A Post(card) from the Trenches
This post is apt to be random and is likely ill-advised. But I doubled my word goal today, and I feel compelled to share things. So here goes something.
I’m rewriting my next book. Revising? Rewriting. I’m taking the seed and growing a new tree. It’s terrifying and liberating and I’m angry and in love and scared and thrilled. My dad always told me [back in my musician days] “You have your whole life to write your first record, and a year to write your second.” I used to think that meant that you had a lifetime’s worth of songs to draw from for your first album, but then you had to write four hits and five b-sides in twelve months for your second. But that’s not it at all. The truth is, I didn’t spend my whole life writing Symptoms. I spent my life writing other things, but Symptoms was the first book that “hit.” So now, there are *gasp* EXPECTATIONS.
Someone recently posted this David Bowie clip on Facebook:
And I agree with Mr. Bowie. You should never play to the gallery. The thing is, I’ve never had a gallery before now. So my agreement with Mr. Bowie’s opinion was based purely on imagined circumstances, which are, in some ways, now real. So it’s not that I’m playing to them [you?], it’s just that, well, there you are. And you’ve read my first book. And now there’s another to write. I’ve never had a gallery to not play for before. That’s the difference, and I think that’s what my dad meant. I’ll find out when he reads this blog posts and texts me.
Also, I’m a dad now. And it turns me inside out in a great way. My flaws and strengths are under a microscope. My time is whittled to a fine point, so my intentions must be honed to a sharp edge. It’s intense living. I’ve been sick five times this year. I’m trying to get to the gym. I’m still eating vegan. I have some gray hair. I kind of like it. I’m the dad in the Nirvana shirt with a fauxhawk and a four-day beard. I never thought I’d be that guy. I’M TOTALLY THAT GUY.
I’m not working a day job anymore, and it’s amazing. It’s isolating. I’m so grateful. I’m so lonely. It’s too loud around people, and it’s too quiet when they’re gone. I have to type so much. I want to quit. And then, when I’m done, I just want to start typing again. Wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, I want to be somewhere else doing something else and I figured that would all go away at some point but it hasn’t and it isn’t and I’m not sure I want it to. Dissatisfaction is AMAZING motivation.
No artist is pleased…
There is no satisfaction whatever at anytime
There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction
a blessed unrest that keeps us marching
–Martha Graham to Agnes DeMille
When the band ended, I stopped listening to new music because it hurt too much to watch other people living my dream. But now it doesn’t hurt so much, so I’m catching up. I just started playing Twenty-one Pilots and I get it. Things like that. It’s old but it’s new. And time moves faster, so things get older faster, and everything is new for a shorter period of time. This blog post is already old.
My new book has teenagers struggling with mental illness and it’s really, really hard to write about. It was easier, ironically, to write about Riley’s struggle with gender identity. I only had to look in the mirror a little bit. But now I’m looking in the mirror every day for a long time and it’s hard to look. And it’s healing, but in an astringent way. In an “Ow, shit, I just poured rubbing alcohol into my papercut” kind of way.
Sorry, only fiction has an easy wrap-up. This is more of a blurb. A slice. Cinéma Vérité. A postcard from the trenches. Now I have to crack my knuckles and get back to making stuff up. I hope your day is surprising.
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