Friday, May 29, 2015

When Failure is the Only Option

I have no delusions of grandeur. The average author - that is, anyone who is attempting to write and publish either novels, short stories, or poetry - collects $4 a year. That is not a typo. To date, I have made nothing from my writing, perpetually rejected by literary journals and agents. Only once have I received a personal response, everything else is a generic "thanks but no thanks." The odds are stacked. Technically speaking, a child born right now has a bigger change of making the NBA than being an author who can support their life by their writing. We tell kids one of those dreams is unrealistic early on, you can guess which one it is.

I have no delusions of grandeur. My talent level is good enough to write to the tune of all As when I was in school. I would get compliments about my conclusions and argumentative process in essays, or pacing and dialogue in creative endeavors, but I am not good enough to be published. To do so goes beyond being a one percenter. You must not only write well, but somehow chance upon someone who is looking for what you write, and enjoys what you write, and then is able to convince someone else, typically with money, that publishing what you write is worth it. It's a chain of command buoyed by barrier after barrier. And that's just for novels. There is very little money to be made in short stories or poetry, and even less in terms of publishing.

I have no delusions of grandeur. Some 20 rejections since I was 18. Try as I might, scouting out journals that have lower barriers to publication, I can not get accepted. Even the most generous publish at less than 10%, and the really good ones well under 1%. There's the percentage again. The only time I was in the top 1% for anything was the science and English sections on my ACT. Congrats, I took a standardized test, a real judge of intelligence that one. At least I had to write an essay.

I have no delusions of grandeur. I will try to continue to write, because I enjoy it. I know what kind of traffic my blog gets. I know that I will likely never be published. I will continue to check my email every few weeks to the tune of another "thanks but no thanks" from some editor or journal, and burn through ideas faster than the once a month cigarette at the end of my lips can generate them.

I have no delusions of grandeur. I've read the stories that get published, I've read the stories that are close. I've read stories that blow me away with prose and tenacity and creativity, the imagery lighting up like fireflies in our empty grass lot in late July. These people, whoever they are, will always be better than me, and even of those who are, some of them don't make it, either. I weep for the writers who aren't in the top 1% but are in the top 2%, so good yet so short of what they want.

I have no delusions of grandeur. When I read my stories, after a time, I can pick out flaw after flaw, error after error, and tweak and tweak and hope that I am getting closer to something, to what I don't know, the goal is publication, but I have to be honest with myself, some goals are just impossible. I can send off hundreds and hundreds of short stories and never get published; some people do, eventually giving up as midlife encroaches and their hobby is just another passing eccentricity, looked down upon by family and peers.

I have no delusions of grandeur. I know that the odds of someone having reached this point in this post is very small. I know my chances of ever being a writer are smaller. I know that I will be stuck in a cubicle, for the next 60 years, wasting away slowly to the tune of a paycheck, idolizing the written word, the prose, the sound of it as it rattles around your skull, and still I will write. I write because I know nothing else. Because I have nothing else. And while nobody may want to accept my writing, I certainly will not give it up.

I have no delusions of grandeur.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Rule of Creation

It seems to the present author that creating, whether it be writing, painting, filming, or any other creative venture, comes with a strict set of never broken rules or characteristics, perhaps made most notable by the creator's quick resignation to self-hatred of whatever has been created. For example, given an amount of time greater or equal to a month in which a piece has been completed, the creator will undoubtedly begin to hate every single iota of the created piece; eventually, given a long enough time, they will grow to detest every bit of it, until the piece becomes an example of everything not to do. This, of course, makes it hard to publish or make public a work, because undoubtedly it will come to reflect values you no longer hold, styles you no longer copy, and talent you no longer have (but never had in the first place). This creates the uncomfortable position of having to distance yourself from that which you created. Given that this is the internet age, that is even harder now than it once was.

It can be correctly assumed, then, that the present author will indeed hate this blog at some point, at which time will likely occur a permanent cessation of all posts, due to not wanting to pollute the world with any more poorly elucidated thoughts.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Long Summer Weekend

Idle thoughts, idle motion, kept to bed by choice not by virtue. Ceiling fan spins... spins... spins. Air is moist and warm and heavy, house no A/C, upstairs becomes a sauna, no blankets needed when sleeping... sleeping... sleeping. Listen to sad music, try talking to a friend, try doing something but forget it and never try it again. Let the dishes stack up in the sink, let the trash stack up in the canister, let the dust gather like a thin coat of paint, it scream apathy at you from hard surfaces. Make sure to water the plants so they don't die, at least that's easy enough, don't forget to drink water yourself so you don't die, that's a little harder. Hours and hours and hours waste away into nothingness, haven't opened your mouth all day because who needs talking? Maybe you'll fall asleep and have a good dream, but the nightmares are becoming more common again. The day slowly morphs into evening, and your left with the sinking feeling of still having hours to kill.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Longest River

... is denial. Bad puns make good music, thanks Olivia Chaney. Someone called me very handsome the other day, had to be an exaggeration, clearly, nothing handsome about me, just a stick figure ambling along in a lanky frame with glasses and hair that never co-operates, they used to call me Harry Potter in school and it wasn't a compliment, they meant the book version, not the makeup trodden Daniel Radcliffe of the movies. Of course she also said - the girl who called me handsome - that she likes guys in glasses, so what do I know; not much, really, 26 and still learning, aren't we all, but I try to rationalize it, can't, there's nothing about me that's handsome, I can barely make it through the day without an existential crisis, that's not physical but mental but what the hell's the difference, I'm not going to win the heart of a look-lover or a sapiosexual, in the meantime, have a nice day, don't spend too much time in the river.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

On Injustice, Variably Described

If one buys the notion that poetic justice does indeed exist, it stands to reason that a sort of poetic injustice might also, irrevocably, exist. Considering the state in which poetry exists in the modern world - that is to say, to be a poet is to be someone without an income - it could perhaps be snidely remarked that poetry is suffering from a, suffice to say, poetic injustice itself. Of course, one could also refuse to make such trifling attempts at humour. The author has refrained from showing such restraint.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sex Sells, But Who's Buying?

Provocative thread titled; Is it all about sex? People collect things to keep up with neighbors, accrue stuff, pursue pleasure, but what's the route in which the pleasure is ordained? Thinkpieces on one night stands in hotels and hostels on far away excursions, fancy cars and fancy houses, what are they for? Want to feel important to someone, want to feel needed, right? But what does a blue-tinted BMW convertible say about needs and wants, maybe the drive just wants to get laid, maybe they like the speed, who knows, base behavioral patterns are hard to intersperse amidst the glitz and glimmer of modern capitalism. Advertisements tap into sex appeal relentlessly, bodies coated with photoshopped skin move gracefully, remove clothing, shed nuance. Hey, remember when your parents told you to get the good degree, from the good college, to get the good job, to get the good house? For what though? To raise a family in, right? Pass on the genes. Here we are at age 8 being programmed by both baser instincts and parental guidance, then the teens go to college and sign up for community work to get laid, so I'm told, meet other people in your age group while also helping, cynical view really, not everyone is the same. People speak loudly in public to be heard, for what purpose, to sound cool? To attract a mate? People play their music loud for what purpose? To look cool? To attract a mate? We make lists of our favourite things looking for assurances and commendable "your taste is my taste" notions then flutter away a month later when we realize nobody cares, I'm rambling, maybe everyone just wants someone who cares, or maybe everyone just wants to fuck.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Sour Smell of Sewage Seeping

Been there, done that. Telecommunications company this time, directional drill blasted through the sewer line, before we knew it, legions of feces-filled water was flowing into the basement of the office, the smell seeping into our pores and strangling our nose, the smell was not something you adjusted to, it hits you when you walk in and sticks around. The floor is ruined, baseboard ruined, desk and chairs sat in the water, everything sanitized for now but will be ripped up later, the blaring white noise of fans to dry everything out drones out the sound of the phone ringing, now the smell of sewage mixes with the smell of cleaner, it's an assault, it's nauseating, the open windows laugh at the futility of trying to bring in fresh air, there is no fresh air here, nothing but the smell of waste and chemicals. Scared away co-workers who will not come in and deal with the sensory assault, I don't blame them, I sit here gallantly trying to feign apathy towards the stench. Good thing it is Friday.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

On the Concert

It was fun, of course, occupying this weird twilight-zone of young-adult-hipster-alt-Detroit that doesn't feel at all at home here in the Midwest, there were people eating outside everywhere and walking outside and all kinds of things. It stood in starch racial and class conflict to the surrounding metropolis, white flight apparently was comfortable settling down here in Ferndale, if you followed the street though it would run right into downtown Detroit.

Anyways, as to the concert, charming bar, small, about 100 people there, some pool tables, a stage, two warmup bands and then Lady Lamb, who was great, she believes in Detroit, hates how one of her favourite places to play, also in Ferndale, was turned into an EDM club, sings really well live, has two guitars and a banjo. Signed the vinyl I purchased even though I don't care about vinyl nor do I own a record player, it seemed like a cool opportunity to get her autograph. Stumbled into the bar at 8, stumbled out at 1, that's a long time to be standing soaked to the bone from rain, but it was worth it.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Night Drive

There's comfort in the 3am stillness, the emptiness of the roads, the flashing yellow traffic lights, the warm night air. There's no pressure from compounding traffic, or pedestrians, no sounds of traffic droning on over the music, the lights blur into neon infused trails of post-modern light pollution. Patches where street lights have flickered out pool and collect darkness and hide the city, the highway becomes an endless menagerie of night owls and truckers occasionally set against the tree line. The washed out dimness hides facial features, imperfections, headlights cast shadows upon nose and eyes where flesh is bounded by rising and falling action. The car comes to a stop in the driveway and the only sound is a faint breeze and the wind chimes from the house behind ours. The night air breathes onto me as I walk inside, letting me know that there is safety and comfort in the now 4am stillness.

Friday, May 8, 2015

On Anxiety Before the Concert

What if I arrive too early?
What if I arrive too late?
What if I can't find parking?
What if I look like a loser?
What if it's too small a venue and I can't blend into the crowd?
What if it's too large a venue and there are too many people?
What if there's a mistake with will call?
What if I can't find will call?
What if I don't know where to go?
What if I am the only one there alone?

Slight anxieties beforehand.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

On Work

It is true that Shakespeare wrote little to nothing about being bored at work. It is also true that, while Shakespeare did not write about it, the present author's current state of employment is A) rewarding insomuch as it is a job the author has, that pays, and that is relatively easy, B) full of co-workers that run against the author's present values, and finally, C) immensely dull. Given also that the present author wishes to travel, and is afforded 2 weeks of paid vacation, and has developed a rapport on account of never taking sick days, value judgments regarding the place of employment are variously conflicting. One finds that the state of the environment at work is both maddening and frustrating, and that the dullness is at times angst-inducing, but considering how the present author, as stated in previous posts, suffers from a lack of skills and talent, perhaps such ease of employment is the best for all involved.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

On the Art of Art

The present author suffers from a derelict number of talents - that is to say, the present author has none at all. But while the lack of a talent may display itself rather un-insidiously over the course of one's adult existence - depending on the area in which one lacks - it is much harder to cover up the lack of talent in school, where a variety of subjects are carefully negotiated by the young. However, in even more remarkable circumstances, the present author did not have a distinct lack of talent in some areas, but a distinct un-talent, if such a word may be imagined for the time being; that is to say, the present author was so incongruously bad at one thing in particular, that fellow classmates perhaps rather accurately anointed this author with the nickname "WWA" or "World's Worst Artist." Considering the abject inability that reared its head on multiple occasions; such as that, at times, in a showing of something between sympathy and pity, the art teacher of the present author often gave away her own work to said author when he could not aptly finish the assignment, this nickname truly was a spectacle of truth and accuracy. Concerning the still current author's inability to draw, fold, sketch, paint, mold, or anything else remotely resembling visual art, perhaps, one might presume, that these are areas that our fearless author would not pursue as a job or source of passion. To wit, the present author did not attempt to pursue visual arts. However, to the dismay of very few but unquestionably potentially many, the present author has instead decided to attempt to pursue writing as an outlet of creativity, another genre in which the un-talent is distinctly apparent.

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Personal Post

It's an evening drive amidst warm setting sunlight, cars occasionally pass by headed to or from the beach, the trees are just beginning to blossom and there's an actual leafy smell that just faintly encroaches. A piece of paper gets whipped up off the street in the breeze and dances with a woman whose arm is moving up and down outside her car window, cupping the air and throwing it back out. There's music, of course, cascading down over me like a cold shower and fermenting emotions and drenching the atmosphere in placid melancholy, and there's the knowledge that, as I age, I will never write a book that moves people to tears or makes someone think they weren't living up until that moment they read it, I will never direct a movie that leaves audiences in stunned silence at its grandeur, I will never capture the perfect photograph of a perfect sunset, I will never sink the game winning shot in a basketball game, I will never have the "college experience," much less graduate from one, I will never fall in love with someone so fully and have them fall in love so fully with me that nothing else exists, all these moments are moments that might as well be lost to me, slipped through my grip as time's finite beat marches on, body only a decade away from starting to feel sore in the morning after drinks at a bar that I sit at alone. There's so much beauty in the world that I will never be a part of, never create, never do, and at times it's too much, so I'll play some music and drift away to sleep to the sound of melancholy guitar and piano, and dream of what might have been if I could have just done things differently, if I just taken more risks, stuck my neck out, leapt without looking, been smarter, been funnier, been prettier... been better. Learning to be something I never wanted to be, and learning that I won't be what I wanted to be, is an inescapable futility of growing up, nobody ever dreamed of being a Walmart greeter, or a tax accountant, or a telemarketer, yet here we are, learning to be our average selves, in a world that's anything but, hemmed in by money or family or time or work or other constraints that we wish to escape yet find it so hard to push back against, and trying to be crushed under the realization of it all.

Outside, a young child plays in the grass, unaware of things to come.