Throwing in the Terrible Towel
He's a nice kid, if a social maladroit. He's the guy who killed Jack the Ripper and, while being the official cinematographer for Buffalo Bill Cody, invented moving pictures. And, since he's the narrator for my novel, Tatterdemalion, I've made him my scapegoat for not posting regularly since late last year. So, Scottie boy, I'm sorry. You deserve better.
Sure, this book's kicking my ass. I'm in the middle of the fourth (and, hopefully, last) line edit that (again, hopefully) will make it acceptable to a resubmission to a top literary agency that was horrified by its original quarter million word count. I won't lie to you whether you've tried to write and revise a historical epic or not: It's a daunting task, to micromanage every fucking page, paragraph, line and word, making sure no word gets a free ride by not pulling its weight, adhering to the laws of physics and human psychology, sticking close to historical fact (in this case, the Jack the Ripper murders as well as the political and social conditions of the 1888 East End). I wouldn't wish something like this on my worst enemy.
But it's not the sole reason I haven't been around very often. And, as much of a drudge as this book is after living with it for going on two and a half years (the prologue and first chapter was started in November 2012), I'd still rather be shaving words from it than doing this. But there are some things I'd like to get off my chest as well as explain to what very very few readers this dying blog has as to why I've been MIA since last year.
And the fact is, I'm old and tired.
Words on a monitor often belie age. Those deceptive little building blocks of speech, of thoughts and feelings rarely if ever convey just how old a person really is. But I'm going to be 56 this Friday. As much as I should be grateful for living so long when one considers the alternative, I'm feeling every nanosecond those 56 years. Save for when I get up unforgivably late, I can hardly get through a day without taking a nap. There doesn't seem to be as many hours in the day anymore as there used to be and energy is scarcer. Stairs are steeper, headlights on the road are brighter than they used to be and newsprint seems more smudged than ever.
But most of all, after nearly 10 years of doing this shit, I think I've finally hit that final wall.
I know, those of you who have stuck with me since the beginning or close to it have heard it all before. I've made no bones about the fact that political blogging's a filthy, thankless job. I'd even deleted my first two blogs in a fit of pique, as a way of saving myself through drastic action like that poor bastard who had to cut off his own hand with a pocket knife to escape certain death.
But I keep putting myself right there between that rock and hard place. Something else, as I'd said before, kept dragging me back in.
Yet the outrage isn't there anymore. That outrage, that hatred for Republicans, Bible bangers and other assorted right wing nut job fascists just isn't there. Now nothing, it seems, can rouse me from my slumber. It's like Quasimodo looking over his shoulder and seeing the hump that identified him now suddenly gone. I don't blog anymore and I even stay away from Twitter for whole days at a time because it, too, is a worthless celebrity-driven time suck that, like here, is guaranteed I go ignored.
"Oh, look, I haven't blogged in over a week. Fancy that."
And usually, I have a formula when I blog at length about something. I research and source, even double source, find some catchy lead in (or what we writers call a "hook") in which I propose the problem, then progress until I get to a revelatory if not shocking peroration. End of story.
I've done that countless thousands of times, spilled by my estimate two and a half to three million words in this mug's game we call blogging, this most perishable of mediums. And I don't care to do it anymore. Consider this an unformed brain stew, sloppily ladled out as if by the hand of a tired or disinterested soup kitchen volunteer.
And another fact is, we're all in a rut. Only some of us don't realize it, like newly liberated spirits who don't yet know as they walk away from a fatal car wreck that they're dead. But, really, guys, we're just repeating ourselves at this point. The more deluded of us like to think we're making some fucking lick of difference in the world and even fool ourselves into thinking we're brilliant while doing it. But we're just treading over old ground, doing the same schtick. The only difference is the combinations of words we use. But when all is said and done, we're just plagiarizing ourselves.
And that's how I feel: as if I've just emerged from the world's longest pissing match, or letting loose with the longest wine fart of all time in a high wind. Ten years, a decade I've been doing this shit and this country has gotten worse and worse. And in all these years we've all been shouting down empty wells, the Republicans still took control of the legislative branch because you no longer care any more than I do. The police are murdering unarmed black people and mentally disturbed people and are getting away with it with such a high level of impunity, the police think they're even above criticism, let alone accountability.
Fascists in religion, business, politics and elsewhere are dragging down our planet to the point where the only realistic hopes for salvation are either a Texas-sized asteroid smacking the earth a la Bruce Willis or the aliens finally having their fill of this shit and coming down from the clouds and taking over since we humans are so badly suited for stewardship of anything more significant than a pile of dog shit.
This is not the United States I remember, folks. When I was growing up, you never needed to sit through 4 or 5 interviews for even a shitty job, you never had to pass a credit background check to even get those pre-interviews. And when you called 911, you got help, not shot because you looked a little threatening to some skinhead fresh out of the academy. If you showed up for work and did a good job, you'd be there for life if you wished. Your job didn't get outsourced so your company could make a bigger killing and having armed security balefully glaring at you while your corporate scum boss announces from a safe distance that your position is being outsourced to the Philippines or Bangladesh so the company could "stay competitive" after a quarter in which it posted record profits.
There used to be a compact between ownership and labor and unions meant something like living wages, collective bargaining, an actual voice in the negotiating process. Police would be a part of every community, not apart from it, where they served us, the public, and not merely corporations who call them on you when you, too, look a little bit threatening. Instead, police have become little better than open terrorist sleeper cells in every town and city that, like the real thing, strike and explode when we least expect it.
This country sucks, people. We have nice little toys to keep us amused but not the opportunity to actually make them or afford them. And those among us who like to think of ourselves as progressive and enlightened make the convenient excuse that we've been robbed. We've come to think things like jobs, interest-bearing accounts, pensions, 401(k)s, all sorts of things our parents and grandparents took for granted were stolen from us.
But that's a lie. No corporation, no political party, no entity ever stole anything from anyone.
There's a huge world of difference between someone actually stealing something from you and you giving it up.
Can it really be said a misanthrope actually steals that candy from a baby? No, because the child is not strong enough to hang on to that candy and to fight for it.
And no corporation, no political party, no police department, nothing has power without the consent of the people. And consent is a two-edged sword. We can give informed consent such as when we vote for our elected officials and we can consent to have our God-given, inalienable rights stripped from us as when we allowed Congress and the Bush White House to take away our Constitution through the USA PATRIOT Act, an abominable act of deception and loathing for democracy that still has not been stricken from the books by the current occupant of the White House.
Constitutional rights? Nearly a year and a half after submitting my first application, I STILL can't even get fucking ObamaCare.
In short, I've shouted down a dry, empty well for nigh unto 10 fucking years when I could've poured those 3 million words into lasting works of fiction, to me where the action's really at.
Because if 320,000,000 people don't give a shit, why should I? If you can't lick 'em, or wake 'em up, join 'em.
And there's no reason for me to do this anymore. Save for one ruthlessly obsessive bot from Google, I wouldn't even get 100 hits a day. Our last major benefactor is retiring in April (you know who you are), the second in as many years, and that'll leave us high and dry so it's not as if the money makes it worth it. 2015 looks as if it'll be our worst year, yet. Our landlord is actively trying to sell the house and he's trotting buyers into our home literally every few days. Once he passes papers, it'll render null and void any lease we have with him and without a lease we'll be tenants at will with no protection other than 30 days to get out if they decide they don't want us here.
And we'll have no job, no money and nowhere to go.
Which brings me back to young Scott Carson and his memoir of how he killed Jack the Ripper with Buffalo Bill's posse. I'm looking at this as if it's my last chance at some kind of redemption, my final chance to put myself on the map. I'm going on 56 and I'm no longer young enough to shrug off putting two and a half years into a single book. I'm looking at this as my last chance of solvency since it's looking all but certain I'll never hold another 9-5 job or a job at any hours for the rest of my life.
So I'm putting my nose to the grindstone, shoulder to the wheel, yada yada and looking out for me and my own. I have a spoiled dependent cat and a disabled girlfriend I've pledged to take care of no matter what. And that's the tragedy. I can no longer provide even commentary much less any meaningful help to anyone else.
In other words, the world is forcing me to live my life exactly the way Ayn Rand would want me to.