FULL BLEED: IT WAS SO CLEAR TO ME IT BECAME INVISIBLE
I love going places, but I hate travel. And having spent nearly two weeks traveling to a time zone that was eight hours removed from my own, after a week I'm almost recovered. But not really. That return flight, all three legs of it, was pretty rough. Okay, the first leg was fine. As much as can be expected. London to Montreal. And when you're transantlantic, they treat you pretty nice, give you snacks and little wipes to wash off with, headphones to watch the in-flight entertainment.
Then you get to the domestic legs of the flight and you're treated like, well, a domestic airline passenger in economy class. When you're working on basically zero sleep for most of the day before (had to be up by 4 to make the taxi and didn't really sleep because I had to be up at 4 and was paranoid about sleeping through the alarm), little irritations become gigantic. Sitting in the interzone of the airport becomes both boring and anxious-making. Then you get on the plane where your frame is just a little too big to sleep in the chair, even leaned back, so you merely exist and if you're lucky, you just shut down for minutes at a time.
Then I get home and there's a leak in the house that takes two days of phone calls to try and nail down and a four-hundred dollar charge from a leak finding company which did not, in fact, find the source of the leak, just where it made itself apparent. This is not the same thing.
At least my car's back from the body shop and having been away for the last nearly five months. There's a couple minor things and some quality control issues that I should have made a stink about, but I guess not even the inanimate makes it through traumatic events without some scarring, so I'll chalk it up to that.
Then I get back and it's finally time to consider getting back to work.
This part's tough. It's real tough. I talk well about refusing to play the game, this whole publishing thing, about how the work itself is enough. But there was this really weird and unsettling moment where I was at a chain bookstore in Dublin (which has more than a couple chain bookstores with outlets in it -- imagine that!) and looking over their science-fiction/fantasy section (some of which was plainly populated with horror novels such as Mexican Gothic, but I suppose even over there horror is a label that folks don't want to get stuck with.) Anyways, I was there, looking at a lot of these books, some familiar, some brand new to me, and I was feeling utterly and totally left behind by the whole process, of writing and books and everything in it. Like slip me beneath the surface and not even a ripple would escape to mark that disappearance.
And I don't know if that's me or the whole business of things. A sort of mutual rejection. Having spent so much time on the outside, just scrabbling to get a handful of readers (which was way easier in comics than in prose, but that's another story) maybe there isn't a way back into things. I don't want to deal with the business and how it distorts my own relationship to my work, the value of it or even the urgency of doing it. And it sure as hell doesn't want or need me. Go ahead. Count all the books in your favorite genre that are coming out this week. This month. This year. Now make yourself really crazy and count all the ones that are coming out because people thought that leashing a couple prompts to a sophisticated set of autocomplete algorithms will get them the fame and fortune that they deserve, that Writers and Publishers have always denied them. Look around, those folks are out there on the social media platform of your choice, all so proud of the little bits of Anti-Life that they've coaxed out of these systems, showing both their absolutely insensate perceptions of art or literature and their fundamental misunderstanding of what art even is.
But then I wrestle with that particular is. A lot. It beats putting something with your name on it, tying it to a brick and watching it sink in the seethe of Genre Discourse. What's the thing that's worse than being talked-about? Not-talked about? Yeah, try never having been. And sure, I can go to local science fiction/horror shows and get a jolt of being treated like a Real Author, but that's not much of a jolt, nor does it last. Nor should it. That's not what the gig is, right? Maybe it was at one time, the whole construction of author as persona, which in my case is probably grounded in varied and myriad misreadings of history and expectation. What is it even to be an artist, an author? What makes it real? Is it the celebration or the dying in poverty (Picasso and King notwithstanding). I've spent so much time on it that I don't even know that I can see it any longer. Maybe I'm tired. I know I'm tired. Tired from being the (mostly) only one to take these things from nothing and filter it through my experience and background and history and whatever else comes through while I try to shut off the thinking brain and just let the work write itself; tired from trying to get these out to a world that is (mostly) utterly indifferent and certainly an industry that is; trying to exist in a world that really can't be bothered. Yeah, the weight of worlds gets to be a real one, that carving and shaping and tweaking and worrying and I have to wonder sometimes why.
Maybe I'm just tired and need to go back on vacation. Or go meditate until I can come to terms with the koan that I've tied myself into. And maybe those things just aren't possible and all there is to do is to keep picking at things and sticking my hands into the void until something comes out of it, drained or not as I may be.
Anyways, Ireland and Scotland and England were pretty great, rough travel aside. Lots to think about, even if it made nothing else clearer.