely, withing the context, the realm of our awareness. That review that attracts us, however, was not something we sought out. Rather, we fell upon it. Whilst engaged or otherwise immersed within our interests, within the field of our mindful attention. We were reading a magazine that we trust to make us aware, directly or indirectly, of new or old stuff we might also like. Such is the nature of so-called AI applied to marketing. How do I, then, best place myself in front of potential readers? If this were easy to figure out, then I’d be a genius.
What to do next? Despair, of course. Give up. Throw in the towel. Keep throwing money at it. Spend twenty-five hundred or three-thousand dollars on an audiobook version of your non-selling novel. Good money after bad. And it’s been a week tomorrow, I think, that I queried Findaway Voices (a lyrical name, somehow) and frankly, the half of me that is enthusiastic about trying to tap a perhaps more inviting market for my novel, one with, supposedly, demand that outstrips supply (I’ll believe it when I see it), is counterbalanced by the half of me who thinks, fuck, what another waste of goddamn money and time and hopes to Christ they can’t find a way (pun!) to even get a narrator. So that then, I don’t know, it will all be over. Like it never happened, writing, creating, being determined and devoted and getting it done. Showing up. Doing something lots of folks dream of doing but never get around to doing. I did it. Wrote the novel. Took my lumps with querying, suffered two rounds of rejections. The years and the tears. And still stuck with it, surrendering wholeheartedly (translation: desperately) to indie publishing. I endured the learning curve, kicked its ass because I’m a natural and good at what I do and spent the money and got it out there and… and… what? Nothing is what.
I read these blogs that mirror all my suffering, that reinforce the reality of the writing world as not one, at least in statistical terms, and the only thing they do is make me miserable. At first they comfort you in the misery loves company way. Then you get to the end and you’ve still got the non-selling novel and the editing of the next book nobody wants. And it makes you think you’re goddamn insane or something. I mean, what in hell is wrong with me? I’m a discerner, I know the difference between a good thing and a bad thing, in music, in books. Am I fucking blind, then, to my own deficiencies, to my own lack of talent?
This pervasive idea, too, that one’s first novel always sucks. Bullshit it does. I don’t get it. You’ve written a novel that you think sucks? How? How in fuck did you manage to keep reading your writing and editing it so that you’ve ended up with a beginning, middle and end to a manuscript that you think sucks? Oh, I thought it was good when I wrote it (which means when you were through editing and rewriting all that time) but now I see that it’s terrible. Or that it’s just so-so. Or that it sucks. But only after writing my second novel. Huh? I just don’t get it. I’ve written three novels in succession and got fifty pages into the fourth in the series – a series being essentially one long novel, after all – and five years have gone by and I’ve read the fucking thing a million times and so has a professional editor and the thing isn’t genius, clearly, but if it sucked I am very confident that, after fucking five years and endless work on it, that I would be capable of knowing it sucked after the first paragraph. Let alone after twenty-eight chapters and three-hundred and eighty-some pages. Really. I just don’t get this first novel sucking thing. Were you perhaps unconscious when you wrote it? Or possessed? Perhaps you’ve a split personality? It’s all crazy talk.
My novel doesn’t suck. I can open it to any page – it’s sitting right beside me on the table as it always is, for fuck’s sake because I’m not only proud of it but I actually LIKE it – and damned if I wouldn’t maybe tweak something here and there but not always, it depends, and damned too if it doesn’t hook me, engage me and I’m reading with enthusiasm and I close the book and think, damn, that’s good shit! Better than a lot of the utter dross that I read in a bookstore or page through online. As the author of your first manuscript (if you’re still waiting on a trad publishing deal) or your first indie published novel, don’t you like it? Don’t you really like the damn thing? I fucking do. I think Time Crime kicks ass; I think it rocks. Hard. And the next book, my god, it was only a first draft but here I am editing it into shape and it fucking rocks hard, too. My writing inspires me. My writing rocks. Otherwise I wouldn’t have suffered for it so, all these desperate years and the desperate years to come: I live for what I write and what I’ve written. It’s worthy. I’m fucking telling you, world. Somebody ought to fucking read it and tell me otherwise. Go ahead. Buy it, read it, and I’m telling anyone who’s up for it that Time Crime has a money back guarantee on it – if you buy a copy, read it and feel like you didn’t get your money’s worth, send me a note, send me the book, a copy of your order from wherever, tear out a few pages of the thing and photograph them, snail mail them or whatever. Communicate anything resembling a proof of purchase, more or less, and I’ll refund your money. We’ll work it out.
Granted, I have to be convinced you read it, but if you’re honest that ought to be obvious. Don’t just play around with me and try and scam a free book out me out of me, I’m nobody’s fool, thanks. Well, maybe I am, but you know what I’m saying. But really, for those of you out there who might be inspired to become a first adopter type and it’s only the risk of losing your ten or twenty or thirty or so that has been holding you back then consider yourself relieved of that burden and let’s do business. Let’s engage. Let’s read. Let’s discern.
There. That’s my third thing today to help get from where I’m at to where I want to be: the Time Crime Money Back Guarantee. Starting today. Offer ends, I don’t know, at the end of the year, January 2021, you’re on your own after that to just complain with a crappy review, whatever makes you feel better. Otherwise, it all sounds like a pretty fair deal. Now I’ve just got two more things to do to top off my five things, but this is a start. Of course you’d have to read this blog, which would be something notable to have happen in and of itself, mind you, to avail yourself of the offer. But perhaps you’re out there, perhaps your indeed reading this right now. C’mon, then, game on. Prove me wrong about Time Crime being a kick ass read. Prove me wrong that I’m just talking and reading and writing to myself.
Let’s move on to today’s “Vintage Post” entry. And the reader will notice that from now on, such historical gems will communicate the same day/date format that I use to this day, so no more guessing about when in 2010 or 2011 things took place. You were wondering, sometimes, occasionally, weren’t you, dear readers? Right. Anyway….
DOP1 (2010-11) VINTAGE POST:
Sunday, February 13, 2011. This is a day to scrub floors because there’s stress in the air, a tension, due to the Mark’s Carts outcome closing in. That the decisions are already made or not is not important. That we find out who gets in or not tomorrow or the next day is important, though not critically. It’s just something that me and Angie have to get past, because shit like this hangs you up. Scrub floors, walk, talk, listen to the hockey game. Whatever. Do something except wait. We’re in charge, this is our life, and it is not about what other people are doing.
Sunday March 6, 2011. Interesting to reread the previous paragraph. Now I see how far we’ve come in just a few weeks. There’s still stress, but it’s different. Humble Hogs made the Mark’s Carts cut – our application was accepted! We’re told Mark H. had thirty applicants, of which he selected eight carts. It’s a victory and an achievement and a success that legitimizes our visions-of-greatness and it legitimizes the process of creating our vog. There’s some serious financial and logistical challenges ahead of us now. We’re struggling with the reality of renting a house in Ann Arbor while still paying for our house in Texas – we don’t want to pay for two places to live until we have the money to really do that. We can hack it until about June, and that’s in our vog, so we should just accept it, and keep chunking. But for some reason, having gotten out to sea so to say; having hopped on Campbell’s biophycomythological “ferryboat,” I think we’re suffering from exactly what he describes as the moment where, just having started the adventure you wanted, that trip towards enlightenment, you cry “Mommy!” and sort of panic. You want to reconsider what you’ve just gotten yourself into.
We spent ten days in Ann Arbor and they helped. We met more guides, we got support and encouragement from like-minded folks who understand our HH vog completely and don’t question it – they just want to help. There are resources in Ann Arbor to help us get our pigs and our food and our biophycomythology completely engaged. It will take diligence, time, creative thinking and courage. Our families don’t fully comprehend what we’re up to and why should they? They’ve got their own lives and they’re not discouraging us, they just don’t know how to help yet. So, no resistance is a valid kind of support – at least that’s how I’m taking it.
Having decided on two cities where I wanted to engage our vog – Portland, OR, and Ann Arbor, MI – I had asked each of them, in my mind, to make their “offers,” their “sales pitches” so to say as to how they were going to help actualize our vog. There has to be some give back on this biophycomythological work – the place has to welcome and encourage you I think – otherwise it’s just beating your head against a wall – not every place in the world can accommodate your vog or your biophycomythology. So, after visiting PDX again, and now Ann Arbor again (taking action!) we found Ann Arbor reaching out to us with support and opportunity. PDX supports us through its vibe, culture and environment, but Ann Arbor provided Mark’s Carts and it’s an opportunity to engage our vog more easily, with more support and more probability of success.
March 14, 2011. ‘Not much sleep last night worrying about how the fuck we’re going to pull this Ann Arbor move off. Money. The Mark’s Carts thing actually seems like the easy part sometimes – it’s this paying for two houses in two different cities thing that seems like the big challenge, the potential deal-breaker. It’s really baffled us how this beautiful, charming house here in Texas can just be ignored as if it’s some shitty dump with cat-piss carpets, busted windows, a rotten roof and lousy plumbing. It’s nuts. This house is a gem, I can tell you because I’ve owned several – it’s got the best floorplan, best finishes and overall best value of any house we’ve ever had and I think we ever will have – perfect size and shape. The neighborhood is quiet. Yes, a little cramped, but aren’t they all? We’ve got one of the biggest lots. All this usually makes a house go quick on the market, yet ours gets damn near no interest at all, even with the fire sale price? Cripes, I can’t talk about it anymore, we’ve got this house staged to sell or rent and what other folks do about it is out of our control. Sometimes I think we’re just meant to keep this place, whether we live here or not. We need to put our energies into things we can control.
This poem by Eamon Grennan has stuck with me since I first read it in The New Yorker in the early nineties. It captures the darker side of the biophycomythological struggle, how it’s not always a flood of positive energy. Sometimes it’s just holding the line, staying the course, remaining in paradox, using your tools, and really nothing else – sometimes your vision just involves getting out of what feels like a tight spot – of being “a wild heart out of its element”:
No, I’m not sweating the permissions thing on “Bat.” By Eamon Grennan. As it appears in The New Yorker magazine from the November 4, 1991 issue, page 42. I’m considering this fair use, damn the torpedoes, the damn citation is there for everyone to see and I just reiterated it and Eamon, dude, if you’re reading – hah! – or somebody at The New Yorker, if you’re not jiving with me talking about this poem, liking it and begin enthusiastic about it, of being perhaps an Eamon Grennan fanboy to the extent that I went to the trouble to yammer on about it and then cut (literally back in those days) and copy the fucking thing into my journal so as to save me transcribing the damn thing, then, well, talk to me. Write to me. Email me. Tell me to take it down. I’ll do so. Promptly. No argument. Hey, Eamon…? I know you’re alive because Wikipedia says so. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eamon_Grennan You’re seventy-nine years old. It looks like you’re enjoying a fantastically successful career as a writer. Eamon?