It is at times like this when I’m not writing or even writing about writing but writing about not writing that I can only comfort myself with examples of Kafka or Fitzgerald wailing and gnashing their teeth over the thing that would not make itself available. Worse yet, though, is the realization that while I’ve definitely hit a few homers, mine were knocked out of the park at practice rounds in ball fields no one will ever see, which amounts to masturbation. No quantity of nuts blown into the toilet or your favorite sock will produce an heir no matter how much flourish and gusto you coaxed them out with.
There have been times I looked online for inspiration, but either the Almighty Algorithm or the dystopian present’s mundanity or both have taken hold and all I see now are hundreds of posts about an airline. I’ll blame you whenever I can, and today has been a wonderful opportunity in that regard.
That said, I’ve resigned myself to guerrilla warfare when it comes to creative acts. Every time I sit down to produce one large work, I’m smothered by wrongness. I’ve been in enough relationships that were panic-inducing from the get go. Every book I start feels like the wrong partner, but maybe I just fear commitment.
Perhaps I’m afraid of going dark for months only to emerge with another hunk of garbage. Possibly, I’m afraid I’ll never love it, and I might be even more terrified it would develop some kind of following, which I’d be forced to defend. Is it possible to carry to term something so hated and have it flourish? Do the scriveners of cliterature adore their own fantasies or are they more fond of the paycheck that follows? Did they dream of Hemingway’s Spain while they hashed out this month’s titillating tale, available now on Kindle for $2.99? Did they clutch their dogeared Bukowski through college and emerge with the next hot cautionary teen free-verse hit, and another, and another?
Did they squeeze that turnip from their office or did they stand in a restroom stall to proofread while they huffed piss? Excuses are excuses, but I’m actively selling my belongings because I’m failing to make it on the income from a full time job and an inherited farm. If the Great American Novel is something I can find, I’ll have to steal it piece by piece. It’s too cumbersome, too great a thing to haul off during lunch breaks and precious time away from my growing offspring.
It is not lost on me here, the hypocrisy of searching for success when I rail against the very system that refuses to accept me. I’m the unyielding problem child who begs for unconditional love between tantrums. I’m Cool Hand Luke digging his hole while society says, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”
Once, I read a union-busting pamphlet that described socialists as losers, whiners, lazy, and chronically depressed. I can’t take exception to that anymore, but I still ask, “Why should I love a world that goes against every fiber of my being?” I must own the stereotype, though, in order to move forward. Revolutions are not led by #winners. I am the shit guy. I’m the one who can’t hack it here. I’m the one who cannot be pleased, so I yearn for an order and a method different than this one.
Funnier, still, is that I have all the equipment to win but in precisely the ways I don’t want to. I have the land, the face, and the race, and the religion is there for me if I choose to accept it. I’ve been so gripped by layers of self-loathing that I’ve denied what I arguably am in favor of some other thing, which is a fairy tale. Still, I’d die a dreaming pauper before I sold my small remaining excuse for dignity out for a few pats on the back from gold-adorned soft white hands.
So many people claim to want change, but it is usually in the order of things, not the method. Whatever label they slap on it in the western world, it usually boils down to replacing capitalism with intersectional capitalism, as if that could be a thing on a grand scale, but capitalists will package it thus and sell it to you as a first step toward democratic socialism if it gets your buy in, though they obviously have no intention of taking you there.
The burning hatred I hold toward a system I both cannot change and, as I hurtle toward forty years of age, have not succeeded in, consumes me as well. I’ve taken the old adage about rage being like drinking poison as a challenge. If I drink enough, perhaps I’ll become a choking, flammable cloud. This spiritual self-immolation is destroying me, but when the spark arrives, won’t there be change?
I am the worst combination of things: A spoiled American, a guilty middle-class white man, a pessimist, and a dreamer. I am vain, narcissistic, and in control of very little except, sometimes, where I take a shit. I am the migraine, grinding away in the dark. I am broken-tooth insomnia.
This isn’t leaderspeak, but I am not that. It’s best I embrace who I am and what I’ve always been, which is the guy who wasn’t very good at things even though someone thought he was supposed to be. For all my bluster about being Bolshevik Batman, I’m more like the copycats Batman beats up before he tells them to go home and leave it to the experts. I should mention that Bruce Wayne is Ayn Rand’s wet dream, but it still follows. I’m a basket of contradictions that barely tolerate existing in the same container, and so are my metaphors.
I will write of angst if that’s all there is. I’ll fill volumes with tension headaches and neck spasms. In time, I’ll have enough essays on pessimism and the futility of struggle to publish “Fuck It: Why I Can’t Say Fuck It and Stop Fucking It,” which will sell for only $2.99 on Kindle.
It’s no Chuck Tingle, but it’s all I’ve got.