FULL BLEED: BLACK PHASE
Trying to remember if I used this title before or not. Probably, back when I was with another provider and then got in a fight with them about who actually owned the domain and kiss a little of that good free content goodbye, you know? Long enough back that nobody's going to complain that I recycled it, and if I did, fuck 'em. It fits.
I guess maybe the problem is that I'm together enough to understand how fucked-up things are right now. In the past, I had enough distractions and everyday brushfires that it wasn't the issue that it is today. Never figured I'd get here, you know? 'Cause I believed that bullshit about persistence and hanging in there and everything will fall in line.
Look, it's well-meaning bullshit. It's the kind that you embed in a movie and have a character say a couple times to make sure that those who were asleep the first time would get that hidden meaning, the hero's journey would be complete, the viewer gets that dopamine hit of catharsis and WHAM. Enlightenment. Moral delivered. Keep chasing your dreams. Yeah, I love movies. I hate this sort of tidy thing. Yes, we like the tidy thing because life simply isn't. But sometimes enough well-meaning BS is too much.
Yeah, I get like this around this time of year. Birthday coming up and that's not a milestone you can ignore super easily. Turning of the seasons, sure. We've all got air conditioning. But plop that cake down in front of me and all those candles and gosh is it hot in here or do I just have my collar on too tight? Shorter of breath and all that. You've heard the song.
So, yeah, things are no longer in crisis mode and then you gotta deal with all that shit that you don't want to 'cause the house is on fire and you'll just do that later. And when I say "you" here, I mean "me" but it's hard to type that, so let's just keep some distance in here so I don't hyperventilate or scream into a pillow for an hour instead of staying focused.
Black phase. And you've run out of excuses to see that you're soaking in it. Oh, don't worry, the black phase isn't permanent. It's the foundation, dig? Black phase to white phase to red phase. It's a process. Because in alchemy, the process is meant to transform the alchemist, not the base metal. At least that's the way I learned it.
I mean, the black phase ends, right? That's what I hear, anyways.
I submitted my first book to a major publishing house in 1991. It's possible it was all of 1992. Huuuuuuge difference now, right? It got kicked back, but did I have any fantasy to show them? Yeah, nah. I didn't. I wouldn't have a fantasy novel together until 1995 I think. And even then, it wasn't what they wanted. But hey, I wrote two novels. That should separate me from the pack, quite the accomplishment, don't let me throw my shoulder out with the back-pats. That hurts.
But hey, that's only twenty-five years ago. Maybe I just wasn't good enough. I hadn't persisted enough. That dream is there to chase. Catch it and steal its skin then demand your wish before you return it. Yeah, that's a dangerous game. What if it doesn't want that skin back? Then you've really done it. I hope you know the myth I'm talking about. Haven't got time to recount it here.
So yeah, persistence isn't enough. Not by itself. As I was reminded by a guy who I'm still shocked follows and interacts with me pointed out, it's about you yourself giving a fuck about the work. And that's a hard thing to remember, because it's not a weight you can shift to anyone else. Sisyphus doesn't get to ask for help, right? Worrying about whether your wife or family will pat you on the back? That's a trap. Thinking that being published will shift that weight and things will be easier? Wow, is that ever a trap. Contrary to what it seems like, I've been published for close to the last ten years now. Even made the kinds of money that you're supposed to feel good about (for short pieces that is) and have worked on projects that fell just short of the NYT bestseller list. Yeah, my name's not on 'em, but they wouldn't be there without me doing some of that lifting.
Then I got into a deal where someone not me was publishing a book with my name on it. I figured that would take that feeling away. Which, as any Buddhist will tell you is a bad move, 'cause you're investing an external event with power that it simply doesn't have. I've been looking in the wrong place, because, well, it's easier than doing the hard work, right? What can I say? I'm weak. Only human. And like Mr. Quimper says, it's hard to walk in this world.
(Really, it's not reversed. It's printed like that.)
Life gets in the fucking way. That's what life likes to do. My issues have been easier than some folks have to deal with and a lot heavier than what a lot of other folks deal with. My own load. My family's. Sometimes the weeds get higher than the garden. Sometimes they gotta get hacked down. Overgrown. Black phase. That's the raw material. The base of the process.
Fair to say that the only one who can open that door is you. Is me. And yeah, I've talked about the power to just come out and forgive yourself. Maybe that's the one time that forgiveness shouldn't be tied to good works? At least to shift the pack initially, then the work really begins. Is this making sense?
Do I feel better? I don't know yet. Do I know what's happening yet? Not until I find out if the publisher I've worked with in the past will be picking up the work. I mean, then I'll know whether I'm publishing it or they are. All I can do otherwise is move into it, pick up the scythe and clear a patch today. Tie that off in a sheaf and do it again tomorrow. Sun's getting lower every day.
That cake is coming. It's always coming.