Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hopefully I can shut up for a while after this

There are a lot of days, and all of them are short, and I am sitting up here at noon again in front of the computer with all my new mail read and RSS feed clicked and observed, the first thing every day I wake up for. Every evening I go to bed feeling the impending sense of what I'll launch myself wholeheartedly into the next morning but often when I wake up and find myself sitting here with coffee, staring, turning on Gchat in case someone has something to say that will click my head some, I don't know, how many of these days can be stared through?

I've been thinking a lot about motivation and intent and 'why this' in the past few days, spooled not only by the suicide of the author many days had been the benchmark I thought of when I thought 'why am I writing at all,' but also by the weird ongoing lanyard of submissions, correspondence, editing, mailing, receiving texts, opening texts, staring at names, the random skewed email from someone who read, the long laundry list of shit foaming against the print industry like welltide seeming further every other week, everything, my bills, the blackmark of credit I've somehow slurped up in the past year despite all my other years of having more than enough money to do what I wanted, election bullshit and my scorn at the idea anything can be changed by someone identifiable to mass groups, the rough battle it is to get anyone who doesn't write themselves just to pick a damn thing up while two beers in is like the baby's bathwater,

,

,

,

I don't know. I've found myself saying I don't know so often in the past few days, and though I think I'd worked myself into some warm way of nodding off right around 3 AM each night somehow I'm back to staring even then, I'm having dreaming of past teachers and arguments over what book is where, benign weird dreams in libraries with Amy Hempel looking at my head while I tell her about what I want to do. I think I have 7 different projects I've been pushing each tinily forward each afternoon between the slur of the internet, 'the number one cause of insomnia,' with four books finished in the past however long and some kind of real benchmark movement for me in that field, it seems like I don't know where to go, like why am I not wearing a suit and using this brain I'm supposed to be blessed with to have enough money to not give a fuck about paying however much for whatever food or going somewhere when I feel like it.

I remember early on when I first started writing voraciously, I was consistently pushed forward by the thought 'If I can just get one book out, I will never feel sad again, you won't be able to knock me down with a bulldozer, I could smile in peace,' and yet with some of that impending now, as gracious and excited and electric as I've felt in certain moments, in the long run I think that that overall shift of feeling has not and will not happen, that I feel exactly the same as I ever did, that my impression of what it will feel like was very misplaced, there was/is no shift. That's been a hard realization, and maybe it will change as things become more real, I don't expect it to, maybe it is good for me to feel this. One in another of a series of hard realizations that though, while I'm blessed to have found a way to have so much time to work on what I want instead of rat-racing, there's a sense in me, and with the concordance of the way just everything in the world seems coming down now, that I don't know. That I don't know. I could keep saying it in hypnosis the same way I find myself walking around the house repeating meaningless drivel rap-lyric style the way I do most days, to the point that my loved ones have learned to drown me out from it because otherwise I would have by now driven them over. I could walk into a room filled with people who have known me for years, fall down in the floor barking and squelching profanity, making PEEP PEEP PEEP sounds through my nostrils, they wouldn't even have to flinch, which is a nice thing, I think, about them and about me, that there is something there but I don't know what.

The words are 'I don't know'



So I don't know. I know writing is the only thing that keeps me the halfied version of sane I still have, and that if I didn't have this desk to come sit at and spurt my fingers on I don't know if I'd even have the nerve to say 'I don't know' still. I don't feel sad most days, I whistle a lot, there are songs, most days I am full of that half-babble that seems like something, something, but there is another kind of something, some kind of glaze, some kind of 'huh' that seems ridden over everything, to the point that these internet words and these online people and these years of staring must be something, maybe they are paying my mortgage in silence, maybe I really will stand in line at the grocery store next to Tupac, maybe language poets will learn to remember they are just people, maybe the bar menu will have a picture of a cat on it that when you touch will begin to read aloud THE SOUL IS NOT A SMITHY, maybe have a tattoo in my crevice I am going to find soon and begin feeding from, maybe I will win at poker again, maybe the semi-pricey Mexican dinner on our credit cards will make us dream good, maybe the nightmare is a little crab in the beach hole and I will lick it yum,

God I am dumb




I don't know,


or more probably I do know just exactly and we're neck-wading in the whole milk
and the Ken Griffey Jr. rookie cards are in the mail,
and mmmmm

or gee-gosh look at this,
and it is real




Come on with it

14 comments:

jereme said...

do not let external forces drive you to internal destruction

this is the path to madness and suicide

blabber is better than blubber

Keith said...

Books only add more fuel to the writer's fire, or should. First it's "I just want a pub in a good journal," and then it's "I want to just be nominated for an award," and then after you win one, it's "I just want to win a bigger award," and then you have a bunch of books out, and then you realize you still have to please yourself before you can please the people.

At the rate you're going you'll be someone who has many books out, my friend, and you're further ahead right now than most will ever be.

You have much to celebrate and be proud of.

But there's always pushing yourself to create better stuff in the future.

That's the way of the writer world.

Marcos said...

great post

BLAKE BUTLER said...

it is not that i'm unhappy

it is that i guess um

the thing is

um

KEN BAUMANN said...

it is funk i hope/think

cyclical

sam pink said...

in the fall there is the cooling. it is best to go inside and lock your windows when the cooling comes.

Peter Markus said...

Hi Blake,

I think David Foster Wallace's essay "The Nature of the Fun" addresses some of what you're feeling. Or at least I think it does.

BLAKE BUTLER said...

sam yes yes yes

peter yes yes i will have to dig that one back out

BLAKE BUTLER said...

i found it, you were right, it's really good and on point, as per usual, the mangled thing

Michael Kimball said...

Jereme has it.

Also, using his words, some of them: let your internal forces better what is external.

BLAKE BUTLER said...

what if my internal forces are mostly urine?

no, i'm being silly

i'm realyl in agood mood i swear

thank you peeps

FrostingandFire said...

what jereme said. and, one more thing.
that book review at keyhole of dear everybody knocked me down. nice write. you're no joke.

zo

BLAKE BUTLER said...

hi zo thnk u

Didi Menendez said...

Look you spend your days pretty much the same way I do when I am not working my normal job and even then I find myself staring at this screen and thinking and sometimes just staring...anyway -- you are not alone.

d.