For me the end of 2004 marked the beginning of an extended depression. In June I finished my first novel, The Stations. Hoping for some useful feedback before sending it off to an agent, I asked several friends if they wanted to read the book. They said sure; I figured they’d all be finished reading within a month or two. Wrong. One finished in 4 months, another in a year, the others never got past about the second chapter. Meanwhile I’d finished the first draft of a second novel, called Prop O’Gandhi. In mid-October I sent both books to an agent (a friend of a friend) with no one other than my ever-supportive wife having read either one. Three months later (2 years ago yesterday) I got the bad news: too “experimental.” No agent has looked at either novel since. Here’s some of my journal from December 2004.
People don’t pursue the exceptional. Why not? Don’t know what to do. Afraid. Can’t see it. Cultural counter-pressure. Can’t engage. Not chosen. Don’t know why. Don’t see interest from other people. What, psychologically, does it take to engage relentlessly in the pursuit of the extraordinary?
Possible book topic: “Writing for an Imaginary Audience.” This idea has everything to do with motivation for starting and persisting on an exceptional course. Are you doing it to please, to get a big payoff, to be personally validated? Are you elite or just an oddball? How long can you stand the isolation? Is it good or bad for you, for the work? What happens when you leave the community of competitors and go it alone? How much trouble do you take to assess whether anybody likes what you’re doing? Do you need to be needed?
Does a thing exist if it isn’t seen? How many realities can one thing possess, if reality is bestowed by the audience? I would be picking up the Postmodern thread by pursuing this course: reader in the text, etc. From the reader/consumer’s perspective, there is “creative” reading, deconstruction, etc. I’m oriented on the writer’s side of the transaction, and from the writer/creator’s perspective it’s a different set of issues. Does my work point beyond me to an Other, beyond itself to a Consumer? Or does it point iconically to a Reality in which reader and writer can participate? Dunno.
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Is every creation the cutting out of something from the undifferentiated whole? The hole is the evil twin of the creation; it is the complementary destruction of the whole, the hole in the whole. The hole is the double of every creation. The hole then becomes the template for duplication of the creation. What once was part of the whole has been isolated; the hole has become the pattern for what has been excised, the form for simulacra production.
A creation carves out from the whole an awareness of something that had already existed beneath conscious awareness. It leaves a hole, and so the first instinct is to stick the creation back into the torn fabric and sew it up; to de-create the creation. But once the creation catches on, it is the hole that forms the template for duplication, not of the whole, but of the separate piece. When the template becomes frayed, the dupes become distorted. This needs more thought.
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Why do none of the ideas grab me these days? Nothing has momentum: it all feels old and forced. But there’s nothing else to take its place. When is it time to force something to happen? This seems to violate core principles of Portality. The better advice seems to be: be alert, then move when you see an opening. But you might already have to be in motion.