I've been too busy writing to write about writing, lately. I had to take a deliberate vacation from Long Shot Books so that Maureen could actually get shit done without my bologna in the way. She's probably posted more interviews in my absence than I have in the Weebly's lifespan thus far. The thing with writing is that it's almost a form of meditation where you're so hyper-aware of every thought you have that it's hard to break the spell in your everyday life. It's silly when you say it out loud, but there's a lot of stress involved with every sentence. (I go more for a freestyle approach with these posts but I've already read this paragraph about eight times over.) Think of how much it takes to be one actor in front of the camera, or the set designer, or the director telling the actors how to act, or the screenwriter deciding what they say. Writing a book is kind of like being all of those things at once. So far as the narrative is concerned, you're God. (Now, whether or not you're any good at playing that role is a whole other story...) So, it can be difficult to go from that to Silly Internet Blogger sometimes. Much like writing a book, making post like this requires a special form of narcissism, not to mention Maureen and I try to separate this company from our own creative works as much as possible, but this all ties into a relevant point. Long Shot Books is a company by writers for writers. That's why it's was necessary for me to fuck off for a while. How can one play Virgil without first completing his own hero's journey?
Let's get this out of the way, now. Conditional Love is the last Todd Crawford book, in many aspects. It's not the final book that I will write, almost surely, but it's both the last book of the ilk I've been writing for the past few years. I mean, it very well could be the last book I write. That doesn't really matter to me. (If none of this makes any sense, I understand. Well, maybe I don't understand and that's the problem.) Much of the book is about the dynamic of the idea of an artistic persona vs. a true identity and how one reaches a point where they cannot coexist. It's no coincidence that I'm releasing the book physically on my twenty-seventh birthday. As soon as I realized the ending of the book, I knew it had to be a last of some sort. The important thing is that there's no second second chances. There isn't the excuse of a sequel. If there's another book, which there probably will be at some point, it will be far enough removed from this that they can have unique identities. It isn't walking away in frustration; it's more leaving well enough alone. I've never put as much time and effort into anything else I've done before and the idea of following it up with a quickie isn't that attractive to me. Plus, I'm kind of drained. With Conditional Love, I'll have written ten books in the last decade. (Before you think that's impressive, take a look at the quality of some of them and get back to me.) Writing a book is starting to feel like the point of exercise where you're just hurting yourself and it's time to get off the treadmill. I'd rather shut myself up until I have something new to say, however long that might take.
And...it's no secret that there have been a lot of personal struggles this year. The circumstances don't matter. They're just variables in an equation; once you solve for X, there's another problem just below it. What is important is to recognize that every misfortune is an opportunity to grow. I'm not thankful for all the stuff that's been working against me. I have this weird anxiety about anyone else taking credit for inspiring me to write this book (which is funny, because who would even want to do that), like I needed to suffer in order to get to this place. No. Losing a couple grand, chronic nightmares, and total paranoia have not contributed in any healthy manner to my creative process. I'm too fucked up to get it up to fuck without getting fucked up. That doesn't help, either. Plus, I never changed my act for pussy so why would I switch it up for a few cunts? Usually, art's a distraction from life but lately, it's starting to feel like my life has been a distraction from my art. There's no one person or event to blame for any of my circumstances. The only one responsible for myself is me. I'm writing this book because I know that's what I want to do, and I owe that to myself.
Of course, it's embarrassing to say or share these things. That's the point. This isn't my best self but who else is offering their worst material? If you want to improve in what you do, you have to confront your worst self. You have to look the worst person you're capable of becoming in the eyes and having the patience and love to turn that into the person you thought was too good to be true. You can't brush anything under the rug; you can't make any excuses. You don't build muscle by sitting on the couch. I'm using myself as the demonstration, here. You can't be afraid of yourself. Don't think “How am I going to deal with this situation?” Ask yourself how the situation is going to deal with you. You don't have to be perfect but if you're not doing your best, then you're selling the world short.
It's important for me to share this and it took me a month to build up the courage to do it. It matters because when we start taking in real submissions, I don't want any illusions of authority or prestige on our behalf. We're “artists” just like you. (I'd never call myself that but for the sake of communication, just roll with it.) I can't look an author's profile picture on Facebook in the eyes and type them some crap about writing their best book if I can't even finish mine. Maureen understands that and has been incredibly supportive about it, so thanks always to her. (Heck, she let me crash on her couch rent-free for a month when my home life got too bad that I needed to move out. We'd stay up on work nights and talk about our plans for this company while I got too wasted to remember what I was running away from.) Thanks to everybody who reads and supports this company and my goofy, inappropriate articles. I think the coolest thing anyone's ever said about my writing is that they could tell I put everything into it. For now, this is what I've got. I'll try not to go so long next time.