Writing this fucking article is the last thing I want to do right now and yet there's nothing I'd rather be doing. My cat's lying beside me and I'm listening to Pet Sounds. I should be DTF (Down to Function?) with this thing, but the ambition just isn't there. I feel stupid, impotent, like the biggest jerk in the universe, and have absolutely no right pretending to be writing from any position of authority. I don't really understand how I plan to release other people's books when I can't even figure out how to sell my own. I'm big-headed and don't have the muscles to back it up.
I don't have any outline for this post. I'm distracted. My thoughts keep drifting below the belt and I'm wondering if I'm so repressed because of a turbulent past or because I'm incapable of living in any one moment. On one hand, I need to move forward with my life, but on the other hand, there's some shit that needs set straight for the record. But then, being a jerk to vindicate myself would only prove myself to be the jerk I was made out to be? So, it's just another lose-lose situation. I can't express myself properly and that makes the people around me uncomfortable. My body's in a constant state of pain and I have to roll my wrists and ankles, which makes a bony popping sound that makes me, if not everybody else in my vicinity uncomfortable. My arms are always stiff at my side and I've never danced in my fucking life. I'm quick to criticize and afraid to compliment. Then I go and write some whack shit like this on my publishing house's blog as though that counts as productivity. I had planned on writing a blog post about some lame-ass advice Neil Gaiman wrote about ignoring logical criticism and how I think that if that isn't an example of anti-intellectualism, then what is. Somehow, dissing on Gaiman feels like punching down for me, and wouldn't be that fun. Then, I could write about how to collaborate, but what the fuck do I know about collaboration? You see The Renaissance Men around? I haven't in well over two years. I'm pressing my wrist down so hard on the keyboard it looks like there are cuts across it. If I could figure out how to work that into a singular visual, that could serve as the upcoming e-Mo/Anti-Counter-Culture rerelease scheduled in the next year or so.
If you actually read this far, why? Are you some kind of voyeur? Do you hate me? If so, those are two things we can see eye-to-eye on, so there's that. If you want to write, or do anything in life, there's really only one thing you can bring to the table, and that's yourself. There will always be someone with better grammar than you, more impressive reference points, more publishing experience. There'll always be a face better prepared to be sold on a back cover than yours. There is no hierarchy of authors, necessarily, but I do think that's an indisputable fact in that it's so obvious that it isn't a concept worth wrestling with. My point is, and I'll make it quick because I'm thinking (hoping) that I'm drifting off as I type this, that the only unique asset you have is yourself. Nobody else has lived your life exactly, and nobody but you is you. That seems obvious, but only because it is. The trouble is that not everybody is going to want you.
First off, you're going to have the haters. I was never big on that term and I'm still not, but there's a lot of clique-ishness in the literary world. It really can feel like Mean Girls at times. “Oh? Another book about a character discovering himself/getting over a past trauma/[insert story trope here]? Like the world needs more of those.” Usually, I try to avoid strawmanning but a series of viral images with book covers mocking the various tropes getting shared by writers and publishers alike kind of proved my point to me. (I also don't like citing examples without citations, usually, but I never saved the images and you'll just have to fucking trust me on this one thing, God dammit. If I find them again, I will share them retroactively on this post.) Simply put, some people just won't meet you with open arms. Did you ever see that episode of Recess about how some people just aren't going to like you no matter what you do? I didn't, but I saw some anons discussing it on 4chan the other day while I rode the bus. It's like what I imagine that episode to be like.
Most importantly, this whole “be yourself” platitude is about honesty. You have to keep it real with yourself and know who you are and what you're about. That isn't as easy as it sounds. Back to the collaboration thing, you have to be real with whoever you're working on it, be that a co-director, editor, or coauthor in terms of what you wish to accomplish and how to accomplish that. You'll be seen as an egotist if you don't bow down to any criticism but you'll be a coward if you don't put your foot down on some of your hard-line values. I played a huge role in the dissolution of Renaissance Men by not having the emotional intelligence or confidence to do so. Now, you're probably not asking yourself, “But, Todd Daniel Crawford, author of such classic flops as The Final Gospels and L'Pilgrimage, how can I be honest if I write fiction?” You just have to listen to the story and find what's right. When I get stuck, I'll just start asking myself questions about what would happen next, knowing the characters and flavor of the story. I don't have the tools to demonstrate for you exactly how that process works but I think you'll know once it starts working for you. Look around the room you're in. Then, close your eyes and try to imagine what the room looks like in your mind. That's kind of what it's like bringing the idea of a book to life.
That might sound simple but it's something very few writers, very few people are willing to do. Think about charming demos from a young band before they break it big. Then think about the polished sound of something like Coldplay. Which would you rather sound like? Exactly. Right now, I'm trying to figure out how to fill in the blank spots of the room I'm illustrating for you people, but my memory's a bit hazy. I'm sure there are more clothes on the floor, some posters on the wall that I'm leaving out, but I'm fucking tired and when I sat down to write this, I never actually thought I'd get around to finishing it.
I'm only going by the moniker, “Honest T” for this one article. I mean, that would be ridiculous if I actually ever used it more than once. It really isn't worth even a one-off, it's so corny.