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Archive for July 8th, 2008

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From Spurious yesterday:

I’ve never gone through that, have I?, W. says. I’ve never really experienced failure. In fact I hardly regard myself as a failure at all, W. is sure of that. All that writing on the net, for example. would Kafka ever write on the net? Of course not. W. doubts I’ve ever really read Kafka. If I had, then doubtless I wouldn’t be writing on the net. You want to be loved, says W., that’s your weakness. The net is your delusion. If I had really known my own failure, I would know that. W. has been to the bottom, he says, but he doubts I have. In truth, I’ve never really known failure, despite everything I write, says W. It’s all play-acting.

It’s actually a good question, about Kafka. Completely unanswerable of course. I think, though, it’s a bit tougher than Spurious’s W makes it out to be.

I happen to share something with FK. Lots of people, though maybe not more than you’d think, it’s hard to say, are like us. I’ve written thousands of pages of fiction and poetry over the past, oh, sixteen years. (Half my life, as of a few months, actually). Thousands and thousands of pages. A novel, a half of a novel, countless starts at novels, abandoned twenty pages in. They are all terrible, and if it mattered at all, I’d ask a friend to wipe them from the hard drive upon my demise. Hundreds and hundreds of poems, which, unfortunately, though they might be OK, are almost all exact facsimiles of each other in all the ways that matter. So I could maybe publish one of them, two at most. And that would be that.

To date, I have sent out exactly one poem for publication. Zero fiction, certainly none of the novels. In sixteen years of writing. It wasn’t very good, though it was a little less a facsimile than all of the others. It was published in an on-line journal. This was back in the heady days of the web, so I was actually paid for the effort – a $15 gift certificate for Barnes and Noble. Not bad, though I made more in royalties from people downloading my dissertation, a dollar or two more during the first year of its availability.

When I went back on the job market, while I was at my first job, I wrote the owner of the site and asked him to take it down, the poem. He was very nice and did it the same day. I asked him if he wanted the money for the gift certificate back, and he said, no, no, that’s fine. Don’t worry about it. It wasn’t very good, the poem, and it haunted me that it was out there for all to see.

It is a diffficult question, whether Kafka would have blogged. Impossible question, and a bit silly. But it fascinates all the same. I’m not sure I understand fully the relationship between my, well, addiction to this, the need to fill in this webform everyday, every other day, twice or three times a day. I think I used to believe it would get me some writing work of some sort, which it almost did, but it didn’t work out in the end. I’m certainly not self-marketting, as the people who read this – most of them – are friends, even if I don’t know their names, rather than, what? What else could they be?

I’ve often tried to keep a diary, a journal. I wish that I could – I wish that I had a set of notebooks sitting above my desk that covered 1999 – 2008. I cannot write, it seems, without an anticipated recipient, so the blog works in a way that the little notebooks do not. And so I have this – I wish the archives were all in one place, instead of here and then split into all the little text files for all the dead old blogs. I’ve been doing this for a long time now.

So now I am working on something new. Another novel. Every day, Monday through Friday, you can find me at the Starbucks on XXXXX,* from 3 to 5 PM. After the day job, which is, you know, in the summer about doing my academic writing, finishing something that will earn me lots of money in the form of raises, permanent raises that come with promotion. I’m not hurting, but you know, I could use the extra cash. So, in the afternoons, I am a Starbucks laptop typer, yes. Obviously, the venue suits the subject matter, as you might be able to guess from the contents of this blog, which are not entirely dissimilar to what’s going down in this book. While living in NYC, and working on the first in this string of attempts at novels, I became so infected with what we might call anticipatory marketing sensibility that it fucked the writing, caused the things to grow stunted in the artificial light of the B&N front table. This continued when I left NYC but spent every waking minute pining for it, scheming to return to it. It’s better here – neither being in or needing to return immediately to NYC has done wonders for my willingness to step (ever so slightly, perhaps) outside of pitch anticipation. My wife says I should just forget about what would work and do what I want to do. Living here has been good for us in this way. Expatriation makes a lot of sense for certain people, I think. And, in general, I’m not sure that city, NYC, is all that great for writing. It’s too, dunno. You know what it is. It helps to live where there’s just the right mix of splendor and shit, a mix of the right sort of splendor and shit. There, for me, before the thought’s even a thought it comes out $$$$$$$$$$$$$.

If I finish this thing (I think I will, and by the end of the summer), and if I, you know, do the things you do to try to publish it (god, we’ll see, my track record ist nicht so gut at getting these things into envelopes with stamps and cover letter) and that doesn’t work, I’ll set it down in pdf for you guys to have, on me. And I’ll try not to think of it as my own personal In Rainbows move, especially since there’s no back catalogue for me to sell you. Maybe, soon, I’ll make up a little representative section for you and you can tell me what you think if you want.

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July 8, 2008 at 10:09 am

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